St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield)

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School Context

St Joseph’s Catholic School (Fairfield) provides Catholic education for Years 1-8 students. The roll of 357 includes 9% Māori, 3% Pacific and students from a range of other ethnicities. Through its mission statement and vision the school aims to provide holistic education in an environment that reflects the values of the Roman Catholic Church. These values are; love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, faithfulness, goodness, kindness and gentleness. The school prioritises strategic goals that promote the Catholic faith, high levels of achievement and inclusive learning for all students. Current school targets for spelling were derived from the school’s 2016 achievement data. The school aims for all students to achieve their potential.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board about outcomes for students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the last ERO review a number of new trustees have joined the board. Professional learning and development for teachers has focused on oral language, curriculum review and development, te reo and tikanga Māori. The school is a member of the Waikato Catholic Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for most students. The school’s achievement data over the last three years indicates that most students, including Māori, are achieving at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Boys’ achievement in reading has improved. However, boys do not achieve as well as girls in writing.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is responding effectively to accelerating the achievement of many Māori and other at-risk students.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Trustees, leaders and teachers effectively promote the school’s mission, vision and values. Students’ holistic wellbeing is central to decision making. Promotion of the Catholic values and responsive pastoral care contribute to a settled school environment that is conducive to learning.

School practices are inclusive of all learners. Students with additional needs experience a collaborative wrap-around approach that supports their participation and success. The school’s Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) has developed comprehensive systems and practices for identifying students who have specific learning needs, planning for individuals and monitoring progress of students achieving below expected levels. She works collaboratively with teachers to develop personalised plans that are responsive to each student’s needs and strengths. These plans are focussed on learning and skill development. The school also works in partnership with families and external agencies to support improved outcomes for these students.

Leaders and teachers are open to new learning. Innovation and reflection are encouraged when considering new initiatives designed to support higher levels of student engagement. Currently, careful consideration is being given to changes in teaching practice that are required for effective use of modern learning environments, and digital technologies for enhancing teaching and learning.

Teachers are committed to the school’s strategic approach to strengthening culturally responsive practices. This is resulting in increased presence and use of te reo and tikanga Māori across the school.

Reciprocal, learning-centred relationships are highly evident. Parents are well informed and have many opportunities to participate in their students’ learning. Students are making good use of the school’s digital platform and student-led conferences to share their learning with families. Parents are supportive of the school and make a valued contribution through involvement in classroom programmes and extra-curricular activities.

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

School targets are not reflective of all at-risk students. The school’s special needs register identifies all at risk learners. However, not all of these students are included in the board’s annual achievement targets. More inclusive targets and reporting throughout the year should enable the board to know the rates of progress for all students whose achievement needs acceleration.

The teacher appraisal process needs strengthening. The principal needs to continue to review, develop and further document the appraisal process to ensure a robust approach to ongoing teacher development and to improve learner outcomes.

The school is yet to develop a systematic approach to internal evaluation. Leaders and teachers need to develop their capacity to use internal evaluation and inquiry to understand the impact of teachers’ practice and school initiatives on learning outcomes for all students, particularly those whose progress and achievement needs acceleration.

The school’s curriculum review and development is ongoing. Leaders and teachers now need to reach shared and agreed understandings about:

  • school-wide expectations for effective teaching in each learning area
  • learning pathways, curriculum integration and inquiry learning
  • formative assessment practices
  • student agency for greater understanding and ownership of their own learning.

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.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 established under 238F OF THE Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the code.

No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership that promotes innovation and reflection

  • school culture that strongly reflects the school’s vision and values creating positive environments for learning

  • learner centred relationships that engage parents as partners in their student’s learning.

Next steps

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

  • teacher appraisal to ensure teachers receive regular and robust professional critique about their practice

  • ongoing curriculum review to support the development of shared and agreed understandings and expectations for effective teaching practice across the curriculum

  • targeted planning to accelerate learning [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school]

  • internal evaluation processes and practices.

[ERO will provide an 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

14 February 2018

About the school

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

1946

School type

Full Primary Years 1-8

School roll

357

Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 73%
Māori 9%
Asian 6%
Pacific 3%
Other 9%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

14 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review November 2014
Education Review April 2011
Education Review June 2008

Findings

St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield) offers students a wide range of learning opportunities. Students enjoy a safe and inclusive environment for learning in well-maintained and functional facilities. The school curriculum promotes student progress and celebrates their achievements. Relationships among students and teachers are positive and mutually respectful.

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

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield) serves the Hamilton parish. The roll of 341 students includes 9% who are identified as Māori and students from a wide range of ethnicities. Parents, whānau and the wider community have a close partnership with the school, and this contributes to students’ enjoyment of their life in the school. The school’s identity and culture, and its support for student wellbeing, are underpinned by Roman Catholic values.

The new principal is providing effective, inclusive leadership that is contributing to the development of a school-wide focus on raising student achievement. He works with the new deputy principal to promote learning and high-quality teaching. An enthusiastic team of trustees have a good understanding about how school goals align with teacher professional development. Teachers work well as a collegial team and promote many learning opportunities for students. Parents are an integral part of the school and participate in school functions and sporting events. The school has a positive ERO reporting history.

A notable feature of the school is a focus on building positive partnerships among students, teachers, parents and whānau. They are developing an effective and sustainable learning community, which is inclusive and focused on improving the quality of education for children.

Students enjoy their involvement with all aspects of the learning programme. They are enthusiastic about learning and have a good understanding about their progress and achievement. The use of information and communications technology is complementing many learning programmes in the school.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield) has effective systems in place for managing and using student achievement information to make positive changes for student engagement, progress and achievement.

Students are fully engaged in learning. They have a good understanding of their achievement, reflect on their work and set goals to guide their next learning steps. These practices are increasing students’ independence, confidence and motivation to succeed in a wide range of academic, sporting and cultural activities. Students share their progress with other students and their parents. Student-led conferences provide parents with a very good understanding of how their children are learning and achieving.

Student assessment data is gathered from an appropriate range of national tests and school-developed assessments. Senior leaders analyse this information to identify achievement patterns and provide appropriate interventions to raise student achievement. They have identified the importance of continuing to strengthen teachers’ capability and consistency in the moderation of student assessment information. This is likely to improve the reliability of overall teacher judgements about student progress and achievement in relation to National Standards.

Team leaders work with teachers to provide specific learning programmes in reading, writing and mathematics for students who need extra support in their learning. Teachers monitor students’ learning in reading and writing. In mathematics there is good evidence of students making accelerated progress.

School achievement data for 2013 shows that the vast majority of students is achieving at and above National Standards (NS) in reading. In writing and mathematics, most students are achieving at and above NS. Māori students are achieving at similar levels to non-Māori in reading and mathematics, and slightly below in writing. The school is likely to reach the Ministry of Education goal for 85% of students achieving at and above in NS by 2017.

Trustees work effectively with the principal to develop strategic goals and set targets to raise student achievement. They have a good understanding of self review and how it contributes to school improvement. Student achievement information is used to guide the school’s strategic direction towards meeting the learning needs of all students.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

At the beginning of 2013, senior leaders, together with staff, developed a framework to review the school’s curriculum. Their primary focus was initially on literacy, mathematics and religious education. Deliberate, collaborative planning by all staff has contributed to a shared ownership and understanding of the St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield) School Curriculum. This broad curriculum effectively guides school learning programmes, which promote and support student learning.

The features of the curriculum are the:

  • integration of some learning areas, which assists students to make links to other learning
  • use of authentic contexts for learning
  • inclusion of teaching strategies that promote student thinking, celebrate their progress and identify their emergent learning.

Teachers deliberately support students’ learning and have open discussions with students. Oral language professional learning and development, has significantly influenced students’ engagement, communication and learning. Students are frequently encouraged to think more deeply about their learning experiences and knowledge.

The school mathematics programme is well embedded. An external provider guides the implementation of the programme and all teachers are observed and evaluated as they improve their practice. This programme has had a positive effect on student engagement and learning in mathematics. The integration of computer technologies and a variety of effective teaching and learning strategies within mathematics promotes students’ skills.

Positive, respectful relationships are a feature of the school. Teachers know students well and value students’ prior knowledge.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school charter includes a strategic approach to the promotion of educational success for Māori as Māori. During 2013 a whānau group was established to involve Māori whānau and school personnel in a reciprocal partnership to benefit the education of Māori students' learning in the school. The aspirations of whānau are beginning to be incorporated into the school curriculum. Recent initiatives include Matariki and Māori language week. The school is developing a knowledge-base about available research and resources to design an appropriate curriculum that is focused on educational success for Māori students.

The principal has identified the need for school-wide professional learning and development about promoting ‘success for Māori, as Māori’. The school has identified and ERO agrees that the next step is to implement a te reo and tikanga Māori programme, which promotes both mana whenua (belonging) and mana tangata (identity).

4 Sustainable Performance

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

A learning culture that is based on strong partnerships among students, parents/whānau and staff is significantly contributing to the school being well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Features that contribute to school sustainability are:

  • enthusiastic and knowledgeable trustees
  • a principal who has a clear vision for school development
  • collaborative leadership opportunities for teachers and students
  • comprehensive staff appraisal processes
  • a focus on establishing positive relationships
  • teachers who share their professional learning to improve their practice
  • a framework for ongoing self review
  • good community support and involvement in the school curriculum.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to The Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international learners is thorough.

At the time of this ERO review there were four international fee-paying students in the school. These students are well supported by experienced staff. Policies and procedures are clearly documented and regularly reviewed.

Students have access to good quality education programmes that includes English language support based on students’ individual needs. Students are encouraged to participate in school activities. There is a strong focus on ensuring students’ wellbeing and pastoral care. Student progress is well monitored and appropriate support in planning their learning pathways is provided.

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.

Conclusion

St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield) offers students a wide range of learning opportunities. Students enjoy a safe and inclusive environment for learning in well-maintained and functional facilities. The school curriculum promotes student progress and celebrates their achievements. Relationships among students and teachers are positive and mutually respectful.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

11 November 2014

About the School

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

1946

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

341

Number of international students

4

Gender composition

Girls 53%

Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Chinese

Pacific

Other Asian

Other European

Other

77%

9%

2%

2%

2%

2%

6%

Review team on site

September 2014

Date of this report

11 November 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2011

June 2008

April 2005