St Brigids School (Tainui) - 08/11/2013

1 Context

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

St Brigid's School (Tainui) is a Catholic integrated school for students from Years 1 to 6. An increasing number of students with different cultural backgrounds and languages attend the school. New students are made to feel welcome and quickly integrate into the daily life of the school.

The school’s special character and Christian values are very evident throughout the school. Students’ learning is enhanced through the frequent opportunities they have to be part of the wider parish community. The positive school culture is strongly grounded in the respectful and supportive relationships that exist between students and adults. Students spoken to by ERO described their school as friendly, kind and caring and said that learning was fun. They strongly believed that their teachers cared about them and their learning. Students enjoy the many opportunities they have to be supported by their peers. Tuakana-teina relationships between students are encouraged through the school’s buddy system where older students help younger students.

Students are well supported to learn in attractive, well resourced and print-rich classrooms. This includes displayed prompts to help them with their learning. A focus on caring for the environment is important in the daily life of the school and in specific learning programmes. This has been recognised through the Enviro-schools’ awards scheme.

There is a very collaborative approach to supporting students’ learning and wellbeing. The board and teachers share a collective responsibility for all children. Students benefit from the help parents provide with learning programmes. The principal continues to play an active role as a classroom teacher.

Students are encouraged to participate in physical activity including sports. They enjoy significant success in local and regional competitions. These and other successes are celebrated.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is very effectively used to make positive changes for students’ learning.

Students are enthusiastic about their learning. They have ongoing conversations with their teachers about their progress and achievement. Students, especially in senior classes, work closely with their teachers to identify and understand their next learning steps. Senior students regularly assess their own and their peer’s work.

Teachers use a wide range of assessment information very well to identify students with particular learning needs. They carefully plan and adapt their teaching programmes to better meet the needs of individuals and small groups of students. The progress of these students is monitored over time. ERO observed some outstanding examples of students receiving specific oral and written feedback and next steps from their teachers.

Senior leaders examine and reflect on students’ assessment information. From this they determine the success of programmes, target resources and identify strengths and needs throughout the school. The principal collates student achievement information and frequently reports this to the board. The board uses this information well when making resourcing decisions.

Areas for review and development

Better use could be made of school-wide student achievement information to:

  • identify trends and patterns over time
  • more closely track and report on the progress of groups of students receiving targeted support
  • clearly identify and report how well other key groups are supported, achieving and progressing. For example, students receiving additional English language support, those participating in extension programmes and other groups of students with particular learning needs.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. The school’s information shows that three quarters of students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. ERO visited a sample of classrooms and observed good to high quality teaching.

Students’ learning is enhanced by using local features and resources as contexts for learning and the way in which the school’s special character is integrated into daily learning. This can be seen in the way that:

  • the school’s Catholic values are central to all aspects of school life
  • students are increasingly involved in decisions about what and how they learn
  • students are involved in meaningful learning experiences, such as parents’ workplaces, penguin habitat development and the local environment.

Students benefit from the:

  • way in which information and communication technologies (ICT) have been developed and are now extensively used to support their learning and teachers’ practice
  • way teachers recognise and build on students’ individual strengths
  • high expectations teachers have for them and their learning
  • way in which the school has worked to involve parents in their children’s learning.

The school provides extensive resourcing and support for students who are not reaching the National Standards. This includes using trained, experienced and competent teacher aides. This support has resulted in many of these students making accelerated progress towards achieving at the National Standards.

Students and teachers have benefited from teachers participating in purposeful professional learning in writing and mathematics. This has helped teachers to reflect, evaluate and improve their teaching practice. Senior leaders and teachers are currently reviewing the school’s inquiry approach to learning.

Areas for review and development

It is timely for the school to:

  • review and revise its expectations for high quality teaching and learning to better reflect current priorities
  • develop guidelines indicating how the inquiry-learning approach will be implemented
  • develop more rigorous processes for reviewing teaching and learning. For example, how well current programmes and practices are meeting students’ needs.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Māori students are achieving as well as their non-Māori peers. Māori students spoke very positively to ERO about their teachers and their school. These students felt well supported in their learning and that teachers noticed and went out of their way to develop students’ strengths. In response to parents’ wishes, the school has introduced a kapa haka group which enables all students to enjoy an aspect of Māori culture. The religious education programme strongly values Māori perspectives and language.

Next steps

The school should:

  • work with Māori whānau to clarify and record what success for their children, as Māori, will look like and how the school will achieve this
  • improve the inclusion of te reo Māori and a Māori dimension in all students’ day-to-day learning.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific, as Pacific?

The school is welcoming an increasing number of Pacific students and families. Pacific students also spoke very positively to ERO about their teachers and their school. These students felt well supported in their learning and that teachers noticed and went out of their way to develop students’ strengths.

Next step

To develop and implement a formal plan as to how the school supports Pacific students.

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.

The board bases all of its decisions on what will best support students’ learning. It is made up of capable and some experienced trustees who have a good understanding of effective governance. New trustees have benefited from ongoing guidance from other trustees and board training workshops. Through wide consultation the school has developed a useful strategic and annual plan which reflects the current priorities. The annual plan is now regularly monitored and progress reported. Very positive relationships exist between trustees, the principal and teachers. Aspects of effective review are evident through regular consultation, surveying and review of policies and procedures.

Areas for review and development

The principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that the school’s performance management system should be reviewed and improved.

A shared understanding of effective self review needs to be established and clearly documented. This should include:

  • what is to be reviewed and the information to be collected
  • indicators of success to be measured against
  • in-depth analysis that leads to a judgement about the quality of what is being reviewed
  • results being used for decision making and improved student outcomes
  • sufficient records of outcomes and decisions made to support progress over time and inform future reviews.

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.

To improve current practice the board of trustees should ensure that all education outside the classroom (EOTC) activities are supported by relevant risk analyses. This was identified in the 2010 ERO report.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

8 November 2013

About the School

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3820

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

109

Gender composition

Girls: 60% Boys: 40%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other ethnicities

65%

7%

7%

11%

10%

Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

8 November 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2010

August 2007

August 2004