St James School (P North) - 05/02/2014

1 Context

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

St James School caters for 242 Years 1 to 6 students, in Hokowhitu, Palmerston North. Students come from diverse cultural backgrounds and an increasingly wide geographical area. The number of Māori students has increased to 17% of the school roll. Several students enrol with special education needs or specific requirements to support their learning.

The school's curriculum is strongly underpinned by its Catholic character. Parents actively engage in school activities and communicate high expectations for their children’s engagement and success. Strong learning partnerships with families are promoted by teachers, school leaders and trustees. A Whānau Rōpū supports the school’s curriculum initiatives and decision-making. Pōwhiri to welcome new families contribute to the family-oriented atmosphere of the school.

Recent senior leadership change has occurred. The school has a positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

Comprehensive analysis and inquiry into student achievement information underpins review and decision-making, and promotes positive student progress.

Trustees successfully use achievement information to establish the effectiveness of strategic goals. Regular reports to the board, collaboratively produced by teachers and senior leaders, clearly focus on improving outcomes for all students.

The principal and senior leaders use well-developed systems to support teachers to effectively inquire into the progress and achievement of individuals and groups of learners. An appropriate focus on promoting accelerated learning for students achieving below National Standards expectations in reading, writing and mathematics results in improved levels of achievement and progress. Recent achievement information shows most students, including Māori and Pacific learners, are achieving at or above the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. Progress information for 2013 shows a significant improvement for students achieving above the Standards in mathematics, in all year groups.

Assessment information is used to focus teaching for groups of students. Provision for students with specific or high learning needs is carefully considered and well supported. Students identified as having particular strengths are provided with a range of opportunities to develop and explore their talents.

Teaching and learning practices and processes support students to develop ownership and leadership of their learning. Parents are fully included in learning partnerships to support students’ learning. Teachers regularly and effectively communicate student learning information.

3 Curriculum

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

The St James School cxurriculum effectively engages students and consistently promotes their learning and progress. The values of self control, unity, perseverance, enthusiasm and respect are evident in practice throughout the school.

A well-considered, clearly articulated curriculum reflects the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum and is appropriately matched to the needs of students and aspirations of parents, whānau and the wider community. Clear and comprehensive guidelines for staff, support their effective teaching of curriculum priorities. The ‘connected curriculum’ is well-considered and supports the school’s vision for learning to be linked across the curriculum.

Staff practice is well aligned to the school’s expectations for effective teaching and learning. Teachers develop useful knowledge about their students through productive partnerships with families. Cultural identities and family connections are respected, affirmed and used to help students make learning meaningful to them. Learning is purposeful and linked to students’ experiences and prior learning.

Positive relationships contribute to an affirming and inclusive environment. Students' sense of belonging and educational risk taking are well supported. Teachers care for and show genuine interest in the wellbeing of students and their families.

Teachers are highly reflective practitioners. Individual and collective inquiry into the impact of their practice on student outcomes is thoroughly supported by the principal and school leaders. Teachers actively seek to improve their understanding of effective teaching and demonstrate this in practice.

Transition to school for students entering as five year olds is well planned. Children’s strengths, interests and relevant information are shared to support school entry. The Super Start programme promotes students’ familiarisation with the school environment and expectations.

Participation in a local network group to develop shared understandings of early childhood education services, kindergartens and schools, should further inform review and development of practices for students’ transition to school.

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

Māori students are affirmed in their identity, language and culture. They hear their language and see their culture through the school’s curriculum. They are supported to develop their understanding and capability in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori, and leadership within the school. There is a sustained commitment from school leaders and staff to include culturally responsive practice throughout the school. Māori students are successful and confident in their learning, and contribute positively to school life.

Whānau Rōpū contributions to the school’s endeavours are valued and supported. Authentic, meaningful partnership with the principal, trustees and other school leaders provide whānau Māori perspectives in the school’s curriculum.

The intention to develop strategic planning should promote ongoing improvement and support review of outcomes for Māori learners. School leaders recognise the need to sustain improvements made since the October 2009 ERO report and continue to build teacher capacity.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

Effective leadership and robust processes for review and evaluation promote sustainable practice and ongoing improvement to achieve the school community’s vision for successful learning.

Trustees are active in the school and committed to its vision and priorities. They are clear about their roles and responsibilities. They focus on student achievement and give priority to resourcing that supports learning for all groups of students.

Self review is evident at all levels of school operation and practice. Strong alignment between the school’s vision, the board’s strategic intentions, professional leadership and the curriculum contributes to successful student engagement and learning.

High expectations for student success are clearly expressed at all levels of the school and within the wider community. Students know about expectations to encourage their positive involvement in the school’s curriculum.

The principal models and provides strong professional leadership. The capabilities of senior leaders and teachers are actively promoted and their professional growth supported. Professional development is purposeful and effective in engaging teachers in focused learning aligned to learner priorities.

Trustees, school leaders and teachers purposefully engage with families in multiple ways to consult and share information. They seek parents’ aspirations and respond in timely and appropriate ways. A welcoming, family environment supports students, parents and whānau to contribute and engage in all aspects of school life.

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 four-to-five years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

5 February 2014

About the School


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 51%, Female 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Latin American



Other European

Other ethnic groups








Special Features

State integrated Catholic school

Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

5 February 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2009

May 2006

July 2003