St Joseph's School (Balclutha) - 24/08/2015

Findings

Students are very well supported in their learning at St Joseph’s School. They learn in a family-like environment which promotes their wellbeing and holistic development.

The special Catholic character is well integrated into learning programmes. The board and principal are effectively governing and managing the school.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1. Context

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

St Joseph’s is a small integrated Catholic school in Balclutha. There have been changes in the teaching team, including the appointment of a new principal since the last ERO review in 2012. The board, principal and teachers have built a strong collegial team that works purposefully together for the benefit of all children. Students learn in a family-like atmosphere. The school is well supported by its community. At the time of this review the administration area and some teaching spaces were being refurbished.

The school values are based on the teaching of St Mary MacKillop. These are:

  • make room for all
  • listen to God’s call
  • do your bit
  • model an attitude of gratitude.

The values are highly evident in the daily life of the school. For example in the caring, respectful relationships students have with their teachers and with each other.

The school has maintained and continued to grow the good practices for students identified in the 2012 report. The board, principal and teachers have high expectations for all students to achieve success in their learning.

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 improve outcomes for students. Achievement information for 2014 shows that most students achieved at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Some students show accelerated progress in their learning.

Students are increasingly using learning information to set goals and next steps for learning with their teachers. They know where they are at with their learning and what they need to do to be successful. Older students benefit from being able to peer and self assess their own work. The principal has acknowledged that this practice could be extended throughout the school.

Teachers are making effective use of learning information. Teachers told ERO that targeted professional learning and development (PLD) has helped them develop a greater awareness and understanding of how to improve the learning for students at risk. This is evident in the way teachers:

  • plan deliberate strategies to improve the learning for students at risk of not achieving
  • regularly monitor the progress of these students
  • critically reflect on the quality of their teaching with a view to improving what they do.

The principal and trustees use achievement information well to make informed decisions about resourcing and staffing. The principal acknowledges that reports to the board could be more detailed and better show:

  • the impact of strategies and programmes on students’ learning
  • next steps for continued improvement to teaching and learning.

3. Curriculum

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

The curriculum very effectively supports student engagement and learning. A strong emphasis is placed on the holistic development of the child. The curriculum is very responsive to the needs, interests and abilities of the students and the wishes of the community. Students’ opinions about what and how they want to learn are sought and responded to. Students enjoy a wide range of opportunities to learn within an authentic and broad curriculum. The special Catholic character is well integrated into learning programmes.

The teachers, principal, trustees and community have developed a detailed vision for a 'St Joseph's student'. This vision indentifies the necessary skills and attitudes for students to be life-long learners. The next step is for leaders to evaluate the impact of teaching practices and programmes against the student profile to ensure that students achieve the desired outcomes expressed in the vision.

The principal and teachers have undertaken extensive PLD that has led to focused and meaningful curriculum review. The newly revised guidelines for writing, provide a very good model for reviewing other curriculum areas.

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

The school promotes educational success for Māori students well. Most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The trustees, principal and teachers are strongly committed to ensuring that Māori students experience success and a sense of belonging in the school.

The special character of the school includes Māori concepts such as manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and nurturing the child’s wairua. Te reo Māori and waiata are valued and included in religious instruction and classroom programmes. The board recognises that responding to the language, culture and identity of Māori students is ongoing work.

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. The board and principal are effectively governing and managing the school. Trustees have developed a useful and manageable strategic plan that focuses on what matters most.

Trustees ensure their efforts are devoted to improving student achievement. The principal and trustees are diligent in their roles and responsibilities. They foster a collaborative culture that promotes the school’s vision and values.

The principal makes very good use of the strengths and interests of teachers. She has been strategic in aligning students' learning needs to relevant PLD and teacher appraisal. These actions, combined with ongoing evaluation, have led to a cohesive approach to improving teaching and learning.

Trustees and the principal have identified, and ERO agrees, that the next steps for further developing the school are to continue to:

  • build on the success they have had in improving student achievement in writing and extend this to other aspects of learning
  • review the curriculum statements to reflect current good practice
  • improve the learning environment for students.

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

Students are very well supported in their learning at St Joseph’s School. They learn in a family-like environment which promotes their wellbeing and holistic development.

The special Catholic character is well integrated into learning programmes. The board and principal are effectively governing and managing the school.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

24 August 2015

About the School

Location

Balclutha

Ministry of Education profile number

3826

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

60

Gender composition

Boys: 32

Girls: 28

Ethnic composition

Pākehā, NZ European

Māori

Other

42

6

12

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

24 August 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2012

August 2011

May 2008