Stella Maris Primary School - 16/11/2016

1 Context

Stella Maris Primary School is a Catholic integrated school catering for children in Years 1 to 8. The school is part of the wider parish family and enjoys close relationships with members of the church community. Since ERO's review in 2013 Pacific and Asian student numbers have grown. The Māori student roll has remained similar at eight percent. A significant number of children with special needs attend the school. The school is part of the Ministry of Education Community of Learning project that is focused on raising student achievement in North Shore Catholic Schools.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to develop according to their individual capabilities. The school's vision is reinforced through the Marian values of compassion, service, obedience, empathy, strength, loyalty, trust, courage, faith and wisdom. These values, encouraged and modelled to children on a daily basis, are underpinned by the stated school mission of a Christ-centred community.

The school's achievement information shows that the school consistently meets the government achievement target for 2017 of 85 percent of students achieving at or above the National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics by the end of Year 8. The number of students achieving the National Standard in reading and writing increases as they move through the school. School literacy data shows some disparity between boys' and girls' achievement, with girls achieving at higher levels. The data shows that this disparity is widening in reading and remains static in writing.

The cohorts of Māori and Pacific children remain too small to report overall achievement in relation to the National Standards or to identify trends over time. The school monitors the achievement of these children individually and sets specific achievement targets for each group. School data shows very good achievement outcomes for these students.

School wide systems and processes that support teachers to make robust and consistent achievement judgements in relation to the National Standards have improved. Moderation with other schools has enhanced the dependability of the school's writing achievement data.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • improved school systems for monitoring children's progress and achievement
  • implemented a variety of teaching strategies to increase students' ownership of their learning, progress and achievement
  • made better use of achievement information to inform programme planning
  • focused on teachers using achievement data as evidence for measuring the effectiveness of their practice
  • responded very well to recommendations in the 2013 ERO report. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school responds effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Leaders and teachers use analysed achievement information well to promptly identify children who are at risk of not achieving and whose progress requires acceleration. Teachers use this information to develop useful action plans that target children's progress, support ongoing monitoring, and give consideration to next learning steps. Teaching teams meet to consider strategies for better supporting individual children's learning progress. Teachers' evaluation of practices that make a positive difference to student progress is improving outcomes for these students.

The board sets specific and relevant improvement targets that enable the school to measure progress and achievement for different groups of students, including Māori and Pacific. Through these targets the board closely monitors the progress and achievement of these groups. The board could consider setting specific targets to reduce the gender differences in reading and writing data.

Senior leaders place a priority on responding to the learning needs of children with special needs. The board resources a variety of intervention programmes to support these children. An inclusive and responsive approach to diverse individual abilities ensures that children with special learning needs make progress and participate fully in appropriate learning programmes.

Teachers use teaching approaches designed to increase children's engagement in the learning effectively. New approaches to teaching mathematics in Years 3 to 8 show encouraging shifts in achievement for many students, and some accelerated progress. The leadership team is bringing a focus to ways teachers can use these strategies in Years 1 and 2 and extend these approaches to the teaching of reading and writing.

Children have an increasing understanding of their own achievement and next learning steps, and are engaged in the learning process. Teachers share assessment information with students and support them in decisions about how to improve their achievement.

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 targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum, processes and practices promote equity and excellence for children effectively.

Experienced school leaders focus on improving outcomes for children. The leadership team builds relational trust at all levels of the school. This lays a sound foundation for bringing in other initiatives that promote equity and excellence. Leadership is distributed across teaching teams to build individual and collective professional capacity. Teachers share knowledge and skills to enhance outcomes for students. Opportunities for student leadership are growing. The principal promotes leadership through service to others.

The board provides effective governance. Trustees are well informed about children's rates of progress and their overall achievement. They use this information to make appropriate resourcing decisions to improve outcomes for all students.

Programmes are well planned and good quality teaching practices are evident. Staff engage in useful professional learning and development programmes to strengthen learning focused relationships.

The school's curriculum supports children well in the five key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum; thinking, using language symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing. Good progress is being made towards developing a curriculum that is more personalised for, and self-directed by, the learner.

Some progress has been made to strengthen bicultural components of the curriculum. Māori contexts are evident in some programmes and in the environment. Leaders could consider how parents and whānau support could contribute to strengthening opportunities for Māori children to experience success as Māori and for all children to learn about New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

A coaching model is an integral part of teachers' appraisal. It is timely for leaders to consider reviewing the appraisal process to help teachers to reflect on their practice and document evidence against the Practicing Teacher Criteria. A next step is to include the cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners in the school's appraisal system to help grow teachers' knowledge and understanding of te ao Māori.

The school fosters very good relationships with parents that centre on learning partnerships with children. A variety of effective information sharing strategies keep parents well informed about their children's progress and achievement. School leaders and teachers also provide parents with the knowledge and skills to successfully support their children's learning at home.

The school is taking positive steps to build an environment where growing numbers of Pacific students are able to find a place and be confident in their cultural identity. Initiatives include the establishment by parents of a Pacific cultural group. The board is committed to implementing initiatives that enhance Pacific learners' and their parents' of involvement in the life of the school.

Internal evaluation is used well. Outcomes of school-wide curriculum review provide clear rationale for positive change. Staff and the school community are consulted widely as part of review processes and develop shared ownership of outcomes that support the school's overall improvement focus.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The school is well placed to sustain progress made in teaching practice and to make ongoing improvements that impact positively on all children's learning.

Leaders have identified relevant priorities for further development. These include:

  • strengthening bicultural processes and practices
  • continuing to develop student centred learning approaches that promote children's active engagement in learning and support them to grow as leaders of their learning
  • continuing to strengthen the evaluative quality of teacher reflections and school reviews
  • reviewing the school appraisal process.

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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 Recommendation

ERO recommends that school leaders continue to strengthen the evaluative component of self review when prioritising actions that make a difference for the learner. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

16 November 2016

About the school

Location

Silverdale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1663

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

280

Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

other ethnicities

8%

80%

6%

4%

2%

Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

16 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2013

June 2010

May 2007