St Marcellin School (Wanganui)

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Findings

The school continues to need support to grow its capacity to sustain and improve its performance. ERO will continue to work with St Marcellin School as part of the Evaluation for Improvement process and maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

1 Background and Context

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

St Marcellin School in Whanganui is a state integrated, Years 1 to 8 Catholic primary school. At the time of this review the roll was 51, with 16 students identifying as Māori and eight of Pacific heritage. Students learn in multi-level classes.

The January 2018 ERO report found significant concerns about the school’s performance and indicated that another review would be carried out over the course of one-to-two years. It recommended that the school seek support from the Ministry of Education (MoE) in order to bring about improvements. A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) was appointed and continues to work with the school as the Commissioner.

Over the past three years the school has participated in an ongoing ERO evaluation process to support improvement. During this time, trustees and staff accessed appropriate external professional learning and development (PLD) to support them in their roles and practice.

Following the previous ERO report, a plan was developed to guide improvements in priority areas. This ERO report evaluates the progress made since 2018 and how well placed the school is to sustain continuous improvement.

In mid 2019, ERO met with the LSM, school leaders, the Diocesan adviser and MoE to redevelop the school action plan to guide improvement and change. Subsequently, ERO has evaluated progress in discussion with the school, MoE and diocesan personnel, trustees and the LSM.

Over 2020 and 2021, Covid 19, interruptions to leadership and changes to the governance structure have had an impact on the school’s response to the identified areas for improvement.

The school is part of the Takitini Kahui Āko.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

A plan outlining key priorities for improvement was developed. This outlines and monitors actions taken and outcomes achieved throughout the process.

The overall goal was to improve leadership, governance, school practice and operation to promote
positive learning outcomes and accelerate the progress of all students. Areas of focus to support this
have included:

  • understanding, use and analysis of student achievement data

  • curriculum development

  • building professional leadership and teacher capacity

  • trustees’ understanding and undertaking of their governance role

  • undertaking policy and procedure development and review

  • evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building.

Progress

The 2019 midpoint report noted that progress and development was evident in relation to the following:

  • initial teacher PLD had been undertaken, introducing the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) to support moderation practice

  • to guide further improvements, MoE was in the process of appointing a LSM to support trustees’ governance and a change team.

School leadership continues to implement processes to support change and improvement in the school.

Students learn in a caring environment where their successes are acknowledged. Staff know children and their whānau well. Students with additional needs work alongside their peers. Support staff work alongside teachers in classrooms to support their learning and wellbeing.

Leaders and teachers continue to access PLD to support them build their capability. This learning has been useful. They are still in the early stages of implementing this learning and building capability.

Staff are still at the early stages of understanding and using assessment to inform teaching and learning. Teacher judgements about progress and achievement in writing are more dependable and moderation has been completed across the school. Teachers have identified that moderating with other schools would be useful.

Teachers identified target students for 2021, based on end-of-2020 data. Accelerated progress and achievement is evident for a few of these students. School reported data for the end of 2021, shows significant underachievement across the school in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school’s curriculum is underpinned by its special character and Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L). Developing a responsive, localised curriculum remains a strategic priority. Progress so far has included initial work with iwi and Kāhui Ako. Currently individual curriculum statements and the assessment schedule are under review. Expectations for effective teaching need to be reviewed to align with current practice and reflect recent PLD.

A performance management system supporting building capability for the principal is in place. This is linked to the professional standards for principals, the standards for the teaching profession, the school’s strategic priorities and areas for development identified in the 2018 ERO report. The principal and teachers have worked collaboratively to develop and implement the professional growth cycle to support building effective teacher capability. Teachers’ professional goals are aligned to their target student focuses, the school’s special character and wellbeing.

The school has moved to an online platform to support the management and review of policies and procedures that guide school practice and operation. The board, currently the commissioner, contributes to the review of policies according to the set schedule.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school needs to continue to grow its capacity to sustain and improve its performance.

The principal reports regularly to the commissioner about school operation, learning opportunities, student achievement and personnel.

Key next steps

The principal and ERO agree the next steps for the school are to:

  • set achievement targets for 2022, that give priority to, and focus on, accelerating the learning for all students at risk of underachieving in reading, writing and mathematics

  • build teacher capability – understand what effective teaching practice means and looks like

  • build collective capacity to accelerate learning for all students and raise the overall levels of achievement

  • understand and use school processes and systems to deliberately plan for, track, monitor, record and report students’ progress and achievement

  • complete the review and development of the localised curriculum.

Attention to these aspects should support teachers to have a greater sense of urgency and higher expectations for student learning and achievement.

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

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

During the course of the review ERO identified the following areas of non-compliance:

  • consultation with school community about the school’s health curriculum.

In order to address these the board of trustees must:

  • comply with the requirement to adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum, at least once in every two years, after consultation with the school community.
    [Section 91 Education and Training Act 2020]

In order to improve current practice, the principal and commissioner should ensure that the:

  • principal’s performance management process is implemented consistently

  • records of meetings between the principal and commissioner accurately record detailed information about what is discussed and what has informed decision making.

4 Recommendations

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

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider continuing the intervention under section 171 of the Education and Training Act 2020 in order to bring about further improvements.

Conclusion

The school continues to need support to grow its capacity to sustain and improve its performance. ERO will continue to work with St Marcellin School as part of the Evaluation for Improvement process and maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)
Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

14 April 2022

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

School Context

St Marcellin School in Whanganui is a state integrated Years 1 to 8 Catholic primary. At the time of this ERO review there were 76 children on the roll, with 38 identifying as Māori, 9 as Pacific and 12 as Asian.

The school’s vision is to provide ‘quality education in a positive Catholic environment’, according to values of ‘excellence, integrity, respect and courage’ and in relation to the special Catholic character.

The charter identifies three strategic areas for student success: special character; student achievement; and sustainability. The 2017 annual plan includes broad expectations for students’ progress, but without measurable targets for achievement and acceleration.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas: achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Since 2014, the board chair and trustees are new to their roles. The principal was appointed in Term 1, 2016, and four of five staff members are newly appointed. A new leadership team of the principal and acting deputy principal has been formed. The declining roll is stabilising.

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?

It is not possible to determine reliably how well the school is currently achieving equitable and excellent outcomes, as it does not have available a clear picture of schoolwide achievement for 2016, and mid-year 2017.

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

There is an urgent need to establish a coordinated schoolwide response to those Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

School conditions, culture and classroom environments support students’ engagement with and participation in learning. Wellbeing is supported by the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme and the school’s special character. Students interact respectfully with their peers and adults.

Staff model and promote culturally responsive and inclusive practices. Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are evident in learning programmes, children’s liturgies and celebrations. Teachers and students confidently speak te reo Māori. Tuakana tēina relationships between older and younger students are evident and opportunities for leadership are promoted.

Students receive and respond well to feedback from their teachers. Senior students are able to talk knowledgably about what they have learned and are beginning to make decisions about and take more responsibility for their learning.

Students with additional needs are well supported. Their strengths, interests and needs are well known by teachers. Programmes for them are regularly reviewed by teachers and leaders. Students with high learning or behavioural needs are supported through individual planning, consultation with whānau, and staffing allocations.

Professional and collaborative working relationships within the board and school and with the community are aligned to supporting and improving conditions for learning. The principal’s leadership builds trust and respectful relationships. The leadership team is fostering members’ individual strengths and expertise. Teachers work collaboratively, are open to new ideas, reflective and engage in discussions. Parents and whānau are welcomed and involved in the life of the school, and kept well informed.

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

an improved response to those Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.The board, leaders and staff need to develop a shared understanding and knowledge about accelerated learning for equity and excellence in student outcomes. This should lead to

Reported achievement data has been identified as not dependable, as a basis for decision making. A priority is for trustees and leaders to set annual achievement targets using dependable data and in response to what the data shows. Target setting should include identifying and prioritising the needs of students at risk of underachieving. Effective systems are also needed for leaders and teachers to track and monitor student progress in relation to the targets.

To improve the quality of data, assessment practices needs to include: a clear understanding of expected levels of achievement for students in each year group; documented assessment guidelines and procedures; and, regular moderation of teachers’ assessment judgements about students’ achievement.

Processes for capacity and knowledge building, of leaders and teachers, need further development to align with annual targets and promote accelerated achievement. This should be supported by relevant professional learning and development and use of appraisal, and should include:

  • increasing staff capability to inquire into and respond more effectively to children’s needs, interests and strengths

  • developing a useful curriculum with agreed expectations and guidance for teaching and learning

  • strengthening partnerships with whānau.

These improvements should be underpinned for sustainability by ongoing internal evaluation of what is working to make the greatest difference for students’ learning, what is not, and what needs to change.

Subsequent to the on-site phase of the review, the school has undertaken work in relation to:

  • data analysis

  • achievement

  • appraisal

  • policies and procedures.

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.

Appraisal audit and actions for compliance

Requirements are not met for the appraisal and assessment of the principal’s and teachers’ performance, and teacher registration.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • implement a performance management system for the principal and teachers that is evidence and inquiry based, linked to the professional standards for principals and Practising Teacher Criteria and the school’s annual targets. [s77C State Sector Act 1988; (NZ Gazette No 180: Dec 1996)]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should undertake regular review and development of policies and procedures, including in relation to:

  • processes for the appointment of staff

  • behaviour management.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • inclusive, culturally responsive practices that value te ao Māori, and promote students’ wellbeing, engagement and decision making for their learning

  • collaborative relationships within the board and school, and with parents, whānau and community that focus on providing positive conditions for students’ learning.

Next steps

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

  • improving the quality and use of student achievement data for decision making to identify and address student needs and promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all

  • cohesive and aligned processes for annual planning and curriculum development, supported by professional learning and development, teacher inquiry, appraisal and evaluation.

ERO recommends that:

  1. The school seek support from the Ministry of Education in order to bring about improvements in:

  • moderation, analysis and use of student achievement data
  • curriculum development
  • professional leadership and teacher capacity
  • evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building.
  1. The board seek support to assist trustees to:

  • understand and undertake their governance role
  • undertake policy and procedure development and review.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing external evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

11 January 2018

About the school

Location

Whanganui

Ministry of Education profile number

2395

School type

Full primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

76

Gender composition

Female 41, Male 35

Ethnic composition

Māori 38
Pacific 9
Pākehā 16
Other ethnic groups 13

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

October 2017

Date of this report

11 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

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