St Joseph's Catholic School (Opotiki) - 28/05/2014

1 Context

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

St Joseph’s Catholic School Opotiki is an integrated full primary school catering for students in Years 1 to 8 from Opotiki and surrounding districts in eastern Bay of Plenty. Of the 201 students currently on the roll, 60% identify as Māori and two students have a Pacific heritage. Other students are from Asian, Indian and European backgrounds. Many students, parents, staff and trustees have long standing associations with the school and parish community.

This review finds that positive features identified in the 2011 ERO review continue to be evident. These include strong educational leadership, effective teaching that engages students in learning, and comprehensive links with the parish and wider community. Since the 2011 ERO review, teachers have engaged in professional development to enhance literacy and mathematics teaching and learning. The board, principal and staff have systematically addressed the areas for review and development identified in the 2011 report.

Parent partnerships are actively encouraged. Many parents participate in, and contribute generously to school activities including camps, sports events, church services and cultural celebrations. A collaborative approach to the pastoral care of all students, staff and families is managed efficiently and unobtrusively. Students and families have ready access to the principal, staff, parish community and external agencies when needed.

The school’s special Catholic character influences its motto, which is 'E noho i roto i te pono me to aroha' (Live in faith and love), and its values of respect, responsibility and reverence. These continue to be promoted and expected by the principal, staff and parish community. The school culture reflects the missional emphasis of its founders in that there is a strong focus on service to others. Students are continually encouraged to care for each other. They have opportunities for leadership and demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and pride in their school. There is a calm, settled tone in classes and the playground.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to positively influence learners’ progress and achievement. Formal and informal assessments are used throughout the school to:

  • identify students who are at risk of underachieving and set annual targets to raise their achievement
  • provide targeted programmes to address individual learning needs, especially in reading, writing and mathematics, and improve the achievement of English language learners
  • assist students in understanding their progress
  • identify students with special abilities to ensure their learning needs are catered for
  • provide useful information to parents, caregivers and families about progress, achievement and next learning steps.

Teachers use sound processes for determining overall teacher judgements about achievement in relation to National Standards. Overall results for 2013 are above national averages for reading and at the national average for writing and mathematics. Senior leaders plan to continue raising school-wide achievement to meet Ministry of Education targets by 2017.

School leaders and ERO agree that the school’s next steps are to review the use and interpretation of nationally referenced assessment tools and develop further opportunities and strategies for students to monitor their own progress and develop their next learning steps.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. There is a strong focus on the foundation skills of reading, writing and mathematics. Practical learning activities are developed in consultation with students, the community and external providers. A recent development is the inclusion of Chinese language and culture learning at all year levels. This year teachers are participating in professional development about inquiry learning and computer-assisted teaching and learning. Senior leaders are continuing to develop and document shared understandings about aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Success is regularly celebrated throughout the school. Students are encouraged to be resilient, confident, and socially competent. There are high expectations for behaviour and achievement. Nurturing relationships include tuakana/teina support, and individual care by teachers and the social worker in schools. Students new to the school are immediately included by their peers. A culture of positive inclusion is evident throughout the school.

Teachers know learners and their families well. A variety of effective teaching strategies includes giving students specific feedback about their progress and next learning steps. High quality, educationally stimulating classroom displays celebrate students’ art and writing. The positive impact of teachers’ recent professional learning is evident in all classrooms.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori as Māori. Students are continually encouraged to succeed and many achieve National Standards for their year levels. They have opportunities to participate in powhiri, kapa haka, tangihanga and waiata. Te reo Māori is promoted and integrated within class discussions and topic studies. All teachers have attended te reo Māori courses and some are continuing to extend their levels of competence in language and culture. Students and staff regularly visit local marae. School leaders agree that a next step is to continue to develop a systematic approach to teaching te reo Māori throughout the school.

Māori families appreciate opportunities for their tamariki to succeed as both Māori and Pākehā. Māori students are proud to be Māori and many achieve at or above National Standards.

Recent consultation with parents resulted in a vote of confidence in the school’s strategies for promoting Māori students’ progress and achievement.

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 because of the following features:

  • governance is effective. Trustees have a variety of relevant skills, expertise and experience. They represent Māori and Pacific families and provide strong support for staff and students. The board is well informed about students’ progress and achievement, which is used to guide strategic direction.
  • the experienced principal continues to provide effective professional leadership. She has strong support from the school, parish and wider community and works collaboratively with senior leaders to provide curriculum direction and pastoral care.
  • decisions about teacher professional development are based on overall achievement patterns. A constructive appraisal process requires teachers to reflect critically about their teaching practices.
  • self review is focused on continuous improvement. There are many opportunities for students and parents to give feedback to the board and staff about spontaneous and strategic issues. Senior leaders make positive changes in response to professional development and self review. The board and principal provide the community with the results of surveys and an annual review of the school’s performance towards meeting strategic goals.

Trustees and school leaders recognise that next steps are to:

  • sharpen annual targets so that they more specifically focus on students who are at risk of under achieving
  • continue to streamline the school’s overall self review framework
  • acknowledge the accelerated progress of at-risk achievers in staff appraisal processes.

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.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

28 May 2014

About the School


Opotiki, Bay of Plenty

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 58%

Girls 42%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Cook Island Māori

Other European

Other Asian








Review team on site

April 2014

Date of this report

28 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2011

February 2008

August 2004