St Mary's Catholic School (Otorohanga) - 15/07/2013

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s Arotake Paetawhiti review?

The ERO Education Review of June 2011 identified several significant areas needing to be improved. These were in relation to governance, leadership, student achievement and teaching practice in literacy.

Since that time, considerable progress has been made. Board membership and capability has been strengthened. The current board chairperson was appointed in Term 3 2011. She is providing informed leadership for other trustees, and much valued support for the principal and staff. The principal resigned to take up a new position, and the current principal took up her role in July 2012.

The school’s roll remains stable. There are 34 students enrolled and approximately half are of Māori descent. The teacher in the junior classroom remains on a fixed term contract with the board. The new principal has quickly developed positive working relationships with staff and the parent community.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

These are to:

  • strengthen governance, through recruitment and training
  • develop and implement robust performance appraisal systems and practices
  • build leadership and management capability through the work of the principal
  • develop assessment systems and practices
  • develop teaching and assessment practice, particularly in reading and writing.


Governance: The board has increased its membership and undertaken training to improve the knowledge and capability of trustees to effectively govern the school. The board chairperson has brought a useful set of skills to the role and she has been instrumental in re-establishing clear direction for the school and its community.

Leadership and management: The new principal is demonstrating knowledge of good leadership practices and is quickly settling into her role. Staff express their support for the new leadership, saying that the principal leads by example, has good time management for her dual role as a leader and a teacher. They are supportive of the priority that is being placed on student learning and achievement, and positive collegial interactions amongst staff are apparent.

The principal, with support from the board, is accessing relevant and challenging professional learning and development for teachers. They are being supported to manage challenging student behaviour. Consistent, high expectations for students and staff are developing and student punctuality and attendance has improved.

The school is now participating in a programme of literacy professional development for teachers that is funded by the Ministry of Education. The board and staff have responded to the low levels of student achievement in writing and are focusing their development on the teaching of writing.

Appraisal systems and practices: The board has employed an external consultant to appraise the performance of the principal and teaching staff. This process will include observations of teaching practice and feedback linked to goals for development. This process is now underway and a performance agreement and job description have been developed for the principal.

Assessment systems and practices: Considerable progress has been made in managing and using achievement information across the two classrooms. The principal leads a process for sharing assessment information that is assisting teachers to make overall teacher judgements (OTJs) about individual students in relation to National Standards. Better management and reporting of achievement data is enabling more evidence-based decision making by teachers, and at board level.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school has made considerable progress towards being well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance. Teachers are beginning to benefit from professional learning and development about literacy teaching and assessment practices. This work is improving the quality of the school’s achievement information, and the principal and board are now using this data to shape and improve systems and practices at all levels of the school. Key areas in relation to performance appraisal and teacher effectiveness to raise achievement in the junior level of the school are being addressed.

Priorities identified for review and development

Performance management process for the principal: The board must continue to ensure that the principal’s performance is measured annually in relation to set goals and the relevant professional standards, and that performance goals are aligned with priorities of the school’s annual plan.

Teacher appraisal and development: The principal is now working with teachers to develop and document their development objectives as part of the appraisal process. Continuing to develop the knowledge and confidence of the teacher in the junior class remains a priority, particularly in the use of effective strategies to raise the achievement levels of students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Assessment: As part of the developing ‘teaching as inquiry’ process, teachers need to work collaboratively with the principal to strengthen the interpretation and use of assessment information to identify and plan for next learning steps for individual students.

The principal plans to work with the board to revise achievement targets (for 2014 charter) to focus on priority learners.

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.

Dale Bailey National Manager Review Services Northern Region

15 July 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 26 Boys 8

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Special Features

Integrated Catholic School

Review team on site

April 2013

Date of this report

15 July 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

June 2011

June 2008

May 2007