St John Bosco School (New Plymouth) - 09/05/2016

1 Context

St John Bosco's School is an integrated Catholic school in New Plymouth. The roll of 232 students includes 13% who identify as Māori.

The roll has grown steadily over the last four years. An increase in the diversity of the students includes those with English language and additional learning needs. A building project is in the final planning stages.

The special Catholic character is promoted through the values of love, resilience, cooperation and service. The vision and values underpin strategic direction, school systems and classroom programmes. There are high expectations for student engagement and learning.

The school has had significant involvement in the Skills4Life programme. Physical activity and student confidence in participating have increased as a result.

Since the March 2012 ERO report, a new principal and senior management team have been appointed.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are that they will thrive as a result of a collaborative approach to enacting the school's vision of "Foundations and Faith for the Future". Successful students are seen as creative, independent, self-managing, critical thinkers, who collaborate, actively participate and communicate effectively. An increased focus on inquiry-based learning fosters these attributes.

There has been a significant focus on developing a curriculum framework for teaching, learning and assessment. Students' learning in literacy and mathematics is enhanced through an integrated approach in a science-based context. Evidence indicates increased levels of engagement and achievement in writing for groups of boys and others.

The school’s achievement information shows that the large majority of students achieve at or above National Standards in reading and writing. Variance in achievement between groups of students is evident, particularly in mathematics. The achievement of Māori students is slightly below that of their peers in writing and reading. Strengthening the strategic focus on accelerating achievement for this group of students should assist the school to achieve equitable outcomes for learners.

Mathematics has been identified by the school as an area to continue working on to raise overall achievement. Accelerating boys’ achievement in writing was identified by the school in 2015 as an area for development. This approach in 2016 should be sustained to achieve the desired levels of success.

Leaders and teachers share and use evidence of student achievement and progress to support decision making that assists ongoing improvement. They know the students well. A collaborative approach to promoting student wellbeing and successful outcomes is highly evident.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • developed a curriculum that clearly articulates the vision and expectations for effective teaching and learning
  • continued to strengthen home-school partnerships
  • developed appropriate programmes to extend and develop learning for children with special needs
  • extended a reflective and collaborative culture across the school
  • through teaching as inquiry, focused on building capability to better meet the needs of their students.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school uses a wide range of data, assessment tools and information to identify those at risk of not achieving. This data is explored and analysed by all the staff, and used to inform student learning pathways and programmes. Students' learning styles and preferences are shared between teachers to enhance productive learning relationships.

Teachers plan responsive programmes and inquiries that enable most Māori students to make progress. School leaders and trustees have identified the need to focus on strategies and resourcing that will help accelerate the progress of those students who are achieving below expectations.

Regular consultation with the Māori community has identified both strengths and areas to further enhance responsiveness to tamariki. A focus on establishing learning partnerships with whānau is evident. There are well-considered transition strategies for children on entry to school. The school is continuing to strengthen the partnerships for leaders, teachers and students through establishing stronger links with the hapū, iwi and local marae.

Māori students experience an environment where their language, culture and identity are affirmed and valued. A next step to further improve the responsiveness of the curriculum for these students is to:

  • strengthen the cultural competencies of teachers of Māori learners
  • ensure contexts and experiences are more representative of te ao Māori across all levels and areas of the curriculum.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Through good access to a wide range of information teachers know their children well and plan responsively to meet their needs. The consistent and collaborative approach to planning enables effective, ongoing sharing of information. This includes data, learning attributes, intervention strategies, successes and challenges teachers have faced in accelerating learners. Some students who are at risk of not achieving are included in the teachers' inquiry into their practice.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence?

The board is community-focused. A wide range of achievement data is presented to the board and used to inform resourcing decisions. Trustees are culturally diverse and bring a range of expertise to their roles.

The principal and senior managers are actively involved in planning, coordinating and leading curriculum initiatives. A deliberate approach to growing leadership within the school is highly evident. Leaders focus on building collective capacity through inquiry, to help inform innovation in teaching programmes and improve engagement and success for all students.

Community collaboration and partnerships extend and enrich opportunities for students to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners. The board and leaders actively seek the perspectives and aspirations of students, parents, and whānau to inform change. A range of opportunities is provided for parents, whānau and adults to contribute, participate and extend students' learning experiences.

Teachers and leaders engage in learning conversations to share strategies and find solutions to meet the needs of students in curriculum programmes and through high quality teaching practices.

Students participate in a caring, collaborative and inclusive learning community. Their ownership of learning is being encouraged across the school. Many students can discuss their learning, goals and what they need to do to improve. Students in most classes confidently use a range of tools and strategies to support independent learning.

Significant work has been undertaken to improve the processes and systems that promote high quality teaching, learning and student achievement. To sustain ongoing improvement, the school should further develop its understanding and use of effective internal evaluation at all levels, to ensure equity and excellence for all learners.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • do not always or systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • have a plan in place but have not yet built teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children.

To further raise the achievement for students at risk of poor educational outcomes, a clear line of sight from board to leaders to teachers needs to be developed. This should include:

  • appropriate achievement targets that identify strategies and groups of students whose learning needs accelerating
  • developing specific, personalised strategies to address the identified gaps
  • leaders and teachers including the target students learning outcomes in their appraisal goals
  • reports to the board of trustees on the progress towards the strategic achievement goals, to better monitor the impact interventions are having on these groups.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop a Raising Achievement Plan to further develop processes and practices that respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement Plan and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years.

6 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 the following:

  • Board administration.

  • Curriculum.

  • Management of health, safety and welfare.

  • Personnel management.

  • 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.

  • Processes for appointing staff.

  • Stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.

  • Attendance.

  • Compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that trustees, leaders and teachers continue to strengthen current practices to more sharply focus on deliberate strategies to further improve outcomes for Māori and other groups of learners. Accelerating the progress of these students is a priority. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

9 May 2016

About the school

Location

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

2233

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

232

Gender composition

Girls 58%, Boys 42%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākeha

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

13%

74%

7%

6%

Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

9 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2012

August 2008

August 2005