St John the Evangelist Catholic School - 02/09/2019

School Context

St John the Evangelist Catholic School (Otara) is a state integrated school for girls from Years 1 to 8 and boys from Years 1 to 6. The school shares a large site with the St John the Evangelist Parish, Te Whaiora Marae, Kohanga Reo, and the St John the Evangelist Preschool. Children from the parish of St Peter Chanel, Clover Park also attend the school. The school roll of approximately 250 students includes three percent Māori and 97 percent with Pacific heritages, with the largest group being Samoan. A significant number of children are bilingual.

The school is well supported by its community. Families are committed to the school, with many second and third generations now attending.

The recently elected board includes some new and existing trustees continuing from the previous board. A new chairperson is to be appointed. The school is led by an experienced principal and deputy principal. New team leaders have been appointed from within the staff.

The school’s vision statement, “Children to live life to the fullest”, underpins the school’s strategic direction. The school’s mission statement is “Live, learn and love together, through nurturing a lifelong love of learning central to the spiritual, emotional, social and academic success of students”.

The school has a focus on developing students’ social intelligence, social competence and self-management to enable greater collaboration. Children are keen to learn and have aspirations to achieve. They show pride in their cultural identity and home languages.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress and achievement in relation to targets in reading, writing and mathematics
  • provision for children with additional learning needs
  • students’ engagement and wellbeing for success.

Leaders and teachers have participated in a wide range of professional learning and development (PLD). This includes wellbeing, collaborative practice, connected curriculum, literacy and numeracy learning progressions, and innovative learning environments.

The board of trustees is continuing to work with the Catholic Diocese of Auckland to resolve a longstanding property issue that constrains the board in providing an effective learning environment for its community.

The school is part of the South Auckland Catholic Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako.

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?

Leaders and teachers are focused on achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. School data show that since 2016:

  • a large majority of students achieve at or above curriculum levels in reading
  • the majority of learners achieve at or above in writing
  • mathematics continues to be an area for development and shows a decline in achievement levels over time
  • some students make accelerated progress over time.

Leaders and teachers have established deliberate strategies for addressing a significant disparity between girls’ and boys’ achievement. While progress has been made to bring about parity in reading, disparity remains a challenge in writing and mathematics.

Teaching teams have begun to collaborate to share data about student achievement and learning. This collaboration is helping to strengthen teaching practices and develop student agency. Teachers identify and target students who need additional support to accelerate their progress and achievement.

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

The school has developed practices to accelerate learning for Māori and other students who need this.

A large majority of Māori students achieve at or above curriculum levels in reading, and the majority in writing. Achievement in mathematics continues to be an area for development. Separate data for Pacific learners show that a large majority achieve at or above expected curriculum levels in reading. Pacific learners’ achievement in writing and mathematics also continues to be an area for development.

Student progress and achievement is closely monitored and discussed at team meetings. Teachers modify learning programmes and appropriate support is provided where required, to continuously meet the needs of all students. This close tracking and monitoring is impacting positively on students’ progress.

There is strong provision for learners with English as an additional language. For children not achieving expected curriculum levels, additional support programmes are introduced to increase their skills in vocabulary, comprehension and oral language. They are well supported to access the curriculum and participate in the school culture.

Children with additional learning needs are integrated as part of the school’s inclusive practice. They make good progress in relation to their individual learning goals. Effective support is helping these children engage in their learning.

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?

The school’s strategic goals prioritise the special Catholic character, aim to provide a safe modern learning environment, and have a focus on wellbeing of students and teachers. Additional goals include engagement with the community, developing in-school leadership and building the capability and capacity of staff to deliver effective mathematics and literacy programmes.

A strategic approach to building leaders’ and teachers’ collective capacity is beginning to have a positive impact in the development of a responsive curriculum. The school’s special Catholic character drives curriculum design and is central to learning programmes.

Students learn in a caring, collaborative and inclusive environment. They experience a culturally responsive curriculum that affirms their language, culture and identity. Leaders and teachers are committed to providing equitable opportunities for learning and this is impacting positively on student outcomes.

The longstanding commitment from the parish and whānau is a sound foundation for the ongoing development of the school.

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

The board has identified the need to evaluate its effectiveness. The new board would benefit from an induction programme that includes how trustees can meet their statutory responsibilities effectively.

Future training for the board could include exploring the New Zealand School Trustee Association document Hautū: Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review tool for Board of Trustees. This would help the board undertake an evaluation of the school’s responsibility for, and effectiveness in, promoting greater success for Māori learners.

The board and school leaders have identified the need for greater whānau/aiga and community engagement. This strengthened partnership should include working with whānau Māori and fono Pacific to refresh the school’s Education Plan. Leaders and teachers should continue to seek parents’ aspirations for their children’s education in order to strengthen relationships with whānau/aiga.

Leaders recognise that engaging parents in learning-centred partnerships is critical for accelerating student progress. Leaders and teachers are developing schoolwide plans about how this will be implemented, particularly for learners most at risk of not achieving.

The school is in the early stages of reviewing curriculum design and developing a broad, responsive, local curriculum. This development should ensure sufficient coverage of all learning areas, particularly science and the arts. Identifying opportunities to build on all children’s talents and skills is likely to strengthen curriculum development.

The newly appointed leadership team is building a staff culture of professional collaboration. There are high trust relationships amongst staff that support teacher efficacy, flexibility and risk taking. Leaders and teachers would benefit from:

  • continuing to develop and embed new initiatives around ‘teaching as inquiry’ and collaborative tracking and monitoring of children’s progress
  • further promoting children’s ability to direct, shape and have choice in their learning
  • accessing external PLD in mathematics to complement developing teaching practices
  • further developing internal evaluation capacity, focused on sustaining positive learning outcomes for all children
  • reviewing classroom structures for learners that support equitable opportunities for learning
  • continuing the development of a culturally responsive curriculum that reflects the unique community context and history of this school.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of St John the Evangelist Catholic School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the strong commitment of the parish, families and whānau to ongoing school development
  • a collaborative approach to leadership that is impacting positively on student outcomes
  • opportunities that leaders and teachers have to develop their capacity and capability
  • the caring and collaborative environment that responds to students’ needs and promotes their learning success.

Next steps

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

  • leaders building stronger relationships with whānau and families that respond to students’ learning needs, promote their wellbeing and support their learning success
  • evaluation and inquiry processes that will help the board, leaders and teachers to identify what makes the most difference for learners, and to better analyse the impact on learner outcomes
  • evaluation at board level, to ensure that the school is meeting all statutory requirements.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should ensure that policies and procedures are up to date and that:

  • consultation with the community about the health curriculum is strengthened
  • appraisal processes meet Teaching Council requirements
  • annual reporting requirements to the Ministry of Education are met
  • improved financial systems and processes are consistently implemented
  • accurate records are kept when the public is excluded from board meetings.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

2 September 2019

About the school


Otara, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 59% Boys 41%

Ethnic composition

Māori 3%
Samoan 75%
Tongan 16%
Cook Island Māori 5%
other ethnic groups 1%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

July 2019

Date of this report

2 September 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2015
Education Review March 2013
Education Review October 2009