St Joseph's School (Queenstown) - 07/10/2013

1 Context

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

St Joseph’s School is an urban school providing education for students in Years 1 to 8. Teachers make very good use of the local environment. Students experience many of the unique activities the town offers.

The Christian values of the school are integral to all that happens. The school’s vision of “creating confident learners who, like Jesus, make a positive difference” is highly evident in the:

  • caring and positive relationships among students, and between teachers and students
  • classroom and school programmes
  • focus on developing the whole child, spiritually, academically, socially and physically.

Students’ learning benefits from low class numbers and the small size of the school. Students told ERO that teachers know them well and everyone looks after each other.

The school values the high levels of support from its families and community. The board, principal and teachers place strong emphasis on involving families in their children’s learning and the life of the school.

Since the last ERO review in 2010, the school has made good progress with the recommendations made in the report. In particular the school has developed strong home/school links, strengthened assessment practices and involved students more 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 good use of achievement information to make positive changes to learning. Since the last ERO review, students have greater involvement in their learning. They assess their own work against set criteria, decide the next steps to progress their learning, and report their progress and achievement to parents.

Teachers use achievement information effectively to make decisions about their teaching approaches and to identify the learning needs of individuals and groups of students. ERO noted some very good examples of teachers using information well to evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching and class programmes. Parents receive very detailed reports about their children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

Trustees make appropriate use of achievement information to inform their resourcing decisions and monitor their progress towards meeting strategic priorities.

Next Step

To improve the use of achievement information, teachers and school leaders should further analyse classroom and school data to identify why achievement is like this, what is the significance of these findings and what are the next steps. This should provide trustees, leaders and teachers with a better understanding of the impact of school-wide and classroom teaching and learning programmes.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

The school’s curriculum makes a strong link to the spirit and culture of Dominican life and its motto of “Walk in truth”. The core values of respect/tapu and honesty/pononga underpin all learning at the school. There is a clear rationale for choices made in designing the curriculum and in selecting learning areas of emphasis, such as literacy, mathematics and physical activity. Students have meaningful learning experiences across all subject areas.

Other key features of the school’s curriculum are:

  • students learning about environmental education
  • the content taught in one part of the curriculum is well integrated into other learning programmes
  • the focus on developing leadership skills, especially in Year 8
  • that students have appropriate levels of choice and input into their learning
  • the way learning programmes are structured to allow all students to work to their ability levels.

Students benefit from very good teaching practice. ERO observed:

  • well-paced lessons with a sense of urgency for students to make progress
  • teachers using effective strategies to engage and teach students
  • teachers making the purpose of learning clear to students and providing purposeful feedback to them about their learning.

Next step

School leaders and teachers need to formally identify good practices occurring within the school and include them in the expectations for teaching and learning. This should lead to greater consistency and teachers having a shared understanding of how some tools for learning can show progressive steps between year levels.

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

The board, leaders and teachers value and respond thoughtfully to the identity, language and culture of their Māori students. This is seen in the way:

  • te reo Māori is used throughout school
  • all students have opportunities to participate in kapa haka and other cultural activities
  • the principal purposefully gathers the views of parents and whānau of Māori students
  • the principal and teachers build effective learning partnerships with whānau.

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.

The strategic planning provides explicit direction for the board and principal. There is well-considered alignment between the strategic plan, professional learning and development, teaching and learning programmes, and the principal’s and teachers’ appraisal goals.

The board has a good understanding of the importance of self review. The principal and trustees use well-designed formats and questions for reviewing the curriculum and aspects of school operations. They gather the opinions and perspectives of parents, students and teachers. Reviews are used to affirm good practice and identify where improvements are necessary.

Next step

The principal and board need to refine their reporting against the strategic plan by making reporting more evaluative about how well strategic aims are being met. This is likely to provide a better understanding of the effectiveness of initiatives and programmes.

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.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

7 October 2013

About the School

Location

Queenstown

Ministry of Education profile number

4016

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

136

Gender composition

Girls: 53% Boys: 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

European

Filipino

Other

69%

7%

14%

6%

4%

Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

7 October 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2010

February 2007

June 2003