St Joseph's Catholic School (Dargaville)

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School Context

St Joseph’s Catholic School, Dargaville is affiliated with the parish community of Catholic Sacred Heart Church. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The roll is 97 with 31 students identifying as Māori and 19 students of Pacific heritage. There has been steady roll growth across all year levels over recent years.

The school’s stated mission is ‘Flourish in faith, hope and love while realising all our gifts and talents’. This is underpinned by the school‘s charism of “Whanaungatanga – Making room for all, Wananga – Do your bit, Ako – Listen to God’s call, Manaakitanga – Have an attitude of gratitude, Tangata whenuatanga – Be the change you want to be.”

The school’s 2019 achievement targets focus on accelerating student’s progress in reading, writing and maths across all year levels.

School priorities are to improve student achievement by:

  • engaging students - with students taking ownership of their learning
  • developing effective teaching - with teachers being responsive to student learning and development needs
  • understanding the special character of the school.

These priorities include acknowledgement of Māori as tangata whenua.

The school has a stable leadership team along with three new classroom teachers. The board of trustees has remained stable over recent years.

Leaders regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing, mathematics and other learning areas
  • progress and achievement for students with diverse needs.

Whole school professional learning for 2018 to 2020 is focused on an e-Learning planning framework.

Evaluation Findings

1 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 working towards equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. The board and school leaders are proud of the significant positive shifts in student achievement in reading in the last three years. Positive shifts can also be seen in student achievement in mathematics.

While most of the students achieve at their expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics, girls continue to achieve more highly than boys.

Leaders and teachers use good assessment approaches to track, monitor and analyse student data. They should now consider increased external moderation as an additional means of continuing to validate the accuracy of school assessments.

School leaders and teachers support learners to meet the school’s valued outcomes. Most learners:

  • are building friendships and relationships, and developing the skills and attitudes that support both tuakana/teina relationships and the school’s charism
  • are respectful of themselves and others, and have a strong sense of the special character of the school.

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

The school is actively implementing strategies to support the acceleration of learning for Māori and other students who need this. Tuakana/teina relationships and culturally responsive strategies have been developed to support students in their learning.

School leaders prioritise raising achievement levels overall, and address disparities in achievement for Māori students and others in reading, writing and mathematics. They have initiated school-wide learning programmes to help address these disparities.

Learning support, interventions and programmes assist those students with additional learning needs. Leaders and teachers work collaboratively to provide individualised support for students who need this.

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?

Parent partnership, school leadership and professional capability building support the school’s progress towards the school achieving excellence and equity.

Leaders and teachers have developed strong learning partnerships with parents and whānau. Teachers work with parents to help them provide relevant learning opportunities, resources and support at home for students. Parents and whānau participate in cultural celebrations and other special occasions incorporated into school programmes to make learning more relevant and authentic for students.

School leaders have developed a culture of relational trust and collaborative support within the school community. They use a variety of communication tools to share events and planning with parents, students and whānau, and they encourage reciprocal interactions with the school community. Teachers have a strong focus on students’ holistic success. Teachers have established a nurturing environment that reflects manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, ako, and mahi tahi.

Leaders and teachers are purposeful in building their professional capability and capacity. Leaders share clear expectations of teachers, students and parents. They are building useful organisational systems to support teachers. Teachers plan collaboratively and share their growing professional knowledge to improve learning outcomes for children. They are responsive towards a bicultural curriculum, the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and other principles underlying the New Zealand Curriculum.

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

Leaders and teachers should use the school’s good foundations to provide more integrated opportunities for student learning across all aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum. More integrated approaches should provide students with increasingly meaningful learning experiences, and support them to process their learning more intrinsically.

Leaders and teachers should now introduce students to leading their own learning, by being more responsive to students’ needs and interests. Teachers could trial teaching methods that encourage students to discover their best ways of learning, so that they are able to challenge themselves and set personalised learning pathways.

Leaders acknowledge the need to continue to build teachers’ professional capability and collective capacity to support the achievement of equity and excellence. They recognise the importance of taking opportunities for continual development. Leaders should now develop ways to ensure that teachers learn collaboratively through their inquiries. They could also increase leadership opportunities for staff. A more intentional and strategic approach to planning for these outcomes would be beneficial.

School leaders could further promote robust inquiry, knowledge building and evaluation for schoolwide improvement. Increased use of external research, current best practice theory, and collaborative professional learning opportunities should help to further develop in-school evaluation and decision making-processes.

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 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of St Joseph’s Catholic School (Dargaville) performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • a collaborative community of school, whānau and parents that works together to support children and realise the school’s mission and values
  • leadership that builds relational trust and reflects the aspirations and needs of the community
  • organisational structures that support teachers to develop their professional capability.

Next steps

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

  • leaders and teachers designing and documenting a local curriculum that is responsive to students’ interests and needs
  • leaders and teachers exploring approaches to challenge and extend learning to support all students to reach their potential
  • leaders deepening teacher inquiry practices, and building leadership capacity across the school
  • leaders and teachers using evaluation to deepen understandings of effective practices that support the provision of rich, curriculum-wide outcomes for students.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

14 June 2019

About the school

Location

Dargaville

Ministry of Education profile number

1098

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

97

Gender composition

Boys 52 Girls 45

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/Pākehā
Pacific
other ethnic groups

31
39

19
8

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

March 2019

Date of this report

14 June 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

March 2016
March 2014
January 2012

Findings

Students engage purposefully in learning. They benefit from teaching practices increasingly focused on their diverse learning needs. School and community relationships are mutually supportive, and parent partnerships in their children’s learning are valued. Strengthened governance and leadership capability has led to the school now being well placed to consolidate its good practices.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

St Joseph’s Catholic School is a special character Catholic school located in Dargaville. It caters for students from Years 1 to 8. The school has had a history of early-return monitoring by ERO.

At the time of ERO’s 2012 review the school was experiencing difficulties related to governance, promoting educational success for Māori students, use of student achievement information and the quality of teaching and learning. The board of trustees was being supported by a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM). During 2012 the board resigned and the Ministry of Education (MoE) appointed the LSM as the commissioner to oversee the governance of the school. A Ministry of Education (MoE) senior advisor and student achievement practitioner (SAF) supported the school to address priorities for improvement.

ERO’s March 2014 report noted that the school was making good use of professional development provided by the MoE and SAF, and were making progress in addressing development priorities. At that time the commissioner’s appointment had been revoked, a new had been board elected and a new principal had been appointed to start at the beginning of 2014. While acknowledging improvements in several aspects of school performance, ERO was not yet assured of the school’s capacity to sustain and continue to improve its performance. The 2014 report recommended ongoing support to bring about further improvements.

Since 2014 the principal and trustees have demonstrated commitment to leading improvements to programmes and practices in collaboration with staff, students and parents. The school has continued to work with external advisors to support these improvements. It has a productive and positive school climate. Students make good progress with their learning and most achieve well in National Standards. Effective governance and leadership are evident.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO’s 2014 report and discussion with the school identified the need to:

  • place a focus on promoting educational success for Māori students as Māori
  • accelerate the progress of students not achieving, particularly in writing and mathematics
  • establish an effective appraisal process for teachers and the principal
  • ensure that effective governance practices are established and sustained.

Progress

Strategic leadership by the principal and the school’s lead teacher for Māori has driven significant ongoing development in promoting educational success for Māori students as Māori. External professional learning and Ministry of Education resources are well used to support teachers’ confidence and competence in using te reo me ōna tikanga Māori. Developments that have had a focus on improving outcomes for Māori learners are having a positive impact on all learners.

Māori students demonstrate a sense of belonging in the school and to the area they live in. They are confident in their identity and culture. They show pride in leadership opportunities, including welcoming visitors to the school.

Reciprocal partnerships with whānau have been fostered. As a result, whānau feel comfortable in contributing to the school’s provision of te ao Māori. The board and school leaders are committed to further developing communication and consultation with whānau.

The school’s student achievement information shows that most students achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students achieve at similar levels to their non-Māori peers at the school.

The school has reliable systems to gather and analyse student achievement information, and to set targets to support students who need to make accelerated progress. Reporting processes have been improved and trustees now receive clear information to guide the board’s decision making. Trustees and leaders have plans to analyse trends over time and monitor the progress of different groups of students. These actions should help the board to evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and should help the board to set more specific targets to accelerate student progress.

Improved clarity of expectations, increasingly collaborative practices, and recently developed systems are supporting teachers to make positive changes to their practice. For instance, a useful framework for appraisal is prompting teachers’ inquiry into practice and evidence-based decision making. Teachers are increasingly using achievement information to reflect on and modify teaching programmes. However, more work is needed to increase the consistency of good teaching practices through the school.

Students are responding positively to having greater understanding of the purpose of their work. They can talk more knowledgeably about what they are learning. Some good models of teaching practice are supporting students to monitor their own progress and to identify their next steps. All teachers should now provide opportunities for students to participate in planning their future learning.

The development of digital portfolios is enhancing communication with parents about their children’s learning. For increased clarity, reports to parents should more clearly indicate their children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

The board, principal and staff have worked together on the development of the school charter, strategic and annual plans. An improved framework for policies and procedures has been developed, along with processes for board assurance about the implementation of health and safety policies.

Key next steps

The principal and board should continue their efforts to promote high quality teaching practices through the school.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school’s improvement-focused response to priority areas sets a good foundation for continuing development.

Trustees are demonstrating the capability to govern effectively and to sustain ongoing review and improvement. Clear systems and useful documentation now support board processes and the induction of new board members. Trustees value external guidance and continue to participate in a range of governance training opportunities.

The principal has built positive relationships within the school, and partnerships with parents and whanau, and with the parish community. He has successfully promoted the school’s profile in the local community. The welcoming tone in the school reflects the school’s values. Students show a sense of belonging and pride in their school. The school’s bicultural development supports students’ understanding of the heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand's heritage.

Leaders and trustees are beginning to establish self review as part of governance and management practice. Strategies are being developed to review the effectiveness of the board’s governance. Informal reflections in relation to strategic goals should now be recorded to clearly show the school’s progress towards meeting these goals.

Professional development for staff during 2014 and in 2015 has had a positive impact on teaching practices. The principal recognises the need to continue to consolidate and embed these recent developments.

Key next steps

The board recognises that, while the school now has a foundation of good practices in place, it can further improve performance by:

  • extending self-review to become a more systematic part of leadership and governance practice
  • improving the documentation of some governance processes
  • continuing to use external training to further build governance capability
  • ensuring systems are maintained to promote good quality teaching practice across the school.

An effective process for principal’s appraisal was implemented during 2014. Further refinements to this process have been made in 2015. At the time of the review the revised appraisal process planned to be completed by mid-2016 had not yet commenced. The board must ensure that this process is actioned from the beginning of 2016. The board could also consider ways to further support the principal in his leadership development.

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.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education continues to provide support for the principal to further develop the quality of teaching practice across the school.

Conclusion

Students engage purposefully in learning. They benefit from teaching practices increasingly focused on their diverse learning needs. School and community relationships are mutually supportive, and parent partnerships in their children’s learning are valued. Strengthened governance and leadership capability has led to the school now being well placed to consolidate its good practices.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

4 March 2016

School Statistics

Location

Dargaville

Ministry of Education profile number

1098

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

75

Gender composition

Boys 41, Girls 34

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Filipino

Tongan

Samoan

other Pacific

other

18

37

6

6

4

3

1

Review team on site

December 2015

Date of this report

4 March 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2014

January 2012

December 2009