St Joseph's Catholic School (Te Kuiti) - 10/10/2011

1 Context

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

St Joseph’s Catholic School is a well-established, state integrated primary school in Te Kuiti. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8 from the local town and surrounding rural areas. Students benefit from the school’s special Catholic character, the support of the parish and community, and the inclusion of te reo and tikanga Māori. Recent classroom refurbishments and computer technology upgrades, have contributed to the high-quality learning environment and are appreciated by children and their families.

At the time of the previous ERO review in June 2008, the principal had just been appointed. Since then, additional staff changes have included the appointment of two new teachers, and a new director of religious studies. The board and principal have responded positively to the recommendations in the previous ERO report. They have developed a new strategic plan, improved the quality of reporting on student achievement, and raised expectations for staff and students.

A special feature of the school is the safe and inclusive school culture that reflects the school’s special character. Students are encouraged to act independently and responsibly in a family-like atmosphere.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

In mid 2011, analysed student achievement information showed that nearly all students were achieving at or above the National Standards in reading. In writing, 91% were at or above National Standards, and in numeracy 89% were achieving at or above the standards. These figures represent an improvement compared to 2010.

The principal and teachers are gathering, collating and analysing student achievement information in numeracy and literacy. Achievement and progress in relation to National Standards are regularly shared with the board and reported to parents. Parents appreciate the clarity and usefulness of the written reports and the guidance in helping their children with their next learning steps.

Students at risk of underachieving are identified early and provided with good quality learning support programmes. New entrant children are supported to settle quickly into school, and their parents are kept well informed during this process. Students’ achievement and successes are celebrated in newsletters and in assemblies.

While teachers provide students with a broad and comprehensive curriculum, they have now recognised that identifying and providing for individual students who are gifted and talented is an area for review and further development. School leaders have identified that it is timely to review the assessment programme to better align practices with the requirements of the National Standards. In addition, teachers could further extend the ways they share assessment information with students so that they are able to articulate how well they are achieving and identifying their next learning steps.

How well are Māori students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Māori students have improved their achievement and progress since 2010 in literacy and numeracy. In reading, nearly all Māori students are achieving at or above the National Standards. In writing and mathematics most students are now achieving at or above these standards.

Through the school’s recognition of Treaty of Waitangi obligations, and its special Catholic character, students are able to learn te reo and tikanga Māori and become familiar with significant local Māori contexts. The board, principal and teachers have considered the Ministry of Education publicationKa Hikitia. A next step is to explore ways to promote Māori students’ own sense of belonging, culture and identity in more depth.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum promotes and supports shared learning very effectively. The board of trustees and principal have undertaken extensive consultation and discussion about the school’s curriculum. This document integrates traditional and new concepts into a cohesive and well-considered document. The principal has sought external advice and support to develop the school’s values, vision, principles, key competencies and teaching approaches, and has aligned these with the strategic direction, the school’s special Catholic character, and the National Standards.

Students enjoy a broad and comprehensive curriculum that ensures high-quality programmes in numeracy, literacy, inquiry learning and religious education, a programme of te reo and tikanga Māori, a strong emphasis on sport, and opportunities to pursue music, art and drama. In addition, students enjoy competitions with other schools, traditional events and celebrations, and camps and outings in the local area.

Students learn in classrooms where there are warm, respectful relationships. They respond cooperatively to clear guidelines, known routines and positive behaviour guidance. Their learning is acknowledged and supported by well-resourced, inviting classroom environments where the school’s values and special character are displayed and modelled. Teachers establish high expectations for learning and behaviour, and use a good range of effective teaching strategies and practices. These include giving students:

  • explanations about the purpose of the learning and what they have to do to succeed
  • feedback about their learning through teacher conferencing, peer assessment and self evaluation
  • opportunities for inquiry learning processes that allow them to explore and research topics of interest related to the school’s curriculum.

Teachers have recently engaged in professional development in numeracy and writing. These initiatives are resulting in teachers increasing their understanding of current best practice, and in positive achievement outcomes for students. A next step for the teachers is to develop and document their agreed understanding about current best practice in teaching and learning, including ‘teaching as inquiry’ as part of their performance management process.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

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

Governance: The committed and enthusiastic board of trustees is ably led by a well-informed and competent chairperson. Trustees have high expectations for the quality of education and are aware of students’ progress and achievement. They contribute a range of skills to the governance of the school and have valuable connections with the local parish and community. Training in board operations, governance, The New Zealand Curriculum, National Standards and Ka Hikitia has been undertaken with external help and support. The board is supportive of the principal and staff, and is providing high-quality governance for the school.

Leading and managing: The principal is experienced and knowledgeable. She has managed change well and worked hard to provide a caring and positive learning culture for staff, students and their families. She is committed to effective professional leadership of teaching and learning, and places an emphasis on current good practice informed by external support and guidance. The principal is well supported by a capable and long standing deputy principal and new director of religious studies.

Engagement of parents and community: A feature of the school is the close relationship that the school experiences with its parish and parent community. Parents feel welcome in the school and engage in conversations about their children’s learning with the teachers. They attend school events and give constructive feedback when their ideas are sought. Open and transparent communication is maintained with parents and the wider community.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • 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. 

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

10 October 2011 

About the School

Location

Te Kuiti

Ministry of Education profile number

1953

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8) Integrated Catholic School

School roll

101

Gender composition

Girls 56% Boys 44%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

NZ Māori

Chinese

Pacific

Fijian

Other

Indian

75%

14%

3%

3%

2%

2%

1%

Review team on site

August 2011

Date of this report

10 October 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2008

June 2008

May 2002