St Patrick's School (Waimate) - 26/05/2016

1 Context

St Patrick's School is a small, Catholic integrated school providing education for children in Years 1 to 8. Children enrolled in the school come from diverse backgrounds.

The school has recently refreshed and remodelled classrooms to better support modern teaching and learning practices. It is part of a Ministry of Education professional development initiative aimed at accelerating learning in mathematics (ALiM).

The school has had a good ERO reporting history. There is a new principal and chairperson of the board of trustees since the last ERO report in 2013.

2 Equity and excellence

The school's vision is to develop the whole child, living as a disciple of Christ, and to create a community of excellence. The school aims to inspire children to become informed and ethical leaders who possess a lasting love of learning and a lifelong commitment to Catholic values and service. Children are supported to become confident, creative and caring.

Most children are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. A focus on teaching and learning in mathematics resulted in improvement in student achievement in 2015.

The school has made some progress in addressing the areas for development identified in the 2013 ERO report. It has made improvements to the learning environment through the refurbishment of two classrooms and developed teachers' confidence in making judgements about children's achievement in writing.

The school acknowledges that changes in leadership, governance and staffing may have hindered progress in other areas. These remain as areas for development and are identified in this report.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The comments in this section relate to all children who need their progress accelerated, including Māori learners and those from other backgrounds.

The school does not have an effective system for showing children's rates of progress in their learning. As a result it is currently not well placed to show how well strategies and programmes have worked to accelerate learning. In order to be assured that children are making accelerated progress, the board, principal and teachers need to:

  • develop shared understandings of what accelerated progress looks like in reading, writing and mathematics
  • make better use of achievement information to identify specific learning needs of children
  • plan specific strategies to meet the needs of individual learners
  • evaluate the effectiveness of teaching practice and initiatives to identify what has the greatest impact on accelerating children's progress
  • develop useful systems to track the progress of children to ensure they are making and maintaining expected rates of progress.

Teachers make some use of assessment information at the classroom level to identify the achievement levels of children. The principal acknowledges they are in the very early stages of using this information to identify the specific learning needs of children. This is a focus of professional learning and reflection in 2016.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum, processes and practices need further development in order to more effectively enact the school's vision, values, goals and priorities.

The board and ERO agree there needs to be stronger alignment between strategic planning, curriculum planning, professional development, appraisal, and teaching and learning. Stronger alignment will lead to a more focused and coherent approach to improving outcomes for children.

The Catholic character and values of the school are highly evident. Children enjoy a range of opportunities within the school and the local parish to develop and demonstrate the school's values. This is particularly evident in the caring relationships observed between children and adults and amongst children.

Children are actively encouraged to take responsibility for aspects of their learning, achievement and progress. They, with their teachers and parents, set useful learning goals. Teachers should continue to share children's assessment information with them to extend their understanding of how well they are achieving and progressing against the National Standards. This will help children to evaluate their own learning and identify their next learning steps.

Māori children's language, culture and identity are valued. Te reo Māori is used regularly as part of religious education through karakia and waiata, and taught in classes. The school has established relationships with members of the local runaka and works with them to provide opportunities for children to learn about and experience aspects of tikanga Māori. Teachers are developing their knowledge and ability to respond to the language, culture and identity of the large number of other children who come from diverse backgrounds.

There are explicit guidelines for teaching and learning which are strongly aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum and reflect the Catholic character of the school. The principal acknowledges that, together with teachers, she needs to regularly ensure that the agreed expectations for teaching are being implemented in the classroom. The guidelines describe expectations for modern teaching and learning. Given the school's recent remodelling of classrooms and focus on child-centred learning, the principal with teachers needs to regularly revisit the guidelines to ensure that teaching continues to be aligned with expectations.

The principal is actively building her knowledge of her role and responsibilities in relation to being the professional leader of the school. She is raising expectations for how teachers should inquire into their own teaching. She has also strengthened aspects of the school's performance-management process. She has identified key priorities to further develop teacher capability to respond to learners' needs by:

  • encouraging greater student involvement in their learning
  • engaging parents and whānau more in their children's learning.

The principal also needs to:

  • ensure her priorities for improving teaching and learning are explicit in the school's strategic goals
  • better analyse achievement information to show rates of progress, establish what works, and know which children benefit
  • use teachers' evaluation of their own teaching to be able to explain the reason for gains in student progress and achievement across the school and how gains can be sustained
  • ensure teachers' appraisal goals are linked to the school's strategic goals and student achievement targets.

Trustees have set targets to raise achievement and ensure all children make expected progress. These targets need to include a greater focus on accelerated progress for children at risk of not achieving National Standards.

Trustees are building their capability to scrutinise student achievement information to identify what they can do to help children learn. They acknowledge that the information they receive needs to provide more evaluative detail about what is having the greatest impact on children's learning and why. This level of information is likely to help the trustees strengthen decision-making, prioritise allocation of resources and ensure equity for all children.

The board needs to ensure the principal's appraisal clearly reflects the school's strategic goals and achievement targets and provides evidence-based evaluative feedback on the principal's performance.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • have not yet developed approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • have not yet ensured the school is well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The school's key challenge is to ensure a coherent and systematic approach to raising achievement and accelerating the progress of those children who are at risk of not achieving. The board and principal need to take a planned approach to addressing the areas for improvement identified in this report.

Action

The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal-evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, ERO exemplars of good practice and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop a Raising Achievement Plan that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

As part of this review, ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement Plan and the progress the school makes.

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

6 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 the following:

  • Board administration.
  • Curriculum.
  • Management of health, safety and welfare.
  • Personnel management.
  • 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.
  • Processes for appointing staff.
  • Stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.
  • Attendance.
  • Compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendations

In order to successfully address the areas for development identified in this report, ERO recommends that the principal and board work with the New Zealand School Trustees Association to build their capability and capacity in their governance and leadership roles. Given the focus on improved use of student achievement data, they would also benefit from additional support from the Ministry of Education.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

26 May 2016

About the school

Location

Waimate

Ministry of Education profile number

3539

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

35

Gender composition

Male: 19 Female: 16

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Filipino

Chinese

5

20

8

2

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

26 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2013

July 2009

June 2006