St Paul's Catholic School (Ngaruawahia) - 19/04/2018

School Context

St Paul’s Catholic School (Ngāruawāhia) is an integrated state school, located in the small rural Waikato town. The school provides education for 108 students in Years 1 to 8. Forty six of these students are of Māori descent.

The school’s mission is to provide collaborative, holistic learning founded on Catholic ideals. The vision is to know, love and serve God.

The school’s charter states that we want children to be selfless, trustworthy, proud to be Catholic, adventurous, understanding, loving and striving for excellence.

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

  • reading, writing, and mathematics
  • the school’s special Catholic character.

Since the 2014 ERO review, a new principal was appointed and he started at the beginning of 2016. The deputy principal has continued as part of the senior leadership team. Other new members of the wider leadership team include new personnel responsible for early, middle and senior syndicates, director of religious studies and mathematics. 

In addition, there have been some changes to the board of trustees. An experienced trustee has been appointed to the chairperson role. Some new trustees have been elected and there is a balance of Māori and Catholic community representation. The board chairperson regularly attends the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) conferences, and he, and other trustees and the principal have attended NZSTA training.

The school belongs to the Kāhui Āko o Waikato Catholic, Community of Learning, which has had an achievement challenge endorsed by the Ministry of Education.

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 achieving excellent outcomes for most of its students. Disparity remains for a group of Māori and boys in reading and writing.

The school’s achievement information shows that over the previous three years, most students achieved at or above national expectation in reading and writing.

In 2017, proportionally, Māori students achieved at similar levels to non-Māori peers at the school in mathematics but at lower levels in reading and writing. Boys achieved at similar levels to girls in mathematics, but significantly lower levels in literacy.

A challenge for the school is to reduce the disparity of Māori and boys in reading and writing.

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

The school’s data indicates a good response for a small number of Māori, Pacific and other students whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

Leaders are developing comprehensive processes to respond more effectively to those Māori and boys who are underachieving. Detailed analysis of school-wide data in 2017 for individual students shows that there has been accelerated progress made by a small number of learners in reading, writing and mathematics. This is most notable for Māori students in reading.

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?

Leadership for learning is collaborative and increasingly effective. Leaders and teachers actively develop strong relationships with whānau and their children. They know the families well and this builds trust and mutual respect. Leaders are working collegially and model high expectations for teaching and learning that focus on promoting better learning outcomes for students. Trustees understand the importance of using the school’s extensive assessment information to support better learning outcomes for students.

The school’s curriculum is engaging and inclusive. It has strong links to The New Zealand Curriculum and Catholic character, promoting the school’s mission, vision, and values. Reading, writing and mathematics are integrated in learning activities and contexts, and learning opportunities that are religious and bicultural. Students have equitable opportunities for learning, where difference and diversity is valued and respected, and in a purposeful, calm and settled environment. Student voice is increasingly promoted in the wide range of activities and their knowledge is used to value the learning that each child brings.

Teachers are identifying opportunities for students to take responsibility for their learning.  Assessment activities based on learning progressions and indicators encourage students to understanding their level of achievement and next steps in learning. Stronger parent learning partnerships are developing through the promotion of student-led conferences about their reported learning, achievement and progress.

The school identifies priority students who are not at expected curriculum levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Individual Education Plans are developed and monitored with parents, and school initiatives effectively support students’ progress. An inclusive approach to classroom placements supports a clear sense of belonging for these students.

Catholic, Māori and Pacific identity, values and culture are strongly promoted in the school. A wide range of cultural and religious events and activities take place. Bicultural perspectives are visible in all classrooms as well as the Catholic character. The school values and practices te ao Māori so that all children understand and learn about New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

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

Targeted planning to accelerate learning and progress for students, who are not meeting expectations, needs strengthening. Leaders need to set inclusive and measurable targets for identified groups of ‘at-risk’ learners.

Internal evaluation needs to focus more consistently on outcomes for those priority learners at-risk of not achieving. Priority should be given to:

  • scrutinising current individual data and collating this information school wide to track rates of progress over time
  • collating and analysing all levels of school-wide assessment information to report on effectiveness over time
  • strengthening consistent school-wide use of the most effective learning strategies identified through the teaching as inquiry process.

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:

  • highly responsive leadership and teaching practice that encourages high levels of support from parents, including the Catholic and Māori community
  • professional leadership that is building the capability of teachers to enable learners to achieve success
  • teacher practices that are informed by a robust inquiry process
  • learner-centred curriculum that enables students to take increasing responsibility for their learning.

Next steps

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

  • alignment of achievement targets and more deliberate action planning to respond more effectively to Māori and boys in particular
  • embedding the three-way learning partnerships for students that involves parent support as well as the school
  • internal evaluation practices and processes [ERO will provide and internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.] 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

19 April 2018

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls       54%
Boys      46%

Ethnic composition

Māori                                    43%
Pākehā                                  53%
Other                                      4%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

19 April 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review June 2011
Education Review June 2008