St Dominic's Catholic School (Blockhouse Bay) - 28/04/2014

1 Context

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

St Dominic’s Catholic Primary School is a state-integrated Catholic school in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland. It provides education for students from Years 1 to 6. The roll is becoming increasingly multi-cultural, with Indian students making up the largest group after New Zealand European. Parents and staff value the history of the school and many have attended the school themselves as children.

The special character and the values of aroha, perseverance, truth and respect are embedded and evident in all aspects of school life. The strong emphasis on school values supports the positive and caring school tone. Effective relationships are a feature of the school.

The parish and school communities are very supportive and involved in the school. The board consists of experienced trustees and those who are new to the role. The active Parent-Teacher Association works in the best interests of the school. The pastoral care group provides well for families and students who need some additional support.

Learning is at the heart of the school. The last three years have been used to focus on building an inclusive learning community. The 2011 ERO report noted the school’s sound governance, management and teaching practices. These aspects continue to be evident. School leaders and teachers used the areas identified for review and development in the 2011 ERO report to guide their school improvement initiatives.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information very well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Students are well engaged in learning. Classes are settled, purposeful and respectful learning environments that are attractively presented, well organised, and support learning well.

Students’ social competence is a significant feature in the school and is reflected in an ethic of care, responsibility and service. Students talk confidently and knowledgeably about the role the school’s values play in the relationships they have with their teachers and with each other.

Information provided by the school shows high levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for all groups of students. The senior leadership team and teachers continue to closely moderate judgements about student achievement to ensure they are reliable. While teachers provide parents with reports about their child’s progress and achievement, the school acknowledges that further refinements are needed to ensure requirements for reporting to parents against National Standards are fully met for all students. Processes are now being put in place to address this matter.

Teachers and school leaders know students very well. They are highly collegial in their approach and share collective responsibility for students’ achievement and wellbeing. Teachers engage in professional conversations to ensure all students are benefitting from appropriate teaching and learning programmes. Students who need extra support are involved in a variety of effective support programmes.

School leaders have a clear focus on learning and have high expectations of teachers, students, parents and themselves. There is a high level of consistency between classrooms, and in the quality of teaching practice across the school. Teachers use effective strategies so that students know what they are learning. Teachers and students use a shared language of learning to talk about their progress and understandings. This contributes to students experiencing consistent and seamless approaches as they move up through the school.

Senior leaders have plans to further increase students’ ownership of their learning. Student voice is gathered in a number of different ways and provides worthwhile information about student learning and wellbeing for the board, senior leadership team and teachers. This has been helpful in evaluating the impact of initiatives and professional development on outcomes for students.

The senior leadership team has identified some key next steps for ongoing school improvement including:

  • considering ways to recognise student capability and giving them greater opportunities to contribute to decision making about their learning and programmes of work
  • strengthening the evidence to show that teachers use their knowledge about individual students to inform their day-to-day programmes.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning well. It values both The New Zealand Curriculum and the Catholic special character of the school. Teachers balance these two elements well.

Children transitioning into the school are acknowledged as individuals who bring their heritage and many past experiences with them. Students who transition out of the school are tracked to provide information about how well prepared they were to succeed at the next stage of their schooling. Students from schools that St Dominic’s students will attend in the future undertake service activities in the school. This provides a worthwhile and visible connection between schools.

The senior leadership team accesses many professional development opportunities for the whole school. The board also supports individuals to up skill or to extend their knowledge through professional development. It is timely now to consider ways and allow time for teachers to consolidate new learning. This should help ensure that new and desirable practices become well embedded.

Some teachers are exploring ways that students can engage with information and communication technologies (ICT) to support their learning. These trials are monitored and reviewed to understand what the outcomes for students have been. This is important to the board and senior leadership team as they want to ensure that sound learning opportunities and teaching practices are implemented.

The school’s curriculum is subject to ongoing review and development. This helps to ensure it incorporates the aspirations of the school community, reflects developments in education and the influence of teacher professional development. The school is engaging in a Ministry of Education contract to support this work on further reviewing and developing their curriculum.

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

The school promotes educational success for Māori well.

Strong partnerships characterise relationships between home and school. Whānau participate in individual ‘learning pathway’ conversations with the principal. The purpose of these meetings is to share knowledge about the student’s learning and background.

Māori students achieve very well in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students are also represented in the many leadership roles, and particularly in those roles that are available to older students.

Te reo Māori and some broad concepts from te ao Māori are represented within the Religious Education programme and are embedded in day-to-day school practice. Students experience marae visits which help build their knowledge and understanding of appropriate protocols. School celebrations draw on and value tikanga Māori.

Ka Hikitia Accelerating Success 2013-2017 - the Māori Education Strategy informs school thinking and planning. Kaumatua and others with expertise and knowledge have supported the school as it has developed its own protocols along bicultural lines. The school continues to explore ways in which te reo and tikanga Māori can be respectfully integrated into programmes and events.

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.

Self review is used across school operations to evaluate what works and what needs to change. The learning focus that permeates the school is evident at board level. Trustees are capable and committed to governing the school in a responsible and considered manner that honours the school’s values and Catholic character. They have undertaken training and have a good understanding of governance and their roles within the school.

The board is well informed by reports from the principal that document progress against the strategic goals. Community consultation has been undertaken with whānau and families of Pacific students, as well as the wider parent group. The board is planning to extend this consultation to find out about the aspirations that Indian and Filipino families have for their children. This would be helpful in building on the existing home and school learning partnerships with these communities.

The board takes a lead role in policy review. Reviewing policies and related procedures with staff could help ensure that documentation and practice are aligned.

The senior leadership team is knowledgeable, experienced and cohesive. They know their teachers and their practice well. The principal has built and continues to grow a culture of reflection, inquiry and review, both formal and informal and at all levels of the school. He plans to further build capability of teachers through greater distributed leadership.

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.

During the review an area of non-compliance was identified. To address this, the school must:

  • ensure that parents of all students receive a written report in plain language about their child’s progress and achievement against the National Standards at least twice a year

[National Administration Guideline 2A (a)].

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

28 April 2014

About the School


Blockhouse Bay, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā












Review team on site

February 2014

Date of this report

28 April 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2011

April 2008

August 2001