St Joseph's School (Temuka) - 17/04/2015

Findings

This school’s Catholic character is strongly evident in its respectful and caring culture. Most students achieve well. The principal and teachers effectively support students where needed. Students enjoy a broad and interesting curriculum. The school is very well led and managed. This report identifies the school as high performing.

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?

Students at St Joseph’s describe their school as a friendly, family-like place where ‘big kids look out for little kids’. The Catholic special character is very evident in the learning and everyday life of the school. Relationships among staff and students are respectful, inclusive and caring. Teachers focus on supporting the development and wellbeing of the whole child (emotional, physical, academic and spiritual).

Since the 2011 ERO review, the school has increased from four to five classrooms. There have been changes to staffing and roll growth. Three new teachers started at the beginning of 2015. Property developments include renovating several classrooms and building a ‘technology shed’ for students who like to do practical work.

The school has close links with the local parish and wider community, including businesses. The parent community is very supportive and provides funding to enhance students’ learning. The school also has close links with Catholic and other primary schools. This is in the areas of sport and other learning opportunities, professional development and support for staff and the leadership.

Good progress has been made in addressing the recommendations from the 2011 ERO review. The principal and teachers have undertaken significant professional development and successfully improved the reliability of assessment practices.

2. Learning

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

The principal and teachers make very good use of assessment information to support students’ learning. There are consistent and reliable school-wide systems for assessing students’ progress and achievement. These are supported by detailed guidelines and useful templates.

Approximately 80% of the students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The school has highly effective systems for early identification and ongoing monitoring of students who need extra support to succeed. This is underpinned by a strong commitment that no student ‘slips through the gap’.

Students are actively involved in assessment processes. They set learning goals and monitor their progress against these and other aspects of their learning. Alongside their teacher, they take an active role in updating their parents about their progress and achievement.

Parents are very well informed about their children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. This includes the school providing them with useful information about how they can help at home.

The next step is for teachers to continue to build students’ understanding of and ability to talk about their progress, achievement and next learning steps.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum strongly supports students’ interest in and success as learners. It is underpinned by the school's vision of ‘Actively Catholic’. There is a strong focus on values, such as, respectful behaviour, taking responsibility and making the world a better place (social action). Older students see themselves as role models and buddies for younger students.

The curriculum guidelines describe in detail other priorities for learning. These are that students will be self directed learners, diverse thinkers, effective communicators and have opportunities to individually shine. These priorities are very evident in teachers’ planning and the interesting learning opportunities within and beyond the classroom.

Students’ views and ideas are valued and responded to. They contribute to teachers’ appraisal and reviews of different curriculum areas. Within teacher-selected topics, students have choice about what they would like to learn more about and how this work is presented. The well-resourced technology shed was a student-led initiative.

Other strengths of the school’s curriculum include:

  • innovative ways to hook students into learning
  • creative resourcing, such as the ‘Tech Shed’ and mobile kitchen
  • a range of extra-curricula activities, such as choir, band and science club
  • very good use of ICT as a tool for teaching, learning and communication
  • well-planned and engaging topic studies that make good use of local places, people and industry to enrich students’ learning.

Students who need extra help with their learning are supported by purposeful interventions within and out of class. Many have detailed individual learning plans. Teachers work closely with parents of these children. Some staff have become very skilled in working with students with specific learning difficulties.

The principal and teachers are very reflective and improvement - focused. They look beyond their school for ideas and trial new strategies to raise student achievement. There is thorough and ongoing evaluative review of each curriculum area. This contributes to ongoing improvement.

The school and ERO have identified that the school needs to continue to:

  • strengthen how the school values and celebrates Māori and other cultures
  • strengthen its te reo Māori programme

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

Māori students achieve at a similar level to their peers. Most achieve well in relation to the National Standards. Individual Māori students are very well supported. This includes their learning and wellbeing.

The principal has led a cluster initiative to employ a specialist to advise and support the school in how best to support Māori students, as Māori. The specialist has begun this work and will guide the school’s consultation with parents.

The next steps are to:

  • ensure ongoing and well-documented consultation with Māori parents
  • explore what ‘success as Māori’ means in this school.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very ably managed and governed. It is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The principal ensures that the board is fully informed about student achievement and curriculum priorities. The board in turn, uses this information to make sensible resourcing decisions.

The principal is a strong, experienced and improvement-focused leader. She, and the board, regularly seek and respond to parents’ views. Staff members' strengths are valued and the principal intentionally builds their leadership skills.

Rigorous self review is well embedded. This is supported by useful guidelines, systems and templates.

The school has identified worthwhile goals for future development. These goals are evident in the school’s long and short-term plans. Other initiatives in the school, including teachers’ professional learning and appraisal, are carefully aligned to these goals. ERO affirms the school’s identified goals for development.

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

This school’s Catholic character is strongly evident in its respectful and caring culture. Most students achieve well. The principal and teachers effectively support students where needed. Students enjoy a broad and interesting curriculum. The school is very well led and managed. This report identifies the school as high performing.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

17 April 2015

About the School

Location

Temuka

Ministry of Education profile number

3532

School type

Catholic Integrated Full Primary (Years 1 - 8)

School roll

98

Gender composition

Boys: 50

Girls: 48

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Samoan

74

18

4

2

Special Features

Cluster office for Te Reo Aoraki Cluster

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

17 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2011

August 2008

June 2005