18 October 2010
To the Parents and Community of Aquinas College
These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Aquinas College.
Aquinas College is a Catholic integrated school for students in Years 7 to 13 located in Tauranga City. The school has reached its maximum roll of 750 students of whom 7% identify as Māori. A new principal took up his position at the school in Term 2, 2010, and he brings considerable experience to this role.
Senior management, staff and trustees are united in giving the highest priority to the school’s special, Christ-centred Catholic character and Touchstone Values of truth, joy, scholarship, family, prayer and service which underpin all aspects of school life. Students experience a comprehensive religious education programme and actively participate in service opportunities in keeping with Diocese and community expectations.
Respectful and caring relationships are highly evident in the school and contribute to a positive environment for learning and a strong sense of identity for teachers, students and their families. Trustees bring a wide range of experience and expertise to their roles and responsibilities, and they maintain strong links with the Catholic contributing primary schools.
Teachers and parents work together to provide a broad range of worthwhile experiences for students including, social, cultural and leadership opportunities. There is a very high student participation rate in sporting activities, and the college recently established a sporting academy. Students are well supported through effective pastoral care, learning assistance and gifted and talented programmes. The school complies with all aspects of the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.
Achievement information gathered in 2010 for students in Years 7 to 10, indicates that they achieve, on average, at considerably higher levels in reading and mathematics than national comparisons. The proportion of students completing the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1, 2 and 3 qualification in 2009 remains consistently above similar schools. The college has identified its next steps as increasing the proportion of students gaining NCEA excellence endorsed passes, and National Scholarships. School data indicates that Māori students achieve at comparable rates to non-Māori at all levels of the school and the school has taken positive steps to recognise and affirm the important place of their culture.
The previous ERO report included recommendations developed with the board related to self-review practices, the use of achievement data and aspects of teaching and learning. Good progress has been made in response to these recommendations, through considerable professional development for staff, and faculty planning. However, further work needs to be done to fully develop and effectively implement the requirements of the New Zealand Curriculum. The board, with the principal, should monitor this implementation, and continue to use external expertise and support as appropriate and relevant, together with the expertise of identified staff. In addition, the board of trustees should implement and maintain a reporting schedule for college management in order that trustees can be assured they are meeting all their legal requirements.
ERO intends to carry out another review in two years.
This report provides an evaluation of how effectively the school’s curriculum promotes student learning - engagement, progress and achievement. ERO’s evaluation takes account of the school’s previous reporting history and is based on:
- what is known about student achievement information, including the achievement of Māori and Pacific students;
- decisions made to improve student achievement using assessment and self‑review information; and
- teaching strategies and programmes implemented to give effect to the school’s curriculum.
ERO also gathers information during the review to contribute to its national reports. The national reports are published on ERO’s website.
If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, www.ero.govt.nz.
National Manager Review Services
General Information about Reviews
ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.
About ERO Reviews
ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:
- improve educational achievement in schools; and
- provide information to parents, communities and the government.
Reviews are intended to focus on student achievement and build on each school’s self review.
ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting integrates the following:
- school curriculum;
- national evaluation topics –contribute to the development of education policies and their effective implementation; and
- Board Assurance Statement, including student and staff health and safety.
ERO’s review is responsive to the school’s context. When ERO reviews a school, it takes into account the characteristics of the community from which it draws its students, its aspirations for its young people, and other relevant local factors.
ERO also builds on the school’s own self-review information. ERO is interested in how a school monitors the progress of its students and aspects of school life and culture, and how it uses this information to improve student learning.
This helps ERO to answer the major evaluation question for reviews:
How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?
Areas for Development and Review
ERO reports include areas for development and review to support on-going improvement by identifying priorities. Often the school will have identified these matters through its own self review and already plans further development in those areas.
Individual ERO school and early childhood centre reports are public information and may be copied or sent electronically. However, the Education Review Office can guarantee only the authenticity of original documents which have been obtained in hard copy directly from either the local ERO office or ERO Corporate Office in Wellington. Please consult your telephone book, or see the ERO web page,
http://www.ero.govt.nz, for ERO office addresses.