St Francis School (Thames) - 21/11/2018

School Context

St Francis School (Thames) is a state integrated Catholic school located in Thames. It caters for students from Years 1 to 8. The current roll is 56 including seven who identify as Māori. The school’s mission states that it is a Catholic faith community committed to quality learning. The school is inspired by St Francis’ love of creation. There is a commitment to providing a nurturing environment for each child, focusing on their spiritual, moral, academic, emotional, social and physical needs. Love, respect, responsibility and honesty are the combined school and gospel values. The school recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.

The school’s strategic aims focus on:

  • promoting the teachings of the faith through the religious education programme and special character of the school

  • providing additional support for at-risk students in mathematics and writing

  • providing professional development for teachers in te reo Māori

Since the last ERO report there has been a significant decline in the school roll. There have been several changes in the teaching team and some new trustees appointed. Teachers have undertaken professional learning and development to accelerate learning in writing and mathematics. Digital fluencies along with gifted and talented education have also been a focus. The school is part of the Thames Kauaeranga Kā Community of Learning | Kahui Āko.

Since the on-site stage of the review the principal has taken extended leave.

The leader and teachers regularly report to the board school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • reading, writing, mathematics.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for most students. The school’s data from 2015 to 2017 shows almost all students were achieving at or above national expectations in reading including Māori. Most students were achieving in writing and mathematics. There is significant disparity for Māori in writing in comparison to Pākehā. Girls are achieving at higher levels than boys in literacy. The pattern of significant disparity for boys has remained consistent over time. Children with identified learning needs are well monitored and are making progress against their individual learning goals.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is effectively accelerating the progress of Māori and other students whose learning is at risk. Analysed data for 2016 and 2017 shows that many at-risk students made accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics. This data also shows that most at-risk Māori students made accelerated progress in all areas with particularly high numbers accelerating in mathematics.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Leadership is strongly focused on building teacher capability. Explicit expectations for teaching and learning have been developed to guide teacher practice. There are effective systems for identifying student needs and monitoring and evaluating their achievement and acceleration. The appraisal system has been reviewed and strengthened and is strongly focused on improving and accelerating learning for identified students. Leaders use school data to guide decision making and professional learning is well-aligned to school goals and targets.

Teachers use deliberate and effective strategies to improve learning. A range of assessment tools are used to accurately identify student learning needs. Specific interventions are developed and implemented to improve outcomes for students. They set goals and work towards achieving these. Students with additional needs are closely monitored and there is appropriate liaison with outside agencies. Calm and well-organised environments and warm respectful relationships are conducive to student learning and wellbeing.

A broad curriculum enables students to learn and achieve. The school’s vision, values and special Catholic character are embedded in all aspects of school life. Every student has the opportunity to experience success in a wide range of areas including leadership, sport, culture and service. Te reo Māori and tikanga are planned for and integrated meaningfully. There are high expectations for student learning and behaviour creating a strong sense of belonging.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

There is a need to continue build more positive relationships between the school and the wider parent community. Priority should be given to:

  • consulting with parents to gather their views and aspirations

  • developing a shared vision for the future direction of the school

  • continuing to strengthen partnerships for learning

  • accessing external support to assist with this process.

School leaders and the board now need to extend achievement targets to focus on accelerating achievement for all student’s at-risk especially Māori students in writing, and boys in literacy.

3 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • finance

  • 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 and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to curriculum. In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  1. Provide appropriate career education and guidance for all students in Year 7 and above
    [NAG 1(f)]

  1. In consultation with the school’s Māori community, develop and make known to the school’s community policies, plans and targets for improving the progress and achievement of Māori students.
    [NAG 1(e)]

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • leadership for learning that is focused on improving outcomes for students

  • effective systems and processes are supporting acceleration and achievement

  • a culture for learning that enables a sense of belonging and wellbeing for students.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • consultation and communication to improve school/community relationships

  • accelerating learning to achieve equitable outcomes for all groups, particularly boys.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

21 November 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 - 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 22 Girls 34

Ethnic composition

Māori 7
Pākehā 35
Other 14

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

21 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2015
Education Review December 2010