St Patrick's School (Invercargill) - 17/10/2018

School Context

St Patrick’s School (Invercargill) is a Years 1-6 Catholic school with a roll of 293 children.

The school is guided by the Dominican values of pono / honesty, aroha / caring and mana / being the best you can be. The school’s vision is to participate in learning-centred partnerships with whānau and the parish community. The school’s valued outcomes are for students to be confident, capable and compassionate, and have a passion for learning.

The strategic goals are clearly aligned to the school’s vision and values. These articulate the shared understanding that students will learn with enthusiasm, grow in knowledge, develop their abilities and desire to serve God. This is expressed through the curriculum by being ‘Called to Shine’.

To achieve these outcomes the school has identified the following strategic goals:

  • to further enhance the special character relationships between the school, parish and the wider Catholic community
  • to strengthen culturally responsive understandings and practices across the whole school community
  • to improve school-wide teaching of writing
  • to enable all children to be the best they can be, by increasing the engagement, progress and achievement of all students in relation to school expectations.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • those related to the special Catholic character of the school
  • student wellbeing
  • the school’s identified valued outcomes
  • the progress and achievement of children for whom English is a second language.

Since the ERO review in 2014, there have been changes within the school’s leadership team and the board of trustees.

Evaluation Findings

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 very effective in supporting students to achieve the school’s valued outcomes. The school is very effectively moving towards achieving equitable outcomes for all of its students.

Over the last three years the majority of students have achieved at or above the school’s expectations for reading, writing and mathematics. All of these learning areas show a positive trend of achievement over the last three years.

Over the last three years, school wide achievement in reading, writing and mathematics has improved. Current information shows that in Years 3-6, these learning areas show an upward trend of achievement over this time.

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

Targeted responses to accelerate students’ progress have been highly effective in reducing in-school disparity between groups of learners.

Māori student achievement levels have been slightly lower in all three areas. However, the most recent school information shows that the school is significantly reducing disparity for Māori students in writing and mathematics. There is no disparity for Māori students in reading. There are equitable and excellent outcomes for Pacific students.

Overall, current school achievement information shows that there are good levels of accelerated progress in aspects of reading, writing and mathematics for students. The school can also show that it has accelerated rates of progress and achievement levels in oral language.

The school recognises the need to increase the numbers of students working at expected levels in writing and mathematics. To achieve this the school is implementing the long-term strategies of:

  • intentionally engaging parents/whānau as partners in learning
  • building culturally responsive teaching practices
  • supporting students to accelerate their learning with a range of personalised and effective targeted programmes.

Students’ progress and achievement is very closely monitored, and individual students are provided with support programmes that best suit their needs. These plans are strengths-based and designed to accelerate progress and remove barriers to learning.

Children identified with additional learning or social needs are very well supported through a range of specific individualised responses. 

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 has a number of processes and practices that are highly effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence.

The school community is characterised by respect, high relational trust and shared Catholic faith and values. The mana of students and their connection to the Catholic faith is central to trustees’ and leaders’ decision making. The culture of care is well supported by teachers’ collaboration and collective responsibility.

Ongoing innovation in curriculum development and culturally responsive teacher practice align with the school’s strategic direction. This development is the school’s response to raising rates of progress and achievement for students who need tailored support to accelerate their learning, and to providing quality education in a Catholic environment for all students. The school has a culture of ongoing reflection and review that supports continuous improvement.

Trustees and leaders have made well-considered changes to the structure and organisation of the curriculum. These changes enable leaders and teachers to better support the active engagement of whānau in home-school learning partnerships. These partnerships focus on promoting progress and achievement for students in Years 1-3. Teachers and whānau meet regularly, and work together on the next steps in the child’s learning journey. These next steps complement and support what teachers are doing in the classroom.

Teachers in these junior years provide a curriculum rich in oral language opportunities. There is a clear focus on supporting students to see themselves as successful learners. This approach establishes a strong sense of belonging for students and whānau transitioning from early childhood to the school community.

School leaders and trustees are strongly committed to achieving the school’s vision and valued outcomes. This is evident through:

  • a clear alignment between the strategic priorities, actions and positive outcomes for students
  • promoting a distributed leadership model that sustains the gains made in building professional capability, and supports ongoing improvement in teaching and learning
  • the provision of a coherent, integrated curriculum that meets individual students’ social, cultural, spiritual and academic needs
  • a well-considered focus on achieving equity and valued outcomes through building whanaungatanga.

St Patrick’s School is strongly focused on continuous improvement. Teachers and leaders demonstrate adaptive expertise to better meet the needs of students. They critically apply new knowledge to problems to develop useful approaches and solutions. School-based assessment information shows that these approaches are being increasingly effective in enhancing children’s learning, engagement and sense of belonging. The place of Māori and Pacific culture, identity and language is strongly evident within the school. 

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

ERO and the school agree that trustees, leaders and teachers should consider:

  • using the learning information already in the school to know more about and report on the sufficiency of progress for all students, especially those students receiving additional support
  • strengthening capability and capacity in evaluation. 

These developments will enable leaders and teachers to clearly identify the teaching practices that are most effective.

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:

  • clear direction setting and a culture of trust set by the board and the principal that enable innovation to lift achievement
  • a responsive, well-integrated curriculum that is effectively supporting the engagement of children in their learning
  • a school-wide focus on equity and excellence
  • effective school-wide processes and practices that create a nurturing, responsive and inclusive learning environment for all students.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening capacity to use evaluation that includes inquiry into the impact of innovations in teaching practices designed to improve outcomes for students.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard
Director Review & Improvement Services Southern 

17 October 2018

About the school 

Location

Invercargill

Ministry of Education profile number

4020

School type

Contributing primary (Years 1-6)

School roll

293

Gender composition

Boys:  54%

Girls:  46%

Ethnic composition

Māori      33%

Pākehā   49 %

Pacific    10%

Asian        8%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

17 October 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review:  October 2014

Education Review:  October 2009