St Joseph's Catholic School (Matata) - 11/08/2016

Findings

St Joseph’s Catholic School (Matata) is a small, vibrant school that is well supported by the parish and local community. Students experience a strong sense of belonging and affirmation, and are positively engaged in their learning. The principal and teachers ensure that Māori students are able to succeed as Māori.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

St Joseph’s Catholic School (Matata) is an integrated Catholic school catering for students in Years 1 to 8. It is located in the coastal township of Matata, north of Whakatane. At the time of this ERO review, there were 39 students on the roll, 37 of whom identify as Māori.

The school made good progress in responding to the areas for review and development in the 2012 ERO report. This followed a period of difficulty when the school was assisted by a limited statutory manager (LSM) to overcome relationship challenges and a falling roll. The LSM helped the board of trustees and principal to strengthen governance and leadership processes, appoint a new teacher, and restore the school finances.

While good progress had been made, ERO and the board agreed in the 2014 ERO report that important next steps for the principal and teachers were to make better use of student achievement information. This use of information should assist planning and increase the accuracy of their overall teacher judgements (OTJs) in relation to National Standards. In addition, teachers were required to implement the newly developed teacher appraisal process, and plan appropriate professional development to enhance their responsiveness to student’s learning needs.

The school roll has continued to grow, and effective work has been done to build positive relationships with whānau. Students and their parents/whānau continue to be warmly welcomed into the school and well supported to achieve positive outcomes.

The special Catholic character is highly evident throughout the school environment and within learning programmes. The school vision and cornerstone values of mutual respect and caring, aroha, and gospel beliefs are promoting common understandings and expectations for learning amongst students and teachers. The employment of an additional teacher in the new entrant room, and the ongoing assistance of committed support staff, should allow the principal greater opportunity to lead teaching and learning. 

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO and the board agreed in the 2014 ERO report that important next steps for the principal and teachers were to make better use of student achievement information to:

  • plan more effectively to meet the learning needs of individual students
  • increase their knowledge of learning progressions in reading, writing and mathematics and share these with students
  • evaluate the effectiveness of their own teaching strategies
  • extend the good quality te reo Māori programme in the junior room to all students. 

In addition, teachers were required to implement the newly developed teacher appraisal process and plan appropriate professional development to enhance their responsiveness to student’s learning needs.

Progress

Teachers are using a mixture of nationally-referenced and school-based assessments and tasks to gather achievement information in reading, writing and mathematics.  They are using this information to make overall teacher judgements (OTJ’s) in relation to National Standards. Teachers report to parents and the board on the achievement of individual students and the progress of priority learners. Teachers are still developing the use of learning progressions to target their teaching and planning for children’s next learning steps and increase the accuracy of their OTJ’s.

Teachers are able to show positive gains to students’ learning and achievement in the short time that the students have been at the school. They have worked hard on the key competencies to build children’s self-esteem, capability and attitude towards their learning.

The principal reports regularly to the board on the achievement and progress of priority learners and in relation to charter goals and targets. Trustees scrutinise this information, make appropriate resourcing decisions, and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.

The principal and staff have collectively made very good progress in building a safe and affirming culture for learning. Teachers work collaboratively to ensure that each student has the chance to succeed. Students receive praise, affirmation and positive feedback. Their successes are acknowledged and celebrated. Classroom environments are positive, welcoming, and learning tasks are planned to interest and engage children in their learning.

The school curriculum strongly reflects the Catholic Special Character and is firmly grounded in te ao Māori and local contexts for learning. Students have opportunities to engage in a wide variety of learning experiences both within and outside the school. These experiences extend children’s horizons beyond home and school, and are well supported by the community. There is an appropriate focus on the teaching of literacy and mathematics. In other curriculum areas, teachers need to ensure that there is coverage of all learning outcomes and that a sequential and coherent approach is taken.

The school has established a close and positive relationship with the local marae and iwi. Teachers have organised a range of learning experiences in the local area to learn about Māori history, the surrounding environment, and include Māori contexts in the curriculum. They should continue to ensure that students have opportunities to hear, speak and use te reo Māori in all contexts, and engage in a progressive te reo Māori programme.

Key next steps

A priority for the school is to:

  • strengthen teachers’ understanding of assessment practices in relation to National Standards.  They need to make greater use of achievement information and the learning progressions to plan for individual student’s next learning steps. The school should seek external support to help teachers further develop their professional capability in these areas
  • extend students’ knowledge of and responsibility for their own learning. This includes sharing the language of learning, increasing students’ awareness of the learning progressions, and building their knowledge of their own achievement, progress, and next steps in learning.

An appraisal process is in place to guide the principal and teachers in improving their performance. A next step is to introduce teaching as inquiry based on priority learners, so that teachers are able to evaluate the effectiveness of their own teaching

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

Findings

The board is well led by an experienced chairperson who is also the chairperson of the parish. There is good representation from the school community, and a kaumātua provides a link with the local marae. Trustees have ensured succession planning during election time and transition to the new board. A governance manual guides board procedures, and school finances are being well managed. The principal reports regularly to the board in relation to progress against the strategic goals and student progress. The principal’s appraisal has been completed and an external appraiser appointed.

Relationships and communication with parents and whānau have been strengthened and the school benefits from high levels of collaboration and support by staff, volunteers, whānau, parish members, and the wider community.

Key next steps

The board and staff need to complete the review of school policies and procedures in line with new and current legislation.

The principal promotes a school culture that encourages all students to succeed and is growing leadership in others. She should continue to work with external expertise to grow her leadership capability in leading teaching and learning.

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.

Conclusion

St Joseph’s Catholic School (Matata) is a small, vibrant school that is well supported by the parish and local community. Students experience a strong sense of belonging and affirmation, and are positively engaged in their learning. The principal and teachers ensure that Māori students are able to succeed as Māori.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

11 August 2016

About the School 

Location

Matata, Bay of Plenty

Ministry of Education profile number

1948

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

39

Gender composition

Boys      20
Girls       19

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā

37
  2

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

11 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

December 2014
June 2012
June 2010