St Mary's School (Hastings) - 24/01/2014

1 Context

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

St Mary’s School is a Catholic integrated full primary school located in Mahora, Hastings. Eighteen percent of the students identify as Māori and eleven percent as Pacific. There is a growing number of Indian students and the teachers are aware of the need to further develop relationships to better support these students’ specific learning requirements.

The special character is evident. The students and teachers practise the spiritual values of respect, responsibility and reconciliation. Spacious grounds, the swimming pool and well used bike track facilitate the many opportunities for students to enjoy physical activity.

St Mary’s School has a very good ERO reporting history. This report confirms that the high quality of teaching and learning has been sustained.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is gathered and very well used at all levels of the school. The principal and senior leaders have established assessment procedures to ensure appropriate and robust information is available for the board to make strategic decisions.

The principal and senior leaders identify school wide patterns and track groups of students over time. This knowledge enables them to focus appropriate professional development for teachers and to publicly celebrate student achievement.

The information teachers gather to make their judgements is robust. They use a range of assessments and moderate judgements to ensure reliability. At the end of each unit teachers reflect on the effectiveness of the programme. The next step is for these reviews to be more specifically focused on the impact of teaching on student learning outcomes.

Teachers use data to identify specific learning gaps for students at risk of not achieving in relation to the National Standards. They then develop remedial strategies and continue to track progress. There is clear evidence they are making a positive difference to most students' learning.

Teachers share achievement information with students who are able to clearly explain their progress and next learning steps. Students’ learning intentions are clear. They own their learning and receive helpful feedback from teachers.

Parents are well informed through a range of communications. Plain language reports indicate progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards, supplemented with information about other areas of learning. Almost all parents attend the three-way conferences, where their children and class teacher discuss progress and next learning steps. The early trial of blogs to share classroom information indicates these will further inform parents about their child’s learning.

Achievement information shows that in this school:

  • most students are achieving at or above in relation to the National Standards
  • reading is a strength
  • data from 2011 to 2012 show significant improvement for all groups
  • Māori students achieve positively and make good progress.

Lifting Pacific student achievement is a priority. Students who need support with English as their second language are being supported with extra language lessons.

Children with high needs are making progress towards meeting their goals in their individual education plans and are supported by teacher aides who have appropriate professional development.

3 Curriculum

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

The well-designed school curriculum is very effective in promoting and supporting student learning. It is based on wide consultation and regular review. The curriculum has a clear rationale with the Catholic special character paramount. There are strong links to The New Zealand Curriculum principles, values and competencies.

Strong curriculum leadership has enabled consistent high quality practice. Teachers are suitably guided by an exemplar folder, a well-designed curriculum statement and collegial support in promoting effective teaching practice. Their planning is thorough and reflective.

Classroom practice is particularly effective. The firmly established routines and well-paced lessons keep students motivated and actively learning. Knowledge of students' needs and student views facilitate targeted teaching. Students are confident, respectful, engaged and interact well. They settle quickly in class and are enthusiastic, independent learners.

The family and collegial environment facilitate smooth transitions through the school. New entrant children are warmly welcomed and looked after by buddies. Positive relationships with early childhood centres and secondary schools facilitate good transitions into and out of the school.

The school caters well for Pacific students. Early intervention programmes in literacy and the reading together workshops are engaging students and parents in focusing on positive outcomes. Changes in teaching practice have resulted from student interviews. Teachers now provide clearer instructions and use classroom buddies to assist with learning.

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

St Mary’s has a clear commitment to Māori success. This is documented in the charter and actioned as a result of regular whānau and student consultation. The aspiration is for culture to come first. This is met through:

  • commitment to the special place of Māori as tangata whenua
  • providing meaningful learning contexts for Māori students to recognise cultural values
  • teachers having high expectations for learning
  • reviewing the appraisal system using Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners
  • professional facilitators to assist teachers’ understanding of Māori achieving success as Māori.

Māori students have leadership roles and are role models. Kapa haka is a popular activity among students.

Data shows effective teaching strategies are lifting Māori student achievement.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

St Mary’s School is well placed to sustain and improve its performance because it has sound systems, governance and leadership. The charter has been consultatively developed and provides a clear direction for the school. It is regularly reviewed, and reflects the special character and community aspirations.

Governance is effective because the board has a clear focus on student achievement and regularly reviews data to track progress towards meeting the school’s vision and values. There are sound systems in place and there is a clear alignment from the strategic plan throughout the curriculum delivery and programme implementation.

The school is a self-reviewing school. At all levels reflection and reviewing occurs with a strong focus on positive outcomes for students. The next step is for some processes to be more focused on outcomes for students and to use achievement data to even better effect, particularly for Pacific students.

There is strong community engagement. Parents support the school and are regularly consulted through in a range of ways to ensure all voices are heard. The school is responsive to their views.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

index-html-m2a7690f7.gifJoyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

24 January 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 55%

Male 45%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Other ethnic groups






Special Features

Integrated Catholic

Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

24 January 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2010

December 2007

January 2005