St Mary's School (Wanganui) - 14/08/2014


St Mary’s School’s special Catholic character underpins all aspects of school life. Nearly all students including Māori and Pacific students achieve at and above National Standards. The curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

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

St Mary’s School is a state integrated Catholic primary in Whanganui. At the time of this review the school had a roll of 174 Years 1 to 8 students, of whom 33% identify as Māori.

The school’s special character underpins all aspects of school life. The curriculum has a focus on gospel values. Teachers, students and parents successfully promote the school’s ethos and culture.

Increased provision of information and communication technologies (ICT) has enhanced learning, teaching and the sharing of students' achievements with parents.

Teachers engage in professional development in science which promotes students as science thinkers in today’s contexts. A contract with Victoria University of Wellington supports students in Years 7 and 8 to study Chinese as a second language.

Ongoing involvement in the Whanganui based Te Rerenga ki Tai - Māori Dimensions Programme, provides a medium for the integration of local Māori concepts and practices into the classroom and the school's community.

Leaders, teachers and trustees have made good progress in the areas for review and development identified in the 2011 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

The school makes very good use of achievement information. Leaders and teachers ensure that all students make good progress and achieve high levels of success in literacy and mathematics.

Achievement information shows that nearly all students are at and above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori and Pacific students are achieving at high levels, similar to their peers in the school.

The school uses an appropriate range of valid, reliable and useful assessment tools to gather comprehensive achievement data. This data provides clear evidence of how well students are progressing and achieving. Information is collected and analysed frequently. Intensive tracking and monitoring of target students provides teachers with a clear basis for goal setting and planning for improvement.

Well-analysed information informs decisions for teaching programmes, and interventions to respond appropriately to the learning needs of individual students. Information is used to establish the impact of programmes and practices on student learning outcomes, and successfully indentifies next steps for future improvement.

Students identified as needing accelerated progress are well catered for through additional assistance to improve their achievement and success.

Teachers and leaders moderate assessment data to ensure the validity and reliability of their judgements about students' achievement. Regular and informative reports to the board of trustees are used well to plan strategy and review resourcing decisions focused on increasing success for all students.

Parents receive good quality written reports about their child’s achievement and progress in relation to the National Standards. Student success is celebrated through on line e-books that include a range of multimedia and rich learning narratives accessible to parents.

3 Curriculum

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

St Mary’s School curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

The inclusive philosophy and the aim to provide care and respect for all are fully enacted and promoted. Student wellbeing is actively promoted and contributes significantly to a foundation for future success.

Curriculum documentation sets a clear direction for fully implementing The New Zealand Curriculum. It provides a wide range and depth of suitable learning opportunities in authentic contexts. Teachers are provided with clear guidance for responding appropriately to the individual needs of all learners.

Promoting high levels of achievement and progress in literacy and mathematics is a clear priority and is evident in programmes and practices. Special emphasis is placed on increasing the rate of progress of priority learners who are at risk of underachievement.

Recent teacher professional development in science has had a positive impact in developing a broader range of teaching and learning approaches. A focus on developing thinking and learning to learn is evident, such as in children’s e-books. Additional programmes in languages and mathematics successfully extend higher achieving students.

Teaching practices are highly effective in promoting learners' engagement, progress and achievement. Classrooms have a calm, settled tone with students fully engaged in their learning. Instructional teaching strategies and relevant independent tasks are well matched to students' needs. Teachers actively promote thinking and encourage reflection. Strategies to make learning more accessible show a positive impact.

Students are well supported to know more about their learning. They understand the purpose of particular tasks and are able to articulate their achievement and progress. Specific and useful feedback from teachers and their peers contributes to improvement. Students are increasingly encouraged to take responsibility for their next learning steps. School leaders plan to continue to develop student ownership of their learning and ERO agrees with this direction.

Students with diverse needs and requiring additional support are well catered for through appropriate programmes and interventions. Many experience accelerated rates of progress as a result. The school advocates for children who need individual intervention and specific support from external agencies to promote improved outcomes.

Good use of ICT enhances the learning of all students. Leaders have successfully integrated ICT into all aspects of the curriculum and innovatively promote the key competencies. Students with additional needs have appropriate access to assistive technologies.

Review of teachers' effectiveness is robust and collaborative. It is focused on improving teaching and learning practices to better promote improved outcomes for all students. Ongoing critical reflection and in-depth professional discussions with colleagues inform changes to planning and teaching.

The inclusive school culture values students' individuality. The achievements and progress of all students, including those with additional needs, are acknowledged and celebrated. High needs students enjoy supportive relationships with their peers and are fully integrated into the life of the school. Teachers demonstrate a collective responsibility for the building of wellbeing and success of all children.

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

St Mary’s School effectively promotes educational success for Māori students as Māori. Māori students experience high levels of achievement and success. School leaders demonstrate a strong commitment to further developing culturally responsive practices for Māori.

Incorporating Te Rerenga ki Tai - Māori Dimensions Programme into the curriculum and daily practice assists students and teachers to better understand local tikanga Māori. It is supporting teachers to build their capacity and better respond to Māori learners' language, culture and identity.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

St Mary's School is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Professional leaders successfully ensure that the curriculum and teaching promote the best outcomes for all students.

Self review is strongly evidence based and well understood. It is promotes improvements in learners' engagement, progress and achievement.

Trustees receive well-analysed achievement information to inform decision-making focused on improving outcomes for students, and monitor progress towards goals.

School leaders articulate high expectations for student learning and achievement, and for teachers as professionals. Teachers work collaboratively with colleagues to share teaching practices that are likely to provide the best outcomes for students. Regular classroom observations and feedback support teachers' ongoing professional learning.

A rigorous appraisal process is focused on the development of teachers' practice and improved outcomes for students. It is timely to include the use of Tātaiako  Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners to support teachers in building their cultural responsiveness.

The board and principal welcome students with high needs and emphasise the importance of an inclusive culture through the school's policies, processes and resourcing.

Good communication, and strong commitment to building relationships with parents and whānau, lead to partnerships that effectively support students’ learning.

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.


St Mary’s School’s special Catholic character underpins all aspects of school life. Nearly all students including Māori and Pacific students achieve at and above National Standards. The curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

14 August 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 53%, Male 47%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Special features

Special Catholic character

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

14 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2011

September 2008

December 2005