St Mary's School (Avondale) - 08/10/2014

Findings

The school works well with families to support students to reach their potential. Respectful relationships, underpinned by pride in the school’s values, provide students with an environment where they feel open to learning. Students, including Māori and Pacific students, achieve well. Trustees and staff continue to support students to be confident leaders in their learning.

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 School (Avondale) is a state integrated Catholic school for students from Years 1 to 8. The school provides education with an emphasis on Catholic faith and values for students from a wide area of West Auckland. The school embraces and celebrates its diverse, multicultural community. Students are predominantly of Pacific heritage with 53 percent identifying as Samoan and 23 percent as Tongan. Several of the staff and board members have historical links to the St Mary’s community.

St Mary’s School mission statement is devoted to children’s intellectual, spiritual, social and human development. It values the growth and development of all people associated with the school. The Board of Trustees, senior leaders and teachers are committed to working collaboratively to enable students to achieve to their full potential. They have consulted with the school community to implement a new school charter and review the school vision and values.

The school vision of 'Goodness and wisdom through a Christ-centred life' is underpinned by values of respect, excellence, creativity, integrity and justice. Many of the students, staff and parents note the school’s inclusive, family atmosphere and commitment to Catholic character and values as unique strengths.

Over the past year the board has appointed a new principal and deputy principal from amongst long serving staff. A number of new teachers have also been appointed. Many of the staff, students and parents particularly appreciate the open communication that is modelled by school leaders and the board.

2 Learning

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

The school has made good progress to support students and teachers to make better use of student achievement information.

Senior leaders and teachers have worked with external advisors to support implementation of the National Standards. Teachers use an appropriate range of internal observations and assessments to inform their overall teacher judgements. They have implemented good processes to moderate their student assessments.

Senior leaders provide the board of trustees with appropriate achievement information to inform their resourcing and planning decisions. Trustees feel confident to seek further information from senior leaders to clarify their understanding and to assure them of how well particular groups of students are progressing and achieving. The board and senior leaders make good use of achievement information to set school targets.

The school has clear evidence of how well students are achieving over time and patterns and trends information for groups of students. Most students achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and maths. They achieve well in comparison to the region and nationally. Students make good progress over time. Achievement for Māori and Pacific students reflects this overall positive picture.

There is a focus on learning throughout classrooms and students are courteous and engaged. They talk knowledgeably about their progress and achievement. Students refer to their work in the classroom environment to reflect on their learning journey. Students spoken to were able to talk about the purpose of their learning, and many could identify ways they know that they have met their learning goals.

Students at risk of not achieving National Standards are identified and receive targeted learning support. Their progress is regularly tracked and support programmes and initiatives are monitored to ensure that they are meeting student’s learning goals and needs.

Reporting to parents has been reviewed in consultation with parents. Reporting processes now provide clearer information about student progress and achievement in National Standards and other curriculum areas.

Senior leaders agree that key next steps include:

  • stating in written reports how parents could further support their children’s learning
  • continuing to engage parents and students in using student achievement information to guide learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is effective in promoting student learning and engagement. Students learn in a calm environment that reflects the school’s special character. Adults and students share respectful relationships which contribute to a strong sense of inclusiveness. The rich, multicultural context of the school is evident throughout the curriculum. Students have many opportunities to learn about each other’s cultures and to connect their prior knowledge to their learning.

School leaders and teachers have made good progress to support teaching and learning practices that strengthen student ownership of learning. Teachers have accessed professional learning and development that has improved their understanding and use of effective student-centred teaching strategies.

Senior leaders agree that key next steps in curriculum development include:

  • collaboratively developing guidelines to support teachers to effectively deliver an even broader curriculum
  • reviewing and aligning the school curriculum to the new school charter, National Standards and the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • teachers accessing and implementing professional learning to further empower students to be self-directed, independent learners
  • the board continuing to upgrade and resource the school environment to support the above developments.

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

There are nine Māori students attending St Mary’s School. Māori students are achieving well in relation to the National Standards. They take leadership roles and participate fully in the cultural life of the school.

The school acknowledges Māori as tangata whenua of bicultural New Zealand. A tutor is employed to support teachers and students to access te ao Māori. Students have an opportunity to participate in events where they can learn about tikanga Māori and senior students study te reo Māori as an additional language. The religious education programme also supports students to understand aspects of Māori culture. Actions such as these help ensure that the language, culture and identity of Māori students is valued.

Māori whānau views and aspirations have been sought through formal consultation and informal discussion. Māori are well represented on the board of trustees. The board agrees that the next steps include continuing to build on these developments through ongoing consultation with whānau and setting appropriate action plans.

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 reflects the multicultural community of the school, and includes a mix of experienced and newly appointed members. Trustees are aware of their governance role and work together to induct new members and to build shared understanding. They make effective use of their strengths and skills, and have implemented a planned approach to school improvement. They are well informed about student progress and achievement.

The new principal provides good professional leadership. She leads by example and demonstrates a strong sense of support for others. The leadership team work collaboratively together to support the principal and staff and ongoing school improvement.

There has been a significant change in the past year as a result of new opportunities for shared decision-making and a strengthening partnership with the parish. Under the collaborative leadership of the chairperson and principal the school direction is firmly focused on positive student outcomes.

The charter and vision have been reviewed in collaboration with parents, staff and the parish. There is a strong sense of ownership in the charter and a commitment to valuing reciprocal relationships and transparent communication. Board members have accessed professional advice to support them in their roles as employers and trustees.

ERO, school leaders and trustees agree that a next key area for development is to continue to learn about and implement more robust and effective school self-review processes.

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 school works well with families to support students to reach their potential. Respectful relationships, underpinned by pride in the school’s values, provide students with an environment where they feel open to learning. Students, including Māori and Pacific students, achieve well. Trustees and staff continue to support students to be confident leaders in their learning.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

8 October 2014

About the School

Location

Avondale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1503

School type

State Integrated Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

196

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Samoan

Tongan

Filipino

African

Indian

Sri Lankan

5%

3%

53%

24%

8%

3%

3%

1%

Special Features

Social Worker in Schools

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

8 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2011

August 2008

June 2005