St Columba's Catholic School (Frankton) - 06/03/2017

1 Context

St Columba's Catholic School is a state integrated full primary in the western suburbs of Hamilton. It draws students from the local parish and surrounding areas. The roll has grown to over 500 since the last ERO review in 2013, and includes approximately 100 children of Māori descent and a small number of Pacific children. The roll also includes children from a wide number of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

A new principal was appointed at the beginning of Term 3, 2016, and there has been some reorganisation of roles and responsibilities in the leadership team. The board chair person continues in her role and there have some minor changes to board membership. The special Catholic character continues to be a significant feature of the school culture and learning programmes.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children areto walk in the footsteps of Jesus to become:

  • confident in their identity
  • connected by developing positive relationships
  • actively involved as moral contributors to wider communities
  • life-long learners and critical, creative and moral thinkers.

The school’s achievement information shows that in 2015 approximately two thirds of all students achieved National Standards in writing and mathematics. A higher proportion achieved the standard in reading.

Achievement data from the last three years shows the following trends and patterns:

  • The proportion of Māori children achieving National Standards has fallen in writing and mathematics. In 2015 just over half of these children reached the National Standard in writing and mathematics. In reading Māori achievement has remained consistent with three-quarters achieving the standard in 2015.
  • The proportion of Pacific children achieving National Standards has fallen in writing and particularly in reading, to be significantly below national comparisons. In 2015 just over half of these students reached the standard in writing and just under half achieved the standard in reading. The achievement of Pacific childen in mathematics has remained constant with two thirds achieving the standard in 2015.
  • The proportion of boys achieving National Standards has remained constant in reading and mathematics with approximately two thirds achieving the standard in 2015. In writing, although the achievement of boys has remained consistent, achievement levels have been historically low with approximately half of all boys achieving the standard in 2015. 

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has taken the following key actions to accelerate progress of all learners:

  • continued to promote teaching as inquiry across the school through school-wide professional development linking to growing reflective practice and internal evaluation of teaching effectiveness
  • developed shared understandings about school specific 'Highly Effective Practice' (The HELT model) as deliberate acts of teaching, clarity of learning, engagement and motivation of students and collaborative practice
  • been involved with Ministry of Education initiatives Accelerated Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) and Accelerating Learning in Literacy (ALL) to acclerate progress for specific groups of students achieving below expected levels
  • run reading workshops with parents and families to strengthen the partnership in learning
  • introduced the Tapuwai Iti programme to support children's transition to the new entrant class.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school's response to Māori children whose learning and achievement requires acceleration needs further development. In particular there is a need to achieve parity for Māori in mathematics and writing.

The board has responded to school achievement information by setting goals in the annual plan to increase the number of students reading, writing and using mathematics at or above the National Standards. This response needs to be strengthened.

Leaders have responded well to school-wide achievement information by reviewing and reorganising roles in the leadership team, and providing relevant professional learning for teachers and supporting them to implement classroom programmes.

Teachers respond to the school-wide achievement data well by clearly identifying all Māori students whose learning is at risk in reading, writing and mathematics in their class. This response enables them to group students for instruction in these core subject areas and plan programmes to address children's learning needs. Each teacher then chooses an area of learning and a smaller group of specific targeted students in their class. These groups are flexble and responsive to children's achievements and progress, but not yet sufficiently aligned to a sharper focus on accelerating progress for Māori.

Aspects of the school's response to their achievement data that effectively support Māori learning and strengthen partnerships with Māori whānau include a school-wide sequential te reo Māori programme for all children, kapa haka and a supportive, inclusive whānau group. Te reo Māori is strongly supported and fostered among teachers, who enage in frequent professional learning and is led by a knowldegeable senior staff member. This response is systematically strengthening teachers' ability to ensure their programmes more strongly reflect the language, culture and identity of Māori children. 

The following are important next steps for the school in order to strengthen its response to Māori children whose progress needs to be accelerated:

  • Trustees ensuring that annual achievement targets are more sharply focused on accelerating progress for Māori children and addressing disparity within the school.
  • Leaders ensuring teacher appraisal processes are fully implemented, consistently undertaken, and more closely aligned with processes that contribute to accelerating progress for Māori children whose learning is at risk.
  • Teachers ensuring that classroom target groups are more sharply focused on accelerating progress for Māori children whose progress needs acceleration and addressing disparity in the school. Teachers considering documents such as Tātaiako as they review and enhance culturally responsive teaching practices.

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

The school's response to other children whose progress requires acceleration shows that many students are well supported to make accelerated progress with their learning. Each child's progress is closely monitored during learning programmes. Teachers use this acheivement information to evaluate the effectiveness of their practice based on what works for these target children.

The next step is to collate information specifically about the achievement of all students whose learning is at risk, analyse this data and use the findings to:

  • establish how effectively the school is accelerating progress for all children whose learning is at risk
  • determine how well progress is sustained for individuals and groups of students over time
  • make decisions about the effectiveness of current programmes and further interventions or initiatives that may be required.

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 is clearly focused on supporting children's wellbeing and promoting their learning. The special Catholic character is highly evident across the curriculum and there is a focus on literacy and mathematics learning. The curriculum includes targeted support for children with high educational and pastoral needs. These children are experiencing positve outcomes. The curriculum also includes and a wide range of sporting and extra curricula activities. Children also experience success in these activities which extend and enrich their learning.

In classrooms there are high levels of children's engagement with learning and a culture that strongly supports achievement and success. This culture of respectful relationships between and among teachers and children is contributing to an atmosphere that reflects the school values of 'care, respect and honesty'.

In all classes teachers promote achievement for all learners by making the purpose of learning explicit for children and providing feedback about their learning progress. In some classes teachers have established learning continuums and other resources to support children's knowledge and understanding of their own learning and progress. It is especially significant for target students who are able to track their progress towards reaching expected standards. This approach benefits all learners by enabling them to monitor their progress, set specific goals and develop as self-managing learners. An important next step for leaders and teachers is to advance and embed these strategies to ensure consistent practice and shared understandings about teaching practices.

School leaders are providing well-informed leadership of learning. Roles have been reviewed to provide a coherent system for identifying and monitoring the progress and achievement of all students. An important next step for leaders is to strengthen and align the following school-wide processes and systems, necessary to address disparity in the school:

  • school-wide target setting
  • curriculum review and development
  • school-wide professional development priorities
  • teachers' appraisal processes.

This alignment is likely to strengthen the focus on accelerating achievement, especially for children whose learning is at risk, and provide leaders, teachers and trustees with a strong foundation for the internal review of school programmes and initiatives.

Parents and whānau are valued partners in children's learning, and this contributes to a strong sense of belonging and wellbeing among children and families. They receive comprehensive information from teachers about their children's achievement and progress, which enables them to contribute to support learning programmes. Pastoral care systems are well developed and responsive to children's need for care and support.

The board is well engaged with the school community and strongly focused on the best possible outcomes for children. Trustees are enthusistic about continuing with a programme of training to build their knowledge about internal review.

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 to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

The school is well placed to address the next steps identified in consultation with ERO during the Education Review process because:

  • leadership is well informed about and focused on building teacher capability and consistency of practice across the school
  • techers are committed to ongoing professional learning and improvement
  • the school culture is strongly focused on care, achievement and success for all
  • the school environment is highly inclusive
  • realtionships in the school are positive and collaborative
  • there are very high levels of enagement with learning in classrooms
  • the school vision and values are highly evident at all levels of operation.

The board and school leaders have a good understanding of the challenges ahead and the urgency in relation to:

  • accelerating progress for all students
  • ensuring a sharper focus on children achieving below expected levels
  • reducing disparity in the school.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full 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.

ERO has identified areas of non-compliance. The board of trustees should:

  • review school policy documentation to documentation and practice reflect recent changes to the Vulnerable Children's Act.
    [Vulnerable Children's Act 2014]
  • ensure regular checks of the environment include the identification and elimination of objects that may cause injury in the event of an earthquake.
    [Health and Safety at Work Act 2015] 

7 Recommendation

The school continues to access appropriate professional development to ensure a more strategic alignment of practices and processes that enable a clear and coherent focus on accelerating achievement for groups of children whose progress requires acceleration. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato / Bay of Plenty

6 March 2017 

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated Year 1 to 8

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 54%

Boys 46%

Ethnic composition



South East Asian


Latin American



Middle Eastern


Other European

Other Asian














Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

6 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2013

September 2010

January 2008