Sacred Heart School (Reefton)

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School Context

Sacred Heart School (Reefton) is a state integrated Catholic primary school with 39 children in Years 1 to 8.

The special character of the school is supported by its vision statement ‘Setting high expectations and fostering a love of life-long learning, in a caring, respectful Catholic environment’. This is underpinned by the ‘CHOICE Catholic Coaster’ values of students being Capable, Helpful, Organised, Inclusive, Caring and Engaged.

2019 student achievement targets focused on accelerating the learning of students at risk of not achieving in reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the April 2015 ERO review there has been significant roll growth. A number of ongoing changes to leadership and staff have occurred. The current principal started at the school in mid-2019. Experienced and newly elected trustees make up the board.

The school is a member of the Mawhera Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning. Recent professional development has focused on the digital curriculum.

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?

Achievement information for 2017 and 2018 indicates that most students, including Māori students, achieve at or above the school’s curriculum expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.

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

The school is yet to clearly identify and report how well learning is accelerated for students at risk. New processes and systems are being established to show a clearer picture of achievement and progress.

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?

The special Catholic character provides a foundation for building ongoing relationships and support within the school community. Classroom practices, including prayer and devotions, appropriately promote the schoolwide valued outcomes. Respectful relationships are clearly evident.

Well-established classroom routines promote focused learning environments. Students are engaged in their learning and talk confidently about their learning. Teachers use effective strategies to support students’ engagement and learning. Students work collaboratively, responding positively to a range of learning opportunities.

Learners with additional needs are appropriately identified and well supported. The board generously funds resources to assist these children. External expertise supports this provision.

New leadership provides a well-considered and strongly improvement-focused approach. Useful information is being gathered to inform developments going forward.

The board actively represents and serves the school and community in its stewardship role. Trustees bring a range of skills to the board. They demonstrate a strong commitment to the ongoing promotion of the school and the long-term success of learners.

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

In response to recent leadership and staff changes, the school is working towards developing effective systems and processes for sustainable, improvement-focused school operation.

Systems and processes are being established to ensure that achievement information is dependable, consistent and well analysed. This should enable the school to clearly show the progress and achievement of all students and promote acceleration for those students who need it. Tracking and reporting of this during the year should promote a more deliberate and responsive approach to achieving equity and excellence.

The school has identified that its curriculum needs review and development. ERO’s evaluation supports this direction. This revised documentation should better reflect and guide current practice, priorities and initiatives A clearer focus on the local context and the bicultural nature of Aotearoa New Zealand is required. Further consultation with students, families and whānau should inform the curriculum. Ensuring a culturally responsive curriculum for Māori learners should also be clearly articulated, based on a shared vision of success for Māori, as determined by whānau and iwi aspirations..

The new leader is appropriately prioritising actions for improvement and actively gathering a range of useful information to inform decisions. Once processes, systems and initiatives are put in place, developing a shared understanding and use of internal evaluation will be a useful next step. This should better inform all stakeholders about what has the most significant impact on raising achievement and support continued development.

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.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

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

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success 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:

  • the special Catholic character that provides a foundation for building ongoing relationships that promote student participation and engagement
  • well-established classroom routines that promote focused learning
  • a well-considered and strongly improvement-focused leadership approach
  • trustees who demonstrate a strong commitment to the long-term success of learners.

Next steps

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

  • establishing systems and processes to ensure that achievement information is dependable, consistent and well analysed
  • reviewing and developing the school’s localised curriculum to better reflect and guide current practice, priorities and initiatives
  • developing and using internal evaluation processes to know what has the most significant impact on raising achievement, and to support continued development.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to:

  • consultation with the school community regarding the health curriculum.

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

  1. 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 60B Education Act 1989]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should strengthen:

  • the documentation of hazards
  • processes in relation to in-committee minutes.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

18 December 2019

About the school

Location

Reefton

Ministry of Education profile number

3219

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

39

Gender composition

Boys 24, Girls 15

Ethnic composition

Māori 2

NZ European/Pākehā 37

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

October 2019

Date of this report

18 December 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review April 2015

Education Review May 2012

Findings

The school has strong, supportive, and close connections to the parish and wider community. Students achieve well in reading, mathematics and less well in writing. Teachers have high expectations for learning and behaviour. The board is supportive of the principal and staff.

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?

This small, integrated school in Reefton provides students and families with a positive and supportive place to learn. The school’s Catholic values and qualities of a successful learner foster students' wellbeing and promote their learning. The school has close connections with the parish and wider community.

At the time of this review, an acting principal was leading the school. The board has been unable to source a permanent appointment. The current roll is stable.

School buildings have recently been refurbished and strengthened. Teachers are developing good links with preschools and outside agencies.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the board has made good progress with most of the recommendations from this report. Self review, identified as an area for further development, still requires strengthening.

2 Learning

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

The school’s information shows that children achieve well in reading and mathematics and less well in writing.

The acting principal and teachers regularly gather and discuss a suitable range of assessment information to support their judgements about student achievement and progress against the National Standards. This is particularly evident in the way they share examples of students’ writing and make decisions about student progress and their next learning steps.

Teachers have high expectations for learning and behaviour. They are focused on meeting students' needs by:

  • using a range of strategies to engage students

  • continuously planning for individual and group needs

  • using individual goal setting to focus students on their learning needs

  • giving regular feedback to students.

The school’s well-organised and wide range of resources, help support programmes and enable staff to be responsive to the needs of students. Additional support provided by a teacher aide is relevant, purposeful and is directly linked to areas where teachers have concerns about student progress.

Teachers make good use of external support to help them increase the levels of progress for students with additional learning needs.

Parents receive good information about their child’s achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics against the National Standards.

Areas for review and development

Teachers provide students with many opportunities to learn. They now need to provide further opportunities for students to be able to lead their learning in order to promote greater student independence.

The acting principal keeps the board well informed about school events and progress against the strategic plan. The principal should now increase interim reporting to the board on student achievement particularly for priority learners, in relation to the annual targets.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is most effective in promoting student achievement in reading and mathematics. It is strongly linked to the local environment and the school’s bicultural focus. The special character underpins all aspects of students’ learning.

The school now has useful guidelines in relation to the curriculum. These include:

  • a well-established vision with rich and strongly held values

  • sound and commonly held beliefs about teaching and learning

  • useful expectations for teachers in delivering the curriculum to students

Teachers use expertise from the local community to provide students with rich and varied learning experiences.

Area for review and development

The acting principal and staff are preparing to consult with students and the community about the content of the curriculum’s learning areas. They need to use this information linked with up-to-date teaching practices to develop specific guidelines for each curriculum area to ensure that a rich, varied and balanced curriculum is provided for all students.

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

The school promotes positive learning outcomes for Māori students.

Māori students achieve at similar rates to their peers. Teachers provide an increasing number of activities that promote success for Māori as Māori such as kapa haka, waiata, opportunities to visit a marae, have local Māori with expertise to teach children and staff te reo and tikanga Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance within a changing environment.

The board is well run and organised. Trustees provide good support for the principal and staff. The strengths of each trustee are recognised and valued. The board is developing good systems to govern the school. There is a cooperative and collaborative approach amongst the board, teaching team and parish.

Good-quality teacher appraisal is used to affirm effective practice and identify areas for further development.

Areas for review and development

The board, principal and ERO agree that the next steps for the school to improve sustainability and build capability and capacity include:

  • strengthening the principal’s appraisal to ensure there is more regular and critical feedback to act upon

  • improving self-review procedures to ensure strategic and curriculum reviews are regularly undertaken

  • developing anonymous board surveys for students, staff, and parents.

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

The school has strong, supportive, and close connections to the parish and wider community. Students achieve well in reading, mathematics and less well in writing. Teachers have high expectations for learning and behaviour. The board is supportive of the principal and staff.

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

About the School

Location

Reefton

Ministry of Education profile number

3219

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

25

Gender composition

Girls 12; Boys13

Ethnic composition

Pakeha
Maori

21
  4

Special Features

Special Character

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

21 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

2012
2011
2007