St Mary's College (Wellington) - 15/08/2017

Findings

The positive school climate, shared Catholic ethos and genuine celebration of cultural diversity means that students know that their identity and values are recognised and respected. The curriculum is inclusive. Consistently high levels of achievement at all levels in NCEA are evident. Enhancing internal evaluation is a key area for development.

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

1 Context

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

St Mary’s College is a state integrated Catholic secondary school, located in central Wellington. At the time of the ERO review the roll was 635 girls, with 22% identifying as Pacific and 16% as Māori. Students come from a large number of contributing schools, over a wide geographical area.

The school’s special character is founded on the Gospel values and charism of the Sisters of Mercy. The convent shares the same site and the school is proud of the history and tradition it derives from the Order.

Trustees and leaders have responded positively to areas for development identified in the June 2014 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

Leaders and teachers are increasingly effective in using achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

An appropriate range of assessment tools and transition information from contributing schools is well used to gather baseline data on entry. Students in need of additional support are clearly identified and information, including possible strategies and approaches, is shared with form (Ako) and class teachers and heads of department. Each student’s progress is tracked and monitored throughout their time in the school.

The recent review of the junior curriculum and assessment practices has led to all learning areas taking a common approach to using curriculum level assessment. This is enabling more effective tracking and evaluation of the rate of progress of individuals, groups and cohorts. 

National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results for 2016, show very high levels of achievement in Levels 1 to 3. Results for all groups are comparable to schools of similar type and above that of schools nationally. Māori and Pacific students achieve at similar levels to their peers in the school. Improving the proportion of merit and excellence certificate endorsements in NCEA is an ongoing focus.

The online portal and other e-technology enable parents to have immediate access to their child’s records of progress and achievement. Regular communication with families is supporting a growing partnership with parents.

3 Curriculum

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

The school's curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning.

The school’s philosophy, values and Catholic ethos are the basis for all curriculum planning and delivery. Students have extensive opportunities to participate and celebrate success in a range of special character, cultural, artistic, sporting and leadership activities. They benefit from positive, affirming relationships with their teachers.

The curriculum is inclusive. Students’ culture, language and identity are valued, celebrated and integrated into a culturally responsive approach to teaching and learning. There is a growing recognition of the importance of student voice in decisions linked to the curriculum and their learning.

Review of curriculum, including a major redefinition of the junior curriculum in 2015 - 16 to more closely align with theNew Zealand Curriculum, is ongoing. The senior school curriculum is under review in 2017.

A new appraisal system was introduced in 2014. Leaders recognise it is timely to review and refine the system to more effectively enhance professional growth and accountability.

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

The school’s strong commitment to increasing success for Māori students is clearly evident in daily practices, routines and interactions. Māori language, values and tikanga are evident in school practices. Leaders and trustees have a strategic commitment to enhancing Māori student achievement. Key supporting practices include:

  • incorporating and embedding in the curriculum, aspects of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori
  • recognising and celebrating Māori student achievement
  • providing positive role models to encourage high aspirations
  • supporting and valuing the successful kapa haka group
  • promoting the holistic wellbeing of students
  • building culturally responsive teaching practices.

Growing stronger links with whānau and iwi is an important development goal for the school.

How well does the school promote success for Pacific students?

The positive school climate, shared Catholic ethos and genuine celebration of cultural diversity means that Pacific students know that their identity and values are recognised and respected. They are well engaged in the life of the school, participating successfully in all activities. Retention and achievement through to Year 13 is high. The Samoan language has been recently introduced as a full subject. The school engages Pacific parents and aiga through a group of Pasifika parents who meet together regularly with teachers at the college to support their students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve performance.

Trustees provide sound governance. They are well informed, ask appropriate questions and make evidence-based resourcing decisions. Trustees work collaboratively with the board of proprietors. There is a clear, shared understanding of the school’s special character, beliefs and strategic direction.

Leaders are reflective. The principal has a well-articulated vision for ongoing development and innovation. There is a deliberate approach to growing leadership school wide, and promoting staff development using a range of internal expertise and external support.

A positive tone and learning culture is evident throughout the school. Relationships are respectful and reciprocal. Students and staff appreciate the strong family atmosphere and shared values. Student wellbeing is supported by a well-considered pastoral and guidance network.

The school has strong relationships with the Catholic Church, parents, whānau and the wider community. They are starting to develop closer links with other Catholic schools in Wellington in a Community of Learning| Kāhui Ako.

School leaders and trustees have recognised the need to continue to further develop, refine and embed new approaches to teaching and learning. Effective review should enable leaders to evaluate the impact of these programmes and initiatives on outcomes for learners.

A well-established culture of discussion and reflection is demonstrated at all levels of the school. A next step is to develop internal evaluation that is data-based and uses agreed indicators of success. This should enable leaders to evaluate the impact of initiatives, programmes and interventions on student progress and achievement and better inform planning for continuous improvement.

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

At the time of this review there were four international students attending the school, including one exchange student. 

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. Students have access to very good quality learning experiences, enjoy participation in school activities and are well supported by effective pastoral care systems. Student wellbeing, academic progress and achievement are appropriately monitored and reported. The international coordinator is working to develop a complaints process that meets the requirements of the Code.

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

The positive school climate, shared Catholic ethos and genuine celebration of cultural diversity means that students know that their identity and values are recognised and respected. The curriculum is inclusive. Consistently high levels of achievement at all levels in NCEA are evident. Enhancing internal evaluation is a key area for development.

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

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

15 August 2017

About the School 

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

286

School type

Integrated Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

635

Number of international students

4

Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Pacific
Asian
Other ethnic groups

16%
45% 
22%
14%
3%

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

15 August 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2014
July 2011
August 2008