St Brigids School (Tainui) - 14/03/2017

1 Context

Children learn in five multilevel classrooms in this Catholic primary school. The school has had a stable roll over the last three years. There has been little change in leadership and staffing in the school in recent years. The school is well supported by an active parent-teacher association which contributes funding to a range of education-outside-the-classroom (EOTC) experiences, and to classroom refurbishment. The school grounds include interesting and varied areas for play and physical activity which provide for different levels of challenge. The school is governed by a mix of experienced and new trustees.

2 Equity and excellence

The school's vision is to 'provide a Catholic education in a family environment where gospel values are at the heart of teaching and learning'. It aims to challenge every child 'to reach their full potential and to lead active and purposeful lives’. Through its curriculum, the school aims to help children develop and demonstrate the values of respect, responsibility, cooperation, forgiveness, acceptance and self-motivation.

The school's achievement information shows that a high proportion of children (more than 85%) have achieved the National Standards in reading and mathematics over the last three years. The proportion achieving the National Standards in writing is lower (by about 10%).

Māori children in this school are achieving at similar levels to their peers . The school has identified disparity in achievement by boys in writing and it has focused on addressing this in annual planning and targeted action.

Teachers use a range of assessment tools and practices to help make overall-teacher judgements about children's achievement. In particular, they have reviewed and strengthened processes for the moderation of their judgements for achievement in writing. The next steps are to:

  • better document their practices for making and moderating judgements about achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • improve systems for collating a wide range of evidence to support overall-teacher judgements
  • consider how they are making and moderating judgements about children's achievement in learning areas other than reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the last ERO evaluation, the school has made progress on most areas identified for improvement. Some of this work needs to be further extended. This includes:

  • documenting those aspects of teaching and learning yet to be covered in current written guidelines
  • making self-review practices more evaluative.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

This school responds effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Teachers make good use of learning information to identify each child needing additional support. They use this information to design targeted extra learning programmes for Māori children and all other children needing to make accelerated progress. Programmes address a wide range of needs including spelling, reading, writing, mathematics, fine-motor skill development and perceptual-motor development. They are generally delivered by experienced, skilled teacher aides. Teachers and teacher aides plan collaboratively how to provide support for those children needing to accelerate their progress. The school's information shows that children participating in these programmes demonstrate:

  • increased confidence in their ability to learn
  • improved levels of engagement with learning tasks
  • improved levels of achievement.

Teachers regularly review children's progress and evaluate whether programmes are working or if they need to change. They make good use of their knowledge of individual children's interests and strengths to engage and motivate children for learning. They have regular communication with parents and whānau about children's progress and achievement, and children's next learning steps.

Teachers also use learning information to identify groups of children not achieving as well as expected. In response, they set school-wide targets that focus on these children and work together to identify effective strategies to better support children's learning. For example, the recent focus has been boys' achievement in writing. Teachers have:

  • provided engaging topics and authentic contexts to build boys' motivation to write
  • addressed barriers to learning such as poor handwriting skills
  • used digital solutions to help children develop and share their ideas when writing.

Teachers research and trial new approaches they believe will improve outcomes for children. They work collaboratively to make children's experiences in writing engaging and more successful.

Trustees receive reports on how well children are progressing as a result of learning support programmes and plans. They use these reports to inform their resourcing decisions.

The next steps for the school are to:

  • develop better systems for tracking, collating and analysing children's progress and rates of progress over time
  • review the clarity of reporting to children and their parents about progress in relation to the National Standards
  • ensure the annual student achievement targets are specific and measurable.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school’s curriculum and other practices effectively promote equity and excellence for all children. The board and principal have consulted the school's community about the strategic direction for the school. There are clear links from the school's vision to strategic goals, annual planning, professional development for staff, appraisal, and teaching and learning.

The school's special character and Catholic values are highly evident in relationships, practices and the school environment. Children told ERO that they experience positive and respectful relationships with other children and adults. Junior children appreciate the support and guidance of their senior `buddies'. Older children interact positively with younger children in a range of ways in both their learning and their play. The school's values are actively modelled, taught and celebrated. Trustees, teachers and parents report a strong sense of community support, with a focus on the wellbeing of children, families and staff.

Increasing use is being made of digital technology to support children's learning. Teachers and children are using digital devices effectively to share their learning with each other and with their parents. This has led to increased levels of engagement with parents in children's day-to-day learning.

For Māori learners, teachers place a particular focus on:

  • knowing each Māori learner as an individual
  • responding well to the expectations of whānau
  • bringing their culture to the classroom and sharing their knowledge with other children and teachers.
  • The school is continuing to build its practices for learning about and responding to the aspirations of Māori children and their whānau.

Teachers have strengthened the way they integrate learning about New Zealand's bicultural heritage throughout the curriculum. Children regularly experience te reo Māori and learn about and participate in aspects of te ao Māori within learning programmes and as a part of normal routines. Teachers have identified that they want to further strengthen these aspects of children's learning.

Leadership is making good use of teachers' strengths, building a culture of collaboration, and developing leadership for staff. Together, staff members are building learning-centred relationships with families for the benefit of each child. The recent school-wide focus on improving writing led to new, shared understandings about how to teach and assess writing. Teachers collaborate effectively to plan and deliver learning programmes and share good practices. There is evidence of ongoing and collaborative informal review of many aspects of teaching and learning.

Trustees have taken well-considered actions to plan for improvement and to scrutinise progress towards expected learning and wellbeing outcomes. They:

  • expect reports about school-wide progress of all children, with clear information about children needing acceleration
  • are well connected to the school's wider community
  • are using their knowledge and expertise to clarify the board's processes in response to legislative changes to health and safety, and personnel management.

Next steps for improvement are to:

  • extend current documented guidelines for teaching and learning to reflect current best practice and expected practice
  • include regular curriculum review in the board's yearly work plan
  • document shared understandings of how trustees are to carry out their roles and responsibilities
  • develop guidelines that outline the process and expectations for internal evaluation at all levels.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Teachers make good use of their knowledge of individual children and their inquiry into what is needed to improve children's learning. They work collaboratively to bring about sustainable improvements. The principal, trustees and teachers regularly consider what is working and what needs further improvement. As the trustees, leaders and teachers strengthen the rigour and depth of their evaluative processes, they will be more effectively assured about the quality and sustainability of their systems for ongoing improvement.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

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

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendation

To continue to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners, the school should act on the next steps identified in this report.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Te Waipounamu/Southern

14 March 2017

About the school 

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3820

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

102

Gender composition

Female 54%; Male 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

Other ethnicities

10%

72%

12%

5%

1%

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

14 March 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2013

October 2010

August 2007