St Mary's School (Hastings)

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

There may be delays between reviews for some schools and kura due to Covid-19 and while we transition to our new way of reviewing.

Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

School Context

St Mary’s School is a state integrated school located in Hastings. It has students in Years 1 to 8. Currently 264 students are enrolled, with 11% identifying as Māori and 11% as of Pacific heritage.

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school is to ‘provide a quality education in a Catholic environment, working with the family to develop the whole person’. This is underpinned by the Cornerstone Gospel Values of ‘respect, responsibility and reconciliation’.

Current goals and targets are focused on improving outcomes for students in literacy and mathematic and teachers’ cultural responsiveness.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in:

  • reading, writing and mathematics.

Schoolwide professional learning and development in 2019 is focused understanding and use of culturally responsive relationships and practices. Some experienced trustees provide continuity on the board and are supporting newly appointed board members.

The school is a member of the Ngā Hau e Whā Kāhui Ako.

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 continuing to strengthen its effectiveness in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. These outcomesare consistently good, but with some minor variation.

At the end of 2018, the school reported that most students achieved at and above expectation in reading, writing and mathematics. This pattern has been consistent over the past three years.

Leaders have identified some discrepancies in the data and are moving to a new school management system to address this. The available data indicates that accelerating the achievement of Māori, Pacific and boys remains a priority.

Pacific students are not achieving as well as other students in the school. However, there is evidence over the past three years of an improving trend for this group of students.

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

The school has identified the students whose learning requires acceleration and individual teachers are addressing this. They are not yet reporting about rates of acceleration for all students whose learning is at risk.

At the end of 2018, the school was able to show effective acceleration for a small number of target students whose learning was at risk in reading, writing and mathematics. Acceleration for some Māori and Pacific students was evident.

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?

Leadership ensures an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. The school’s charter clearly sets out long term strategic goals that are underpinned by the school’s special character. Progress in relation to these goals is regularly reported to the board.

Students learn in a positive, caring and supportive environment that is well aligned with the school’s special character. They engage in purposeful learning in well-ordered and settled environments. Collaborative learning strategies are well developed. Students are self-managing and value the opportunity to support each other and share their learning with their peers.

Teachers know the students and their needs very well. They have high expectations for them to be successful learners. Strategies for teachers to inquire into and improve their practice are well developed. Staff closely track and monitor the progress and achievement of all students, particularly those most at risk. They regularly discuss the impact of their teaching strategies, programmes and interventions on how these are promoting the achievement of target students.

Students access a broad and responsive curriculum with an appropriate focus on literacy and mathematics and the school’s special character. Students access a wide range of academic, cultural and sporting experiences within the school and wider community that enhance their learning. These provide valuable leadership opportunities for students. A good range of communication strategies are used to keep parents and whānau informed about their child’s learning.

New families and visitors are warmly welcomed into the school. There are specific strategies in place to support transitions into and beyond the school. Students requiring additional learning support are well supported through targeted interventions and close relationships with parents and whānau.

The school’s current focus on strengthening teachers’ knowledge, understanding and use of culturally responsive relationships and practices is increasingly evident in their practice and school protocols. This is strengthening learning partnerships with Māori whānau and a sense of belonging for Māori students.

Processes for internal evaluation are well established and effectively inform ongoing school developments. Multiple voices contribute to decision making for improvement.

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 have identified the need to review the school curriculum to be more local placed based and responsive. Work is underway to progress this.

Trustees, leaders and teachers should develop a more strategic approach to accelerating progress especially for at risk learners, including:

  • schoolwide targets that involve all students whose learning is at risk

  • regular reporting to trustees about the rate and pace of acceleration for these learners.

  • evaluating the impact of programmes and initiatives on improving outcomes for students.

This should enable trustees, leaders and teachers to establish how well disparity is being reduced and equitable outcomes are being promoted for all learners.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should ensure the appointments policy includes the school's process in relation to safety checking of the workforce.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of St Mary’s School (Hastings)’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the commitment to the school’s special character that underpins teaching and learning
  • systems and processes that enable teachers to track and monitor the progress and achievement of students most at risk
  • culturally responsive relationships and practices that are strengthening learning partnerships with parents and whānau.

Next steps

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

  • developing school wide targets that are focused on acceleration for all students at risk of poor educational outcomes.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

23 October 2019

About the school

Location

Hastings

Ministry of Education profile number

2681

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

264

Gender composition

Female 59%, Male 41%

Ethnic composition

Māori 11%
NZ European/Pākehā 64%
Pacific 11%
Other ethnic groups 14%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

September 2019

Date of this report

23 October 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2016
Education Review January 2014
Education Review December 2010

1 Context

St Mary’s School (Hastings) is a Catholic, state integrated school for students in Years 1 to 8. Fourteen percent of the students identify as Māori and ten percent as Pacific. The majority of board members are new to their roles in mid-2016.

Students are from Hastings' suburbs and neighbouring areas. An increasing number of students are from Asia and Pacific nations and have English as their second language.  

Since the January 2014 ERO report, teachers have been involved in several Ministry of Education professional learning and development (PLD) programmes, particularly for accelerated learning in literacy and mathematics.

St Mary’s School has joined the Hastings West Community of Learning (CoL). The school has a positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to live by the Catholic Gospel values of Respect, Responsibility and Reconciliation.

The school values recognise the importance of tikanga and te reo Māori which are integrated into many aspects of the curriculum. Cultural diversity and inclusion are promoted and celebrated.

A shared belief is that all students are supported to be successful learners so that they will continue to learn beyond school. Positive relationships are important across the school community.

The school's achievement information shows that from 2014 to 2016, student achievement is tracking towards the national target for 85% of students to be achieving at or above the National Standards. Many students achieved at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics in 2015. 

Māori students’ achievement has improved from 2013 to 2016. In 2015, they achieved above their peers in the school in writing and reading, but below in mathematics. The school is yet to raise the achievement of Pacific students to that of their peers in all three learning areas.

Teachers use a robust moderation process to support the consistency of their assessment judgements about students' achievement. 

Since the previous ERO review trustees and leaders have:

  • given high priority to accelerating achievement of groups of senior students, predominantly boys, who need improved progress in reading, writing and mathematics.
  • focused on improving achievement of Pacific students across all areas
  • set strategic priorities, plans and resourcing to address students' learning needs.
  • undertaken schoolwide PLD on responsive teaching and learning strategies
  • improved analysis of student assessment information and inquiry into the impact of teaching practices on student progress
  • established student achievement data boards which are well used for regular tracking and monitoring of target students against expectations and sharing progress with leaders and the board.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has responded very effectively to Māori learners whose achievement needs to be accelerated. This has resulted in increased numbers of these targeted Māori learners achieving at expected levels.

Teachers are committed to supporting all learners to be successful. They demonstrate high expectations for all, researched-based teaching strategies, inclusive values and practices, and increasing opportunities for purposeful communications with whānau.

Leaders use consultative processes to gather the perspectives and priorities of students, whānau and staff to inform strategies and actions. Leaders support teachers to refine and embed practices over time to improve learning opportunities for all students.

ERO affirms the school's comprehensive review and development processes and changed practices to reduce disparity of achievement, especially in mathematics.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Teachers and their leaders know well those students whose learning needs acceleration. They use a range of information to inform teaching programmes and interventions. In 2016, a significant number of learners made accelerated progress, with some now achieving at expected levels for their age.

Students with additional learning needs are well identified and provided with differentiated programmes and resources to cater for needs. The school makes good use of partnerships with external agencies to support students.

School data shows some English language learners are making good progress in their language learning through in-class instruction and additional programmes. As a result, some are achieving at expected levels in relation to National Standards.

The school has accelerated the achievement of some targeted Pacific students. Trustees and leaders identify that additional inquiry and resourcing are needed to achieve equity for Pacific students. A change team has been established to collect further information and consult with the community to inform planning and strategies to address this challenge.

The school should further develop systems and assessment processes for evaluating the effectiveness of learning support programmes and resourcing for students with additional needs. This should assist trustees to make evidence-based decisions.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

Trustees are improvement-focused, involved in training for their roles and responsibilities, and representative of a diverse community. They are well informed during the year through regular, comprehensive information about student progress in relation to school priorities and annual targets.

The school has good systems for regular policy review and development. Increased scrutiny of student achievement data should strengthen the board's evaluation of the impact of its resourcing decisions on improving rates of progress.

Leadership is highly effective and provides sound systems and high expectations for ongoing improvement. School leaders relentlessly pursue strategies that focus on all students being successful learners and accelerating the achievement of those at risk of poor educational outcomes.

Leaders champion ongoing staff learning and knowledge building through inquiry, research, review and provision of a wide range of PLD. They set high expectations for teaching practice and support and coach teachers as emerging leaders.

The school continues to build reciprocal and learner-centred relationships with parents and whānau. Families have a range of opportunities to contribute to their child's learning through formal and informal interactions. Parents’ views and perspectives are well considered and are used to inform planning and priorities for students.

Transitions for students into and beyond the school are well planned and responsive to individuals.

The St Mary’s School curriculum is broad and responsive to students’ lives and family aspirations. It provides opportunities for students to make good progress as successful learners. Well-managed learning environments support participation, engagement and inclusion. Programmes are regularly modified in response to learners' needs. Learner-led inquiry and use of digital technology promote high levels of engagement.

Teachers' and leaders' capability and collective capacity are continually developing to respond to school priorities, individual needs and charter expectations. They are involved in coaching, teacher inquiry and robust appraisal aligned to improving outcomes for students. Further refinement of appraisal goals so that they specifically relate to valued student outcomes should increase the focus on those students whose progress needs to be accelerated. 

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Leaders and teachers have used a range of effective strategies and tools to support the ongoing improvement in student achievement across the school. Further development of internal evaluation processes should strengthen trustees' and leaders' planning and resourcing decisions.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • 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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance
  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 

7 Recommendation

ERO and leaders agree that strengthening appraisal goal setting and further development of evaluation knowledge and processes should help sustain school improvement initiatives. 

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

15 December 2016

About the school 

Location

Hastings

Ministry of Education profile number

2681

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

257

Gender composition

Female 55%, Male 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Pacific
Asian
Other ethnic groups

14%
64%
10%
  9%
  3%

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

15 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

January 2014
December 2010
December 2007