St Bernard's School (Brooklyn) - 16/09/2014

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

St Bernard’s School is a state integrated Catholic primary school situated in Brooklyn, Wellington catering for students in Years 1 to 8. Its special Catholic character is interwoven through all aspects of learning, family partnerships and pastoral care. Students enrol from across Wellington city and the wider suburbs. Classes are small and made up of students from two or three year groups.

Since the July 2010 ERO review there has been a complete change of staff, including the principal in 2011, and several new trustees.

All staff are involved in regular professional learning and development, much of this with the local south Wellington cluster of schools. This has involved development of mathematics teaching. The principal is currently part of the local Leading and Change Network. All teachers have science as their current professional focus.

The school has a good reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Leaders and teachers are making very good use of achievement information to make positive changes to student progress and engagement.

The school reports that most students are achieving well against the National Standards, especially in mathematics. This reflects teachers’ recent involvement in professional learning. The teaching team appropriately identified the improvement of reading for boys as a current target.

Students are well engaged in their learning. Those requiring additional support to achieve at the appropriate standard have their needs and next steps identified. Their progress is tracked and monitored.

Teachers are using data well to group students, identify those in need of additional support and inform their teaching plans. They know their students well and work collaboratively to share effective teaching strategies that support progress. Teachers reflect on their teaching and its impact on learning. They have begun to share their findings.

Trustees are well informed about many aspects of student achievement. They receive regular reports, set appropriate achievement targets, and receive updates on progress towards achieving these.

Parents receive clear information on their child’s progress. They have multiple opportunities to discuss this with teachers and/or the principal. Open communication and a family-friendly environment contribute to warm relationships and learning partnerships.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

Students have a wide range of opportunities within and outside of the school. Many of these serve to develop confidence in a range of areas. The New Zealand Curriculum is the basis of the school’s curriculum with the Catholic character highly evident.

The school community’s focus on pastoral care has a high impact on emotional and physical wellbeing. All students are supported to fully participate. Relationships within the school are positive and supportive, resulting in an inclusive culture where individual students and teachers are valued. Students interact warmly and support each other’s learning.

Students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. They are able to talk confidently and knowledgeably about their current work. They set goals and participate in reporting of their achievement to their parents.

A next step is to further grow this ownership through support for increased independence, as students progress throughout their schooling. Recent developments in use of e-learning are likely to support this.

Teachers use a range of strategies to make learning explicit for students. Good use is made of questioning and cooperative learning techniques. Teachers are responsive to students’ interests and needs, making changes to programmes accordingly.

Students with additional learning needs are identified and well supported. These students all have individual education plans (IEPs) that carefully consider their progress and set next steps for their learning. Plans are suitably resourced and their impact is known. English language learners are now identified and programmes put in place to monitor and support their oral language development.

Progress has been made with developing curriculum guidelines to give a framework for expectations. The recently reviewed charter reflects the school’s special character and vision as determined by the parent community and parish. Guiding documents have been developed for literacy, mathematics, inclusion and special character. They are currently being drafted for science.

There is an expectation that units of work will include elements reflective of families’ ethnic culture. Parents have expressed a preference for this to be more explicit.

A next step is to complete the development and documentation of the school’s curriculum, which captures and reflects expectations of whānau and the school community. This should provide complete guidelines for teachers and support cohesive development and delivery throughout the school.

Teachers and leaders are aware of the need to be culturally responsive and are actively looking to improve their knowledge of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. Both teachers and trustees have explored recent Ministry of Education publications and cultural competencies have been incorporated into the 2014 teacher appraisal process.

Māori students are given opportunities to celebrate and share their culture and experience success. Academically, they achieve well. Whānau articulate that traditional Māori values are well aligned with those of the special character.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Trustees have undertaken training and bring a range of expertise and experience to their role. They have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and have developed a range of useful documents and processes to guide their operation.

The principal’s reports to the board are discussed and used to make considered decisions on the basis of recommendations and other relevant information. Trustees are consultative and seek community input into their decisions.

The principal's leadership is supportive of staff, students and the wider community. It is reflective and has led to establishment of systems, processes and guidelines to promote ongoing school improvement. There is deliberate growing of capacity within the staff through distributed leadership opportunities.

A range of effective mechanisms are in place to review performance within areas of school operation. The appraisal process has been strengthened to include observations and feedback to teachers on their classroom practices. The next step is to strengthen teachers’ inquiry process through a more consistent application and embed it in the appraisal process.

Recent curriculum reviews have enabled the school to develop a shared understanding of effective practices. It is timely for leaders to evaluate the impact of current practices on student achievement.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Conclusion

Most students achieve well in small, multi-level classes. Teachers know students well and modify programmes to meet their needs and interests. Warm relationships support partnerships for learning. The Catholic character is evident. Redevelopment of the school’s curriculum is underway. The school is well led by the principal and board of trustees.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

16 September 2014

index-html-m2a7690f7.gifAbout the School

Location

Brooklyn, Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

3002

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

53

Gender composition

Female 27, Male 26

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

3

36

11

2

1

Special features

State Integrated Catholic School

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

16 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2010

November 2007

April 2005