St Mary's Catholic School (Papakura) - 02/11/2012

1 Context

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

St Mary’s Catholic School, in Papakura, caters for students from Years 1 to 8. The school’s values reflect its charism and mission statement: 'Together we learn, we pray, we serve; me whakakotahi, kia mārama, kia pono, ki te karakia'. The board has ensured that the revised school charter is bicultural in its intent.

Students have opportunities to contribute to the life of the school. They respond well to the inclusive environment that staff provide. Students are considerate of others and show a strong sense of belonging to the school and church community.

Since the 2009 ERO review, teacher participation in several school-wide professional learning and development initiatives has improved outcomes for students. Teachers are more aware of teaching and learning strategies that accelerate children’s progress. The principal and curriculum director have helped staff to reflect on their teaching practice and embed most of the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The board is informed about aspects of student achievement in a variety of learning areas including reading, writing and mathematics. From this information the board can determine significant patterns in student achievement. Targeted professional development for teachers has contributed to improving overall reading levels since the 2009 ERO review. The board is aware that writing and mathematics achievement results for some groups of students, including Māori and Pacific students, are varied. Students who are underachieving are provided with targeted programmes that cater for their learning requirements. Teachers are currently involved in a professional development initiative that is designed to improve mathematics achievement levels for all students. A focus of this initiative is to increase the cultural responsiveness of staff to Māori and Pacific learners. Such initiatives should contribute to raising the overall achievement levels of these two groups of learners and of individual students. It should also help students, at all year levels of the school, to reach their potential.

The board is yet to receive reliable information about how well students are progressing and achieving in relation to the National Standards. Senior leaders recognise that teachers require more support to form overall teacher judgements about how well students are achieving in writing, reading and mathematics. Senior leaders have also identified the need to develop systems to track the progress of different groups of students over time.

Teachers have incorporated student interests in their programme planning. This development has contributed to students having a greater sense of ownership of their learning. While students can explain what they have learnt, teachers could now support students to play a greater role in leading their own learning. Students would benefit from more opportunities to reflect on their learning and to plan ways to reach their agreed goals. To help this process, teachers could consider how they might build on their positive relationships with students and parents in order to develop, with families, partnerships that are focused on deeper learning.

3 Curriculum

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

Senior leaders have aligned the school’s curriculum and Catholic values with The New Zealand Curriculum principles. Most teachers have implemented a variety of teaching and learning strategies to accelerate student progress. School leaders and teachers have identified areas for development based on their analyses of student achievement information. The most recent focus on improving aspects of mathematics teaching and learning has been a result of this type of review. The teaching of writing has improved as a result of strategic curriculum leadership.

The board is prioritising the development and implementation of a well considered school plan to support student learning through the use of the school’s various information and communication technologies (ICT). This should help teachers to plan e-learning experiences that are meaningful for students.

The principal and the curriculum director have identified the need to review the school’s curriculum. They are committed to providing students with a broad curriculum that promotes deeper student thinking. In order to support sustained development, teachers have been increasingly involved in curriculum decision-making. Consistent with the aim of developing reflective professional practice, the principal has identified that the present appraisal system should be modified to provide more ongoing support for teachers. Team meetings now feature teacher discussions about how achievement information is used to personalise learning for individual students. Such measures are enhancing teachers’ leadership capability in curriculum development.

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

The school has developed greater links with representatives of the school’s Māori community since the 2009 ERO review. The board’s Māori trustee and school kaumātua have actively supported the board to promote a Māori perspective in school operations. Different strategies have been used to communicate with parents/whānau of Māori students about school goals and to gain an understanding of their aspirations for their tamariki. Several successful events have been organised to celebrate te ao Māori. The senior leaders are committed to building on these practices to ensure that the school provides more opportunities for Māori students to experience success as Māori.

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 board governs the school successfully and supports the principal and teachers. Trustees also value parent feedback and contributions. They think strategically about ways to support teachers and parents as they work to achieve positive outcomes for students.

The board and senior leaders use self review to identify areas for school development. Trustees use analysed achievement information to identify school priorities. The board has formally moved to implement the National Standards and to report to the Ministry of Education on progress towards achievement targets in relation to the National Standards. To improve practice, senior leaders plan to provide the board with more reliable achievement information as teachers become more confident in assessing children’s progress in relation to the National Standards. They have also agreed to ensure that written reports are in plain language so that parents are better informed about ways in which they can support their children’s learning.

ERO agrees with the areas that the board has identified for further development and review.

These include:

  • increasing opportunities for students to lead their own learning
  • improving the tracking and reporting of students’ progress
  • further promoting opportunities for Māori students to experience success as Māori
  • refining the reporting of student achievement in relation to the National Standards
  • deepening teachers’ reflective practice.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review there were five international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Teachers provide good learning support for International students. The parents of international students are regularly informed about their children’s progress and about how well they have adjusted to their new environment. International students are integrated into the school’s inclusive community and enjoy opportunities to participate in a variety of sporting, cultural and academic activities.

As good practice, the board should receive regular reports on the effectiveness of the school’s provision for international students. Such reporting should include a section on how well international students are engaged in learning, achieving and progressing.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

To improve current practice, senior leaders should prioritise professional learning and development to strengthen:

  • teachers’ understanding of the purpose of the National Standards and the ways that they can effectively report to parents, in plain language, about how well children are achieving in relation to the Standards
  • the analysis and moderation of assessment information across the school in reading, writing and mathematics.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Violet Tu'uga Stevenson

National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

2 November 2012

About the School


Papakura, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā







Other Pacific

Other Asian

Other ethnicities











Review team on site

September 2012

Date of this report

2 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2009

June 2006

June 2002