St Francis Xavier School (Mornington) - 02/05/2014

1 Context

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

St Francis Xavier is a Year 1-6 Catholic school in Mornington, Dunedin. The school has a stable roll with children from many ethnicities. It focuses on keeping junior classes smaller.

The school’s special character and Christian values are very evident throughout the school. Supporting the holistic development of all students is a priority for the school community. The relationships between students, teachers and outside agencies are positive, caring and respectful. Effective communication between members of these groups helps maintain these relationships.

Teachers and parents have high expectations for students to succeed. Most students achieve well or very well against the National Standards. Students are effectively engaged in their learning. Strong partnerships between the school, parish and the parent community effectively support students' learning.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is used well to make positive changes for students’ learning.

Teachers know their learners very well. They are using student achievement information to support individual students through grouping and identifying next learning and teaching steps. Students who need support are quickly identified and given additional teaching to improve their levels of achievement.

Students, with their teachers, set appropriate learning goals and identify what the new learning will look like when mastered. Student successes are celebrated in a variety of ways within classrooms, the school and with the wider school community. Some senior students spoken with by ERO were confident in their understanding of how well they were achieving in relation to the National Standards.

School-wide student achievement information is used by leaders to identify common areas of learning that need to be focused on in future programmes. These are reflected in the school’s charter targets.

Trustees make appropriate resourcing decisions based on the assessment information they receive, to better support these students. Additional funding is used to provide extra teaching and support for students with special learning needs.

Areas for review and development

Teachers could extend their sharing of assessment information with students to increase their awareness of their progress and where they need to improve.

Trustees should know the impact support programmes are having, and have had, on accelerating students’ rates of progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

The school places great importance on providing students with a safe and secure learning environment. The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) key competencies of managing self and relating to others are explicitly taught and very evident in practice. Significant contributing factors to this positive environment include:

  • all adults taking collective responsibility in supporting students’ wellbeing
  • student wellbeing as paramount to students’ success across all learning areas underpinning the way in which all individuals work together at the school
  • the understanding the school community has about how behaviour will be managed and the consistent use of the school’s guidelines for managing behaviour
  • the expectation that students will develop the skills and attitudes including resilience, to manage their own behaviour and be able to contribute to the wellbeing of others.

A range of useful practices support students to successfully transition into school and move to different classes as they progress through the years.

The school’s curriculum is well designed to reflect the wishes, aspirations and values of its community and parish. Students ERO spoke with could talk about how their learning, particularly in Religious Education, influences the way they behave.

Students enjoy a wide range of interesting learning experiences, many of which involve outdoor pursuits and excursions. These include camps, sports and recreation, cultural experiences and fortnightly Family Group times. Family Group times provide valuable experiences for senior students to develop responsibility and show leadership. This time also supports the family atmosphere of the school by providing regular across-school mixed-age activities.

Students receive good-quality teaching in well-managed and settled classrooms. Teachers plan to meet the needs and abilities of all their students. Students benefit from the purposeful ways teachers focus on developing their skills and knowledge. Students with special abilities are having increasing opportunities to extend their thinking, skills and experiences through in-class extension and specific programmes.

Area for review and development

To provide more rigour to learning area reviews, school leaders should implement the good practices used in some specific programme reviews. This includes gathering the perspectives from key stakeholders, reviewing against specific curriculum goals, and identifying strengths and areas for improvement.

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

The school is developing a curriculum to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Tikanga Māori, including core concepts such as manaakitanga/respect and caring, whanaungatanga/relationships, wairua/spiritual and tuakana–teina (older students supporting younger students socially and with their learning), are a natural part of school life. Teachers could extend their recognition of Māori students' special abilities and link these more closely to Māori values/attributes prized by Māori.

School leaders and teachers have high expectations for Māori students. They work together to ensure all students make appropriate progress to achieve success. Most Māori students are well engaged in their learning and the life of the school and are achieving at appropriate levels in mathematics, reading and writing for their age.

Teachers include many Māori contexts in students’ learning and class activities. Māori students who spoke with ERO said they felt proud and special when they learn about their culture. Teachers show a strong commitment to increasing their knowledge and confidence in te Ao Māori.

All students hear and use some te reo Māori during their school day. Teachers have identified the need to review the school’s te reo Māori to better reflect the progressions students make as they move through the school.

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. Trustees, leaders and teachers continually reflect on their practice and are focused on improving outcomes for students. Trustees are engaged in, and knowledgeable about, their governance role.

Since the last ERO review in 2011, the principal and teachers have identified the need to improve some aspects of their school culture and programmes. They have used a strategic approach to successfully improve these areas. This can be seen in the use of restorative practices and the development of the assessment of students’ writing.

Leadership and staff collegiality are positive features of the school. The staff work effectively together to benefit all students. The inclusive leadership style of the principal contributes greatly to this. The principal and other school leaders model and foster a culture of shared responsibility for the wellbeing and success of all students.

Area for review and development

Since the last ERO review the principal has developed clearer links between the school’s strategic and annual planning. The board and principal should refine the strategic and annual plans so that they clearly reflect the school’s current priorities. This should include how progress towards these will be monitored and reported on.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

2 May 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys: 58 Girls: 46

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā










Review team on site

February 2014

Date of this report

2 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2011

October 2007

August 2004