St Mary's College (Ponsonby) - 02/02/2011

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

The principal, staff and board of trustees of St Mary’s College have maintained a strong focus on providing girls from Year 7 to 13 with a high quality education in a caring and supportive environment. The school’s special character, founded in the Roman Catholic faith and the Mercy values of compassion and social justice, is clearly reflected in school practices. Students benefit from teachers’ expertise and commitment and their high expectations for achievement and success. Students have a strong sense of pride in their school. They appreciate the high levels of support given by staff and enjoy the extensive range of learning, leadership and cocurricular opportunities provided for them.

High levels of student achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) continue to be evident for students in Years 11 to 13. Achievement in NCEA for all groups of students, including Maōri and Pacific students, significantly exceeds national and decile averages. The percentage of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements at all levels of NCEA significantly exceeds national levels, and the numbers of students who attain these endorsements has increased considerably from year to year. A very high percentage of students, including Māori and Pacific, are leaving with university entrance and Level 3 NCEA.

Classroom teaching is purposeful and focused. Students enjoy positive relationships with teachers and with their peers. Since the 2007 ERO review, teacher professional learning and development has focused on developing students’ higher order thinking skills to further increase their engagement in learning and to further improve their levels of achievement. At the faculty level, teachers have focused on developing students’ information literacy skills, particularly in Years 7 to 10. The next step now is for school managers to coordinate a school-wide approach to professional learning that covers assessment processes and supports the use of strategies that involve students more actively in learning how to learn.

High quality, consistent leadership is a key factor in the school’s success, together with cohesive and collaborative management practices. The board, principal and senior managers have consulted with the community, staff and students to develop the St Mary’s College Curriculum, which aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum. The board, senior leadership team and staff are focused on ensuring that the St Mary’s College curriculum is effective in supporting student learning: engagement, progress and achievement.

The board’s long-term planning is focused on student success, supported by strong curriculum and assessment practices and by further engaging families in an effective home-school partnership. The board’s strategic goals provide a useful framework for self review of the governance and management of the school.

Future Action

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

2. St Mary's College’s Curriculum

How effectively does the curriculum of St Mary's College promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

School context and self review

The special character of St Mary’s College pervades all aspects of school life. The school’s vision is that students will be empowered by an excellent education and Mercy values so that they are able to play a positive role in society.

St Mary’s College is highly regarded by its community. The school has had significant roll growth over the past seven years. Students are achieving at levels that are similar to those of students in higher decile schools and higher than average levels of students in the same decile.

The principal, staff and trustees are strongly focused on students attaining high levels of achievement. Senior managers have ensured that good assessment practices for NCEA are established. Targets have been set to increase the number of merit and excellence grades and the number of NCEA certificate endorsements. Further, specific achievement targets have been set to increase the number of scholarships gained by students.

Achievement information in Years 7 to 10 indicates that students make good progress in literacy and numeracy over this four year period. Teachers know students well and monitor their engagement, achievement and progress closely. Significant progress is being made in meeting requirements for reporting against the National Standards for students in Years 7 and 8.

Areas of strength

Strong, supportive learning environment. The school provides a strong and supportive learning environment with the aim of imbuing young women with a strong sense of self esteem and confidence. The Roman Catholic beliefs, traditions, and values of the school provide a solid foundation for positive and respectful relationships. The school has a cohesive and well coordinated pastoral care network.

High levels of student achievement. High levels of achievement in NCEA are attained by students in Years 11 to 13. NCEA data show significant improvement in the school’s overall achievement levels since the 2007 ERO review, including an increase in the number of merit and excellence endorsements. Māori and Pacific student achievement in NCEA is comparable with that of other students. Achievement levels consistently exceed comparable national levels.

Strong culture of high expectations. The notable improvements attained in student progress and achievement are underpinned by a culture of very high expectations for students’ work ethic, and their participation in learning. Achievement expectations are made explicit for students. Classroom environments are settled and focused on learning, and increasing numbers of students participate in co-curricular activities. Teachers use a range of effective strategies to engage students in learning, including building respectful and affirming relationships.

Strong focus on individuals. The 2007 ERO report noted the dedication of class teachers and the guidance network, including form teachers, deans, guidance counsellors, careers and support staff, in monitoring progress and achievement of individual students. This dedication remains evident.

Teachers make good use of literacy and numeracy achievement data to identify students who need learning support or extension. Academic monitoring in the senior school helps teachers to track student progress and achievement closely and to provide the appropriate support.

Building community partnerships to improve student learning and achievement. The school has a number of effective strategies to engage parents and to support students’ success at school and their entry into tertiary education. The curriculum has been extended in response to a review of the strategic plan and feedback from parents. A partnership has been developed with a local university to establish pathways into tertiary education.

Areas for development and review

Leading and effecting changes in teaching practice. The next step for senior managers is to develop a more coordinated and planned approach to staff professional learning and development to ensure that all teachers have a good understanding of the practices most likely to facilitate student learning and achievement. Particular emphasis could be placed on promoting consistent use of formative teaching practices so that students understand how to learn. Teachers could also plan to build on students’ prior cultural knowledge and experiences, particularly for Māori and Pacific students.

Self review. Senior managers could strengthen current self-review practices by:

  • more explicitly documenting decisions made and strategies selected to achieve specified goals for improving student outcomes;
  • developing a coordinated approach to increasing teachers’ skills in using achievement data to cater for students’ learning needs; and
  • refining processes for curriculum reporting in order to produce more succinct and focused evaluation of teaching and learning practices to support student learning, engagement, progress and achievement.

3. Provision for International Students

St Mary's College is providing its international students with high quality educational opportunities. Students benefit from the strong pastoral ethos of the school and the effective systems and practices support student learning and well being. Extensive guidance about learning programmes includes a well developed programme for learning English as a second language. International students are well integrated into school life and report that they enjoy and appreciate the extensive opportunities that are provided for them.

Compliance with theCode of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Studentsand the Provision of English Language Support

St Mary's College 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.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review processes for international students are thorough.

4.Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of St Mary's College completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • board administration;
  • curriculum;
  • management of health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management;
  • financial management; and
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO looked at the school’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records. ERO sampled recent use of procedures and checked elements of the following five areas that have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment);
  • physical safety of students;
  • teacher registration;
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions; and
  • attendance.

5. Future Action

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

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region 

2 February 2011

About The School

School type

State integrated secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll

802

Number of international students

16

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 60%,

Māori 10%,

Samoan 9%,

Asian 9%,

Tongan 5%,

other 7%

Review team on site

October 2010

Date of this report

2 February 2011

Previous three ERO reports

Education Review, October 2007

Education Review, November 2007

Assurance Audit, November 1997

To the Parents and Community of St Mary's College

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on St Mary's College.

The principal, staff and board of trustees of St Mary’s College have maintained a strong focus on providing girls from Year 7 to 13 with a high quality education in a caring and supportive environment. The school’s special character, founded in the Roman Catholic faith and the Mercy values of compassion and social justice, is clearly reflected in school practices. Students benefit from teachers’ expertise and commitment and their high expectations for achievement and success. Students have a strong sense of pride in their school. They appreciate the high levels of support given by staff and enjoy the extensive range of learning, leadership and cocurricular opportunities provided for them.

High levels of student achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) continue to be evident for students in Years 11 to 13. Achievement in NCEA for all groups of students, including Maōri and Pacific students, significantly exceeds national and decile averages. The percentage of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements at all levels of NCEA significantly exceeds national levels, and the numbers of students who attain these endorsements has increased considerably from year to year. A very high percentage of students, including Māori and Pacific, are leaving with university entrance and Level 3 NCEA.

Classroom teaching is purposeful and focused. Students enjoy positive relationships with teachers and with their peers. Since the 2007 ERO review, teacher professional learning and development has focused on developing students’ higher order thinking skills to further increase their engagement in learning and to further improve their levels of achievement. At the faculty level, teachers have focused on developing students’ information literacy skills, particularly in Years 7 to 10. The next step now is for school managers to coordinate a school-wide approach to professional learning that covers assessment processes and supports the use of strategies that involve students more actively in learning how to learn.

High quality, consistent leadership is a key factor in the school’s success, together with cohesive and collaborative management practices. The board, principal and senior managers have consulted with the community, staff and students to develop the St Mary’s College Curriculum, which aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum. The board, senior leadership team and staff are focused on ensuring that the St Mary’s College curriculum is effective in supporting student learning: engagement, progress and achievement.

The board’s long-term planning is focused on student success, supported by strong curriculum and assessment practices and by further engaging families in an effective home-school partnership. The board’s strategic goals provide a useful framework for self review of the governance and management of the school.

Future Action

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

Review Coverage

This report provides an evaluation of how effectively the school’s curriculum promotes student learning - engagement, progress and achievement. ERO’s evaluation takes account of the school’s previous reporting history and is based on:

  • what is known about student achievement information, including the achievement of Māori and Pacific students;
  • decisions made to improve student achievement using assessment and selfreview information; and
  • teaching strategies and programmes implemented to give effect to the school’s curriculum.

ERO also gathers information during the review to contribute to its national reports. The national reports are published on ERO’s website.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, www.ero.govt.nz.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region