St Joseph's School (Nelson) - 08/03/2019

School Context

St Joseph’s School (Nelson) is an integrated school providing a Catholic education for students from Years 1 to 8 in Nelson. At the time of this review it had 393 students from a diverse range of cultures.

The school’s vision and values are for students to ‘have life and have it to the full’ and that the values of caring for ourselves, others and the world are demonstrated by the school community being the heart and hands of Jesus.

The school’s strategic and annual goals are for:

  • students to develop spirituality in accordance with Catholic teaching
  • teachers to support students to grow their knowledge, skills and dispositions to reach their full potential
  • students to progress and achieve
  • everyone to be valued and included, and for diversity to be respected and celebrated
  • educationally powerful partnerships with families/whānau to be built.

leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:To know about the school’s performance against these goals,

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets

  • outcomes for students with additional learning needs, including gifted and talented students

  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets, such as attitude and engagement in learning in mathematics.

Since the last review, a new principal, deputy principal, board chair and several new trustees have been appointed.

The school belongs to the Kāhui Ako ki Whakatū | Nelson City Community of Learning (CoL).

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?

The school is effectively achieving equitable outcomes for most of its students in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement levels have been consistently high over several years.

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

Leaders and teachers can clearly show they have significantly accelerated the progress of those Māori students and other students who had not reached the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.

Overall, most of the students who have not reached the school’s expectations have made accelerated progress in mathematics, some in reading and the majority in writing.

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?

Relationships at all levels are caring and respectful. Students have a strong sense of belonging to the school. There are close connections between the school, parish and students’ homes, that support learning and teaching programmes across the school. Students ERO spoke with said they feel safe, included and cared for by each other and their teachers.

Students benefit from a broad curriculum underpinned by the school’s special Catholic character and are increasingly taking responsibility for their learning. Children can talk about their achievement, set goals towards their next learning steps and confidently seek help when it is needed. They know the school’s vision and values, which are enacted in the daily life of the school.

Teachers provide a collaborative, inclusive learning environment. They know their students and families well. Students who need extra help to succeed have programmes tailored to meet their needs and are closely tracked and monitored. These students become a focus of teachers as they inquire into the effectiveness of their own practice on outcomes for students. Students for whom English is a second language, are well supported by a specialist teacher to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for their learning.

Teachers have participated in a range of in-depth professional learning and development (PLD) programmes which have significantly and positively impacted on their teaching practice. These programmes include developing culturally responsive pedagogy, religious education and mathematics. Teachers are reflective practitioners, with a strong improvement focus. They are open to change that they can see will lead to positive outcomes for students. They need to continue to gather student voice to ensure equity for all.

Leaders and teachers have effective systems in place for the identification of, response to and the tracking and monitoring of progress of students who need additional support to succeed. They focus on these students particularly when they inquire into the effectiveness of their own practice. Leaders discuss the needs, specific programmes and progress of the priority learners in their syndicates and at leaders’ meetings to ensure an ongoing focus for their support.

Leaders recognise the strengths of their staff and local expertise. They promote opportunities for students to develop an awareness and appreciation of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage. Strategic PLD is supporting teachers to grow their confidence and competence as active Treaty of Waitangi partners.

Since the 2015 ERO review, the school has responded to ERO’s findings by strengthening the appraisal process and the range of information used for making overall teacher judgements about students’ achievement.

Leaders and teachers use a wide range of communication tools and means of reporting, to support and strengthen reciprocal learning-centred and faith-based relationships with parents, families and the wider community.

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

The board, leaders and teachers now need to:

  • further develop a shared understanding of internal evaluation and implement a rigorous process of evaluation in order to know what works well, why, and what does not
  • review and refine the strategic and annual plans to better show the school’s priorities and future direction
  • focus targets on accelerating the progress of students yet to reach expectations and align reporting to these.

Leaders and teachers need to strengthen and ensure the consistency of systems and practices, such as appraisal and PLD.

It would be timely for the board to:

  • continue to develop their understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities

  • put in place succession plans to ensure that systems and practices are sustainable.

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 Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of St Joseph’s School (Nelson) performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

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 caring and respectful relationships at all levels

  • the provision of a broad curriculum underpinned by the school’s special Catholic character

  • the provision for students who need extra help to succeed.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening internal evaluation processes and practices

  • reviewing and refining the strategic and annual plans to better show the school’s priorities and future direction

  • continuing to grow trustees’ understanding of governance roles and responsibilities.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services Southern

8 March 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Integrated Catholic School

Full Primary (Years 0-8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 52%

Boys: 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 10%

Pākeha 71%

Pacific 5%

Asian 12%

Other ethnicities 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

8 March 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: December 2015

Education Review: October 2012

Education Review: November 2009