St Mary's School (Gore) - 28/11/2014

Findings

St Mary’s School provides well for its students. Students learn in an environment of care and respect. They achieve well. They easily talk about aspects of their learning. The school’s Catholic special character is well integrated into daily learning. Continuing to develop aspects of review will support the school further in its improvement focus.

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 Catholic special character has a very strong impact on student learning and the day-to-day life in the school. It can be easily seen in the way people treat one another. There is a very inclusive, family-like atmosphere and a culture of care. The school has close links with the local parish.

Trustees, staff and students are welcoming and friendly. The home-school partnership is well established. Staff create many opportunities to effectively communicate with parents, whānau, the parish and wider community.

Students from Gore and the surrounding rural district attend the school. Some travel by bus. In 2014 classrooms have been restructured to ensure students learn with their year-group peers. Since the last ERO review in 2012 a new principal has been appointed. She effectively models the school’s values. The staff work well as a team. The current professional development focus is about leadership and assessment.

The school has made very good progress since the last ERO review in 2012. Teachers have reviewed how the New Zealand Curriculum principles are enacted in the school. Learning area statements have been rewritten. There has been other significant self-review activity.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that the provision of suitable classroom spaces and ICT resources is an ongoing challenge. Improvements to both will enhance students’ learning.

2 Learning

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

This school is making good use of student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Student achievement

Most students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The majority of these students are achieving at the standards. Younger students receiving reading support are making accelerated progress.

Use of student achievement information

Students have a good understanding of their role in the learning process. Specifically they know:

  • how well they are achieving
  • what they need to do to improve their learning and achievement
  • how to assess their own performance and that of their peers.

Students’ understanding about aspects of their learning is regularly sought by teachers.

Teachers use student achievement information to appropriately:

  • identify students for learning assistance
  • report learning and achievement to parents.

Teachers are making good use of student achievement information and current professional learning and development in targeting students to make accelerated progress in writing.

The principal is:

  • analysing and reporting school-wide student achievement information to the board
  • using student achievement information to encourage teachers to inquire into aspects of their teaching practice
  • using student achievement information effectively to set specific targets in the school’s charter
  • closely monitoring and reporting to the board, the progress of these targeted students through the year.

The board is increasing its confidence in interpreting and questioning the student achievement information it is presented with.

Areas for review and development

Teachers should continue to develop their understanding and use of student achievement information, particularly with reference to the National Standards.

Leaders and teachers should specifically analyse and report on the progress students are making over time. This should include progress made by specific groups of students, year groups and all students.

3 Curriculum

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

This school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning.

Leaders and teachers have extensively reviewed the school’s curriculum values, principles and key competencies. These align well with learning and the day-to-day life of the school.

The school is guided by Sister Catherine McAuley’s words of “Good today, better tomorrow”, Mercy values and Catholic virtues. They are explicitly taught and are well understood by the students, guiding their interactions and learning.

The principal and teachers are finding increasing ways to integrate te ao Māori into the school’s curriculum. This was evident in their recent celebration of Mātariki and cultural learning activities. The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi can be seen in action at the school.

ERO observed good quality teaching in the sample of classes it observed. Teachers were:

  • using a wide variety of effective teaching approaches
  • questioning students’ understanding of their learning
  • giving students opportunities to explore and explain their ideas
  • showing respect for their students and the learning process.

Key next step

Leaders should extend curriculum reviews to comprehensively evaluate the impact of learning programmes.

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

Māori students are well engaged in their learning and the life of the school. Core concepts valued by Māori are closely aligned with the way the school’s Catholic values are enacted. School leaders are developing useful links with local Māori.

The school is in the early stages of reflecting Māori students’ language, identity and culture and developing an understanding of what success for Māori, as Māori, could look like.

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.

Trustees are capable and knowledgeable. The board is becoming increasingly effective in its governance role. Trustees have had extensive training in aspects of governance.

The principal provides strong professional leadership. She:

  • makes school decisions based on research and best practice
  • leads and supports high quality staff development
  • is reflective, improvement focused and collaborative.

The school’s performance management system provides effective appraisal for teachers. The school’s self-review practices are becoming embedded. This can be seen in the way that leaders:

  • ask useful questions
  • evaluate against indicators
  • consult and survey extensively
  • understand self review.

Key next step

The board and principal should extend their annual planning so that the desired outcomes from their key priorities are clear and can be evaluated.

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

St Mary’s School provides well for its students. Students learn in an environment of care and respect. They achieve well. They easily talk about aspects of their learning. The school’s Catholic special character is well integrated into daily learning. Continuing to develop aspects of review will support the school further in its improvement focus.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

28 November 2014

About the School

Location

Gore

Ministry of Education profile number

4018

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

190

Gender composition

Boys: 102 Girls: 88

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Other

156

19

9

6

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

28 November 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2012

June 2008

June 2005