St Mary's Catholic School (Tauranga) - 11/11/2013

1 Context

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

St Mary’s Catholic School Tauranga is a state integrated primary school catering for students from Years 1 to 6 located in central Tauranga. At the time of this ERO review the school’s roll was 388 including 50 students who identify as Māori. The school’s roll also includes 11 international fee paying students.

Since the 2010 ERO review the school has appointed a new principal while teaching staff has remained consistent. Significant professional development has been accessed in literacy and mathematics for school leaders and teachers to further improve outcomes for students. Several new trustees were elected at the 2013 board elections.

The school’s vision has its origins in the charism established by the Cluny Sisters who founded the school in 1948. The primary purpose for establishing the school was to teach the children the gospel values of Jesus Christ which lies at the heart of the school’s special character. The school’s highly evident special character contributes to a family like atmosphere and positive tone for learning. A recently developed learning vision promotes teachers, students and parents as being assessment capable. Students and teachers benefit from the contributions of an active and supportive parent teacher association.

The school has a good ERO reporting history and has responded positively to the areas for development identified in the 2010 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

School leaders collate school-wide achievement data in reading, writing and mathematics to inform their decision making, including identifying students who require additional support or extension. They are continuing to develop useful guidelines and systems to support teachers to make robust judgements in relation to the National Standards. ERO and school leaders agree that there is a need to review the reporting forms to ensure that National Standards information is clearly stated for parents.

The board receives regular reports about student achievement and use this information to effectively inform their resourcing decision making. They set meaningful student achievement targets in the school charter. The principal and trustees have recently reviewed the school’s processes to ensure greater timeliness and clarity in reporting school-wide student achievement information to the board.

Teachers use a wide range of student achievement information to group students for instruction. ERO and school leaders observed many teachers effectively using this information to plan and implement meaningful learning programmes. In these classes students were able to talk confidently about their learning progress and next steps, reflecting the school’s vision of assessment capable learners.

The school reports that at the end of 2011 and 2012 a significant majority of students achieved at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. This information indicated that Māori students achieved at similar levels to their non-Māori peers at the school.

3 Curriculum

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

St Mary’s Catholic School’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning.

The school’s special catholic character permeates all aspects of the school and underpins the curriculum. Students have many opportunities to experience success in an extensive range of sporting, cultural and academic competitions and events. They enjoy frequent trips and camps in the local and wider community. A close relationship with the local parish enhances students learning experiences. A special feature of the school is the positive and affirming relationships among students, teachers and parents.

The curriculum places priority on promoting achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics. There are many examples of high-quality teaching practice that supports students as self managing independent learners. Students respond positively to teachers’ high expectations and the opportunity to challenge themselves. A recent successful initiative has been specific professional learning for teachers to support them to accelerate the progress of students who were achieving below the National Standards in writing. Students with particular learning needs receive well tailored support that is effectively monitored by a knowledgeable member of the senior leadership team.

Students benefit from learning in safe, attractively presented and well-resourced environments. Parents spoken to by ERO appreciate the inclusive school culture, particularly for new students and those with diverse learning and health needs.

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

The school provides many opportunities that support Māori students to succeed as Māori. The principal has given increased impetus to strengthening the school’s Māori dimension. He has been guided by an active whānau support group. Māori wairua is an integral part of the school’s religious education programme. Two kaiarahi, supported by teachers, provide a te reo Māori programme in all classes. Many students enjoy participation in kapa haka at school celebrations and special events. The recent establishment of a leader of taha Māori reflects the school’s commitment to further developing its Māori dimension across the curriculum.

An important next step for the school is to further extend and embed these initiatives including:

  • developing clear learning expectations for the te reo Māori programme that supports students to build on previous learning
  • further developing partnerships with local iwi and the wider Māori community
  • establishing and implementing ongoing self review to support sustainability of initiatives.

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 because:

  • the knowledgeable principal, supported by school leaders is providing effective professional leadership for the school and has a clear vision for ongoing school improvement
  • trustees, led by an experienced chairperson, are strongly focussed on enhancing student achievement and supporting the school’s special character
  • teachers are committed to the school, are responsive to professional learning and are supportive of school leadership
  • there are high levels of community and parish support for the school.

ERO, the board and school leaders agree that there is a need to implement a more focussed and aligned approach to strategic planning and self review including:

  • continuing to promote and support leadership at all levels within the school
  • the development of agreed expectations for effective teaching practice at the school
  • documenting clear learning expectations in each of the subject areas.

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 11 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.

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

11 November 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 51%

Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Other Asian

Other European

South East Asian










Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

11 November 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2010

October 2007

September 2004