St Mary's School (Blenheim) - 12/06/2018

School Context

St Mary’s School (Blenheim) is a Years 1 to 8 integrated Catholic school which provides education for 152 students.

The school’s vision is for the children to be part of a vibrant and connected Catholic community where they can confidently share their gifts and demonstrate the school values. The vision is underpinned by the school’s values, the New Zealand curriculum and key competencies.

The school’s expectations of valued outcomes for students include:

  • a strengthened understanding of the St Mary’s Catholic character

  • an inclusive and responsive curriculum with quality teaching practices.

The school states that the current key aims, goals and targets to improve students outcomes are to:

  • increase the number of students achieving at or above expected levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • strengthen approaches which cater for the learning needs of Māori students

  • develop a curriculum which provides for authentic learning experiences.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • outcomes related to children’s wellbeing

  • achievement in relation to school targets.

The school is part of the Piritahi Kāhui Ako || Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is making progress in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all of its students.

In reading, most children have achieved at the expected levels since the time of the last ERO review. However, there has been some disparity for Māori and Pacific students during this time.

There has been a schoolwide need for improvement in achievement for writing. Disparity is evident for Māori students, Pacific students and boys at different points throughout the last three years. There have been some recent improvements in Māori students’ writing outcomes and some gradual improvements in Pacific students’ writing achievement over time.

Significant numbers of identified children are not achieving at the expected level in mathematics. However there have been significant recent improvements in Pacific children’s achievement in this learning area.

Students with additional learning needs are supported to make progress. The school has high expectations that every student will achieve success.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is improving its effectiveness in accelerating the progress of some students in reading, writing and mathematics.

School information over the last two years shows:

  • no significant progress in accelerating the progress and achievement of identified Māori and Pacific students in reading and mathematics

  • some shifts in accelerating the progress and achievement of Māori and Pacific students in writing

  • some shifts in accelerating the overall progress and achievement of students with identified learning needs.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school is working towards embedding practices which effectively enable the achievement of equity and excellence.

Students participate and learn in a caring and collaborative learning environment. Effective teaching strategies are used as part of the responsive curriculum to connect with students’ lives. Positive relationships contribute to productive learning. Student feedback on learning and wellbeing is sought and valued. Student agency is well developed and leadership capability is strengthened through a culture of shared responsibility.

The special character of the school is central to a responsive curriculum that supports and promotes student learning by:

  • connecting to students’ lives

  • incorporating bicultural practices through the school

  • promoting the multicultural nature of the school

  • delivering a culturally responsive curriculum.

Strong professional leadership throughout the school and well managed change management processes are having a positive effect. A distributed leadership model and a collaborative teaching culture effectively build teacher capability to ensure an inclusive teaching and learning environment.

The school leadership has built relational trust and effective collaboration throughout the school community. School leaders promote targeted professional learning and development opportunities to benefit children’s learning.

Parents, whānau and the community are welcomed and involved in the life of the school as respected and valued partners in students’ learning. The school is committed to working together with parents, children and staff to achieve meaningful learning connections.

The board actively serves and represents the school and community in its stewardship role. Its resourcing priorities are supporting practices that promote equity and excellence.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

School leaders and ERO agree about the following key areas for ongoing development and improvement to achieve equity and excellence.

The school needs to increase its knowledge and understanding of accelerating student progress. This includes better monitoring, measuring and analysing of data about students’ progress, and ensuring the sufficiency of progress is known for all students.

It is timely for school leaders to further develop the use of robust internal evaluation practices and processes to determine what works and what is needed to sustain ongoing improvement for the achievement of equity and excellence.

The current appraisal system needs to be strengthened so that it contributes more effectively to continuing teacher improvement. Leaders need to ensure consistency in approach throughout the school so that appraisal, inquiry processes and professional learning all align with the school’s strategic goals.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • finance

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • a broad curriculum that supports and promotes student success

  • highly valued school and community relationships

  • a well-considered approach to change management practices and processes that are driving positive improvements within the school

  • the relational trust and effective collaboration that the leadership has built at every level of the school.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • strengthening the appraisal process within the school

  • increasing the understanding and knowledge of accelerated progress of targeted groups of students.

  • further developing internal evaluation practices and processes.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

12 June 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 46% : Boys 54%

Ethnic composition

Māori 23%

Pākehā 38%

Pacific 12%

Filipino 13%

Other Asian 5%

Other Ethnicities 9%

Review team on site

April 2018

Date of this report

12 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2014

Education Review August 2011