St Francis of Assisi Catholic School - 26/04/2018

1 Introduction

A New School Assurance Review is a review of particular areas of school performance and is undertaken to specific terms of reference.

New School Assurance Reviews are generally undertaken within the first year of the school’s opening.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic School. The terms of reference for the review are to provide assurance to the community:

  • that the school is well placed to provide for students
  • that the school is operating in accordance with the vision articulated by the board of trustees.

2 Context 

During the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, St Paul’s Catholic school sustained considerable damage with the site eventually being part of the Red Zone.  Following consultation it was decided to close both St Paul’s and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Schools.  A new school, St Francis of Assisi has been formed from these on the former Our Lady of Fatima site. Three new classroom hubs have been built. The fourth hub is currently being refurbished ready for term 2, 2018. 

St Francis of Assisi School is a Catholic Primary School. It provides for children from Years 1 to 8. The official opening and blessing was on 12 February 2016. 

The school’s Catholic special character is evident in the vision, values and day-to-day operation of the school. There is a strong focus on Catholic values and religious education. 

The board has a range of experienced and new members. Trustees are currently revisiting the school’s vision and goals. They are consulting with the community to develop a charter for the 2018-2020 period that reflects the views of the current school community. 

Children from Year 3 upwards are located in learning hubs. The new entrant and Year 1 and 2 children will move into a new building in Term 2 2018. 

The school has good parish and community support. Trustees and school leaders continue to focus on building community relationships as two previous school communities have become one. 

The board currently has access to additional funding to support the merger of the two schools. The Ministry of Education is providing additional staffing. The board is strategic in its approach to making the best use of these resources while they are still available. 

3 Background 

The establishment board developed an interim vision, goals and charter. The principal was appointed towards the end of 2015. She had a very short time to put systems and procedures in place before the opening of the school. 

In 2016, there were some staff changes due to the promotion of some staff and maternity leave. A new deputy principal was appointed at the start of 2017. 

4 Findings 

The school has established, and continues to refine high-quality systems to support students’ learning. Teachers' practices support students to understand their learning. They have processes that develop students' skills in self-management and independence. Strong pastoral care systems focus on and enhance students' wellbeing.

The collaborative approach to developing and implementing systems is evident throughout the school. The senior leadership team plans and works as a unit. Teachers in each hub plan and work together. They take collective responsibility for each child in their hub. They have systems that help them to identify and respond to students' learning needs. Parents have many opportunities and a variety of ways to find out about their child's learning and achievements.

The next step is for leaders and teachers to further develop shared understandings of assessment practices to make more robust judgements about student progress and achievement.

The curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. It is based on recent research into effective teaching and learning methods. The collaborative approach is modelled and well led by senior leaders. Leaders and teachers have focused on building positive relationships with students, parents and the community. Students are increasingly given choices in how and what they learn. There is a strong focus on supporting students to develop the skills needed for learning.

Teachers work in close proximity to each other. They are provided with coaching and mentoring. They are developing innovative approaches to learning, including play and project-based learning. Teachers as a group undertake ongoing research into their practice. These strategies provide an effective framework for ongoing improvements to teaching and learning.

Next steps for leaders and trustees are to:

  • integrate bicultural perspectives across the curriculum
  • undertake consultation with the Māori community
  • complete documentation for the school's localised curriculum
  • embed the newly introduced innovative approaches to learning.

There are good systems in place for meeting the needs of those students who need additional learning support. Each child who is not achieving at the level expected for their age is closely monitored. Teachers use a range of programmes aimed at improving progress in the areas needed.

Teachers participate in a wide range of high quality professional learning and development opportunities to help them meet student learning needs. They engage in inquiry activities and professional discussions to collectively seek and use the most effective strategies and programmes for each child.

Next steps are to:

  • deepen the analysis of programme effectiveness to ensure sufficient progress is being made
  • investigate the use of more innovative practices with students whose learning needs to be accelerated.

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The strong visionary leadership is based on a well-researched approach to teaching and learning. Leaders and teachers are highly reflective of their practice. Leaders model effective collaborative approaches. They are making useful connections with local schools and early learning services.

Senior leaders and trustees have a shared vision. They have a strong commitment to building relationships and improving communication with parents and the community. They have been responsive to parents' views on improving students' reports. This has resulted in a comprehensive review, including seeking parent input. The school is well resourced to support future-focused learning.

The next step is to strengthen internal evaluation practices so that trustees and school leaders are better informed about the effectiveness of programmes and innovations.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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:

  • school management and reporting
  • 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 students' 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

The board and community can be assured that the school is operating in accordance with its vision and is very well placed to provide for students.

ERO is likely to carry out the first full review of the school by the end of the third year of the school’s operation.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer
Te Waipounamu - Southern Region 

26 April 2018

About the School                                                 

Location

Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

738

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

373

Gender composition

Girls 53%, Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Other

  7%

73%

10%

10%

Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

26 April 2018