St Joseph's School (Wairoa)

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Findings

St Joseph’s School (Wairoa) has made very good progress in responding to the May 2015 ERO report. Increased professional leadership from the principal strengthens ongoing staff and curriculum developments. Trustees are clearly focused on accelerating the achievement of target learners and provide improvement-focused governance.

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 School (Wairoa) is a Catholic primary, providing education for children in Years 1 to 8. The roll of 72, includes 48 Māori and two Pacific children. The roll is improving after a decrease since the May 2015 ERO report.

An acting principal was in place for most of 2015 and a new, experienced principal was appointed in 2016. Other staffing changes have occurred during this time. The board remains stable and has provided continuity over this period. The school is part of the Wairoa Community of Learning.

This report concludes the second 1 to 2 year ERO review process for St Joseph’s School Wairoa since September 2012. It considers the progress made in developing school professional leadership and a responsive curriculum to improve teaching and learning.

Very good progress is evident since the start of 2016 in establishing school systems and processes to improve teaching, learning and student wellbeing.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The May 2015 ERO report identified the need for the board to receive suitable student achievement reports to support their governance role. Other key next steps for improvements included professional leadership and processes to support effective teaching and learning.

Progress

Trustees receive regular and relevant student achievement reports that enable them to track progress. They are becoming better informed about the impact of annual improvement targets focused on accelerating the achievement of learners not yet at the National Standards. Many target children made accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics during 2016. 

Strategic professional leadership from the principal results in a platform for collaborative school improvement. There is a clear vision to provide children with more effective teaching and learning opportunities. Increased expectations for literacy and mathematics teaching centre on accelerating learning through teachers' inquiries into their practice. Suitable schoolwide professional learning and development for staff underpins this work.

The principal led thoughtful and well-considered reviews of the school curriculum to establish priorities for learning. Student surveys that include a focus on wellbeing are responded to by the principal and board. Collegial planning and ways of working together are developing well. Learning partnerships with parents and whānau are growing through increased opportunities to discuss learning and to celebrate children’s success at school events.

A local and place-based curriculum that reflects te ao Māori and the school’s special character has progressed. Teachers are developing their cultural responsiveness and use of te reo Māori. The board’s consultation with the school’s Māori community and whānau is focused on strengthening relationships. Children’s culture is increasingly valued and supported.

Assessment practices have improved. Teachers' understanding and use of assessment tools has grown through the moderation of writing. They are continuing to strengthen the use of assessment to inform teaching and to help children to identify learning goals. An ongoing focus on empowering children to self manage and develop learner agency continues.

There is a clear focus on accelerating the progress and achievement of learners who require additional assistance to achieve well. This includes the re-establishment of learning support processes. Appropriate external agency expertise is sought for identified learners.

Key next steps
The principal, teachers and staff should continue to develop, embed and refine:
  • the implementation of the curriculum to support accelerated learning, increased cultural responsiveness  and learner agency
  • tracking, monitoring and reporting on the accelerated progress of target children in reading, writing and mathematics and those involved in learning support programmes.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school has made very good progress and is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance. The board’s strategic direction is appropriately focused on accelerating the achievement of learners. Strengthened professional leadership opportunities for teachers is leading to positive changes for learners and teachers.

The principal has introduced robust components of teacher appraisal. This includes developing job descriptions, goal setting, observations of teaching, feedback and next steps and inquiry into teaching practices. Teachers reflect on their evidence and links to the Practising Teacher Criteria. Continuing to embed appraisal should contribute to growth in professional practices. Reviewing the appraisal policy and procedures to reflect current Education Council guidelines is a next step. 

Stewardship is improvement focused. The board’s review of policies and procedures is timely and succession planning is well managed. Personnel policy review results in a responsive staff induction and mentoring programme. Annual improvement targets set by trustees demonstrate a shared understanding about the importance of improving equity and excellence in learners’ outcomes.

The use of internal evaluation to support ongoing school improvements is at early stages of development.

Key next steps

Ongoing next steps for the board, principal and staff include, continuing to:

  • strengthen schoolwide professional leadership and capacity building of teachers
  • develop and use internal evaluation to support ongoing improvements for children.

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.

In order to improve current practice, trustees should:

  • ensure reports to parents are clearly and consistently referenced to the National Standards in reading writing and mathematics. 

Conclusion

St Joseph’s School (Wairoa) has made very good progress in responding to the May 2015 ERO report. Increased professional leadership from the principal strengthens ongoing staff and curriculum developments. Trustees are clearly focused on accelerating the achievement of target learners and provide improvement-focused governance.

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

Pat Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

10 May 2017

About the School

Location

Wairoa

Ministry of Education profile number

2679

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

72

Gender composition

Female 41, Male 31

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Fijian
Other ethnic groups

48
20
  2
  2

Review team on site

April 2017

Date of this report

10 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2015
September 2012
June 2009

Findings

St Joseph’s School has made some progress since the September 2012 ERO report. Student achievement has improved, but for significant groups it remains an area of concern. Systems and processes to support teaching and learning are developing. The school is not yet in a position where it has the capacity to continue to improve and review its performance.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

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

St Joseph’s (Wairoa) is a Years 1 to 8 primary school. It has a roll of 84, a significant decrease since the end of 2012.

The September 2012 ERO report identified significant areas for review and development. These included the need to improve student progress and achievement, the quality of teaching and professional leadership.

Following that report, an external facilitator worked with the principal and staff to develop an improvement plan to guide development and review over two years.

This report is an evaluation of progress made since 2012 and how well placed the school is to sustain and continue its improvement.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

An action plan was developed with key priorities for improvement. Actions and outcomes were monitored throughout the ongoing ERO review process.

The overall goal was to significantly improve leadership and management systems. Actions to achieve the goal have been to:

  • strengthen analysis, use and reporting of student achievement information
  • develop the principal’s professional leadership
  • develop effective teaching practices
  • raise student achievement.
Progress

The school has yet to fully respond to ERO’s 2012 report. Further development in leadership and management is required.

School reported data in December 2014 shows most students are achieving at or above in relation to National Standards in reading and writing. Teachers have strengthened moderation practices to better support these judgements. Progress and achievement in mathematics is significantly lower. This has been identified as a focus for professional learning and development (PLD) this year.

Parents receive useful information about their child’s achievement in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. There are useful next steps and ways for parents to support their child’s learning at home.

Teachers are using assessment data to find general learning needs and to group students for instruction. Use of this information to identify the needs of individual students and next steps for learning is developing. School leaders and teachers must ensure that teaching and learning programmes meet the needs of all students, especially those learners most at risk of not achieving.

During the review ERO observed all classrooms and met with a group of students. They were able to talk confidently about their learning. Students set goals and progress towards these was well monitored by themselves and teachers.

Systems have been developed to track student progress throughout the year. However, the plans developed to support this process and to improve student achievement are not specific and are unlikely to drive acceleration of progress. School-wide achievement targets should be improved to specify those groups of learners who are underachieving.

Trustees have a clear focus on raising student achievement. They have significantly increased the PLD budget to support this focus.

The principal has received extensive support and PLD to build leadership skills and knowledge. A strength of the principal’s leadership is his focus on promoting shared values relating to the Catholic character of the school.

Teachers are reflecting on their practice and sharing ideas with each other. A next step is to develop a shared understanding of the process of teachers’ evaluating the effectiveness of their practice to improve student achievement (teaching as inquiry).

The appraisal process now includes the Registered Teacher Criteria. In 2015 the principal carried out classroom observations. These were not evaluative about the quality of teaching and there was no feedback related to strengths and next steps. Currently appraisal is not driving ongoing improvement of teaching or leadership.

Trustees have developed clear student achievement reporting guidelines. However, the principal and senior leaders are in the early stages of developing their capacity to report student achievement data in a useful and informative way. These reports are very general and do not include:

  • information and analysis about groups of students
  • progress made by underachieving students
  • targeted or specific recommendations.

Self review is focused on identifying priorities for improvement. To further develop review the school must strengthen action plans, improve monitoring and evaluate the effectiveness of what they do.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The board has undertaken significant training for the governance role. Trustees have a very good understanding of the responsibilities of governance. The board is providing considerable support and direction for the principal and school. ERO’s external evaluation supports the principal’s and trustees’ recognition that leadership continues to be an area for development.

The school is not well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance.

The principal and staff have to understand and recognise that trustees must be provided with accurate, high quality, timely information about student progress and achievement so that they can fully undertake their governance role.

Development is needed in:

  • the principal's knowledge and understanding of his leadership role to lead and sustain improvement for promoting student progress and achievement
  • the analysis and clarity of reports to the board on student progress
  • using assessment data effectively to monitor and promote student progress and set targets
  • evaluation of the impact of programmes and interventions on outcomes for students
  • appraisal and inquiry to drive ongoing teacher improvement and improve student 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.

In order to improve practice the school needs to:

  • ensure regular fire and earthquake drills are conducted and documented
  • develop and strengthen school procedures.

4 Recommendations

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

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the board of trustees and principal to bring about improvements in school management, teaching and learning and self review.

Conclusion

St Joseph’s School has made some progress since the September 2012 ERO report. Student achievement has improved, but for significant groups it remains an area of concern. Systems and processes to support teaching and learning are developing. The school is not yet in a position where it has the capacity to continue to improve and review its performance.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Image removed.Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

19 May 2015

About the School

Location

Wairoa

Ministry of Education profile number

2679

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

84

Gender composition

Female 42, Male 42

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Other ethnic groups

36

40

8

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

19 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2012

June 2009

May 2006