St Patrick's School (Waimate) - 13/02/2013

1 Context

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

St Patrick’s is a small Catholic school providing special character education for Years 1 to 8 students. Students’ learning benefits from small class sizes. Students told ERO they like the small class sizes because, “teachers can spend more time with us.”

There is a strong inclusion of Catholic values in teaching and learning programmes. The board, principal and teachers are committed to developing the child as a whole person. This is includes fostering their spiritual, emotional, social and academic wellbeing.

The growing percentage of Māori students attending the school has led to an increased valuing and acknowledgement of Māori culture.

A significant number of students arrive and/or leave during the school year. New students described the school as welcoming and said that they quickly made friends. Older students look out for the younger students and play well with them.

Teachers work well together to ensure that students are well supported in their learning.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of its achievement information when making decisions about how to best support students’ learning.

Findings

The school’s information shows that nearly three quarters of the students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Most students have a good understanding of how well they are achieving in literacy and mathematics. These students can talk about what they are learning and why. They can also talk about their next learning steps. Students increasingly assess aspects of their own and their peers’ work.

Teachers know their students well as learners and as people. Where teachers made best use of assessment information, they:

  • planned lessons that effectively met well the needs of individual and groups of students
  • reflected on the impact of their teaching on student achievement and progress
  • monitored carefully the progress of students who were at risk of not achieving.

The principal provides the board with regular information about how well students achieve in reading, writing and mathematics against the National Standards. The board is making greater use of this information when planning ahead, setting school targets and making resourcing decisions.

Areas for review and development

ERO found variation in how well teachers use assessment information to support their students’ learning. Teachers need to:

  • track the progress of individual students and year groups as they move through the school
  • ensure that assessment practices align well with the school’s expectations
  • continue to build their confidence in making well-informed judgements against the National Standards
  • ensure that all students have a good understanding of their progress and achievement, and work with their teachers to identify meaningful next learning steps.

3 Curriculum

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

Students at this school benefit from a broad curriculum that is responsive to their interests.

Senior students spoke with enthusiasm about their learning. Their thoughts were summed up by a student who said, “Our teacher believes in us, sees what we could achieve and we end up achieving it. He gives us the willpower to do it.”

Findings

The principal and teachers have recently reviewed their school’s curriculum. The new curriculum is simply stated and provides a very useful guide for teachers in their work. This curriculum is well researched and reflects current best practice for assessment, planning and teaching.

Some very positives aspects of the school’s curriculum are the:

  • valuing of Māori culture, including the performing arts
  • strong visual arts programme
  • inclusion of Catholic teachings and values across the curriculum
  • effective integration of reading and writing into the inquiry learning topics
  • very good use of information and communication technologies (ICT) as a teaching and learning tool.

Teachers are very reflective about their teaching.

Areas for review and development

The next steps for teachers are to:

  • ensure regular te reo Māori instruction
  • explore further ways that ICT can be used for individualised learning
  • consistently implement the school’s new curriculum
  • systematically review how well curriculum expectations are in place.

The board and teachers need to review the current learning environment to ensure that it reflects what they want for their children.

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

Teachers have worked hard to build Māori students sense of pride in being Māori. There is a much stronger valuing and visibility of Māori culture. Teachers have successfully turned around the attitudes and behaviours of some students who have transferred from other schools. Over time these students have developed good friendships, improved their learning, and made positive contributions to the school. Some have become school leaders.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Overall the school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. However, there are some risk factors, such as the ongoing changes in staff. Most staff are temporary appointments, including the principal. The recent appointment of a permanent teacher will support continuity.

Findings

The school is managed and led by an able principal. He involves teachers in decision making and keeps the board well informed about school programmes.

The board is well informed about student achievement. Increasingly, they see this as their main priority. Trustees and the principal have set useful targets to lift the achievement of senior students in writing and mathematics.

The three year and annual plans clearly identify the school’s priorities. The Catholic special character plan is a very good example of effective annual planning and review. Trustees increasingly recognise the importance of having good information on which to base their decisions.

Areas for review and development

Some governance and management practices need to be strengthened. These include:

  • a more rigorous process for appraisal
  • better recording of board decisions, intended actions and when these have been addressed.

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.

During the course of the review, ERO found that not all appraisal requirements were met. Teachers had not been formally observed and the teaching component of the principal’s appraisal has not been appraised.

To improve practices, the board of trustees should:

  • comply with Ministry of Education requirements for the appraisal of the principal and teachers.

[s77CState Sector Act 1988 & National Administration Guideline 3 – 1993 National Education Guidelines]

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

13 February 2013

About the School

Location

Waimate

Ministry of Education profile number

3539

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

31

Gender composition

Boys: 16 Girls: 15

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other

20

6

5

Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

13 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2009

June 2006February 2003