St Joseph's School (Nelson)

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School Context

St Joseph’s School (Nelson) is an integrated school providing a Catholic education for students from Years 1 to 8 in Nelson. At the time of this review it had 393 students from a diverse range of cultures.

The school’s vision and values are for students to ‘have life and have it to the full’ and that the values of caring for ourselves, others and the world are demonstrated by the school community being the heart and hands of Jesus.

The school’s strategic and annual goals are for:

  • students to develop spirituality in accordance with Catholic teaching
  • teachers to support students to grow their knowledge, skills and dispositions to reach their full potential
  • students to progress and achieve
  • everyone to be valued and included, and for diversity to be respected and celebrated
  • educationally powerful partnerships with families/whānau to be built.

leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:To know about the school’s performance against these goals,

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets

  • outcomes for students with additional learning needs, including gifted and talented students

  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets, such as attitude and engagement in learning in mathematics.

Since the last review, a new principal, deputy principal, board chair and several new trustees have been appointed.

The school belongs to the Kāhui Ako ki Whakatū | Nelson City Community of Learning (CoL).

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 effectively achieving equitable outcomes for most of its students in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement levels have been consistently high over several years.

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

Leaders and teachers can clearly show they have significantly accelerated the progress of those Māori students and other students who had not reached the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.

Overall, most of the students who have not reached the school’s expectations have made accelerated progress in mathematics, some in reading and the majority in writing.

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?

Relationships at all levels are caring and respectful. Students have a strong sense of belonging to the school. There are close connections between the school, parish and students’ homes, that support learning and teaching programmes across the school. Students ERO spoke with said they feel safe, included and cared for by each other and their teachers.

Students benefit from a broad curriculum underpinned by the school’s special Catholic character and are increasingly taking responsibility for their learning. Children can talk about their achievement, set goals towards their next learning steps and confidently seek help when it is needed. They know the school’s vision and values, which are enacted in the daily life of the school.

Teachers provide a collaborative, inclusive learning environment. They know their students and families well. Students who need extra help to succeed have programmes tailored to meet their needs and are closely tracked and monitored. These students become a focus of teachers as they inquire into the effectiveness of their own practice on outcomes for students. Students for whom English is a second language, are well supported by a specialist teacher to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for their learning.

Teachers have participated in a range of in-depth professional learning and development (PLD) programmes which have significantly and positively impacted on their teaching practice. These programmes include developing culturally responsive pedagogy, religious education and mathematics. Teachers are reflective practitioners, with a strong improvement focus. They are open to change that they can see will lead to positive outcomes for students. They need to continue to gather student voice to ensure equity for all.

Leaders and teachers have effective systems in place for the identification of, response to and the tracking and monitoring of progress of students who need additional support to succeed. They focus on these students particularly when they inquire into the effectiveness of their own practice. Leaders discuss the needs, specific programmes and progress of the priority learners in their syndicates and at leaders’ meetings to ensure an ongoing focus for their support.

Leaders recognise the strengths of their staff and local expertise. They promote opportunities for students to develop an awareness and appreciation of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage. Strategic PLD is supporting teachers to grow their confidence and competence as active Treaty of Waitangi partners.

Since the 2015 ERO review, the school has responded to ERO’s findings by strengthening the appraisal process and the range of information used for making overall teacher judgements about students’ achievement.

Leaders and teachers use a wide range of communication tools and means of reporting, to support and strengthen reciprocal learning-centred and faith-based relationships with parents, families and the wider community.

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

The board, leaders and teachers now need to:

  • further develop a shared understanding of internal evaluation and implement a rigorous process of evaluation in order to know what works well, why, and what does not
  • review and refine the strategic and annual plans to better show the school’s priorities and future direction
  • focus targets on accelerating the progress of students yet to reach expectations and align reporting to these.

Leaders and teachers need to strengthen and ensure the consistency of systems and practices, such as appraisal and PLD.

It would be timely for the board to:

  • continue to develop their understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities

  • put in place succession plans to ensure that systems and practices are sustainable.

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.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

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

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance 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 caring and respectful relationships at all levels

  • the provision of a broad curriculum underpinned by the school’s special Catholic character

  • the provision for students who need extra help to succeed.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening internal evaluation processes and practices

  • reviewing and refining the strategic and annual plans to better show the school’s priorities and future direction

  • continuing to grow trustees’ understanding of governance roles and responsibilities.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services Southern

8 March 2019

About the school

Location

Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

3221

School type

Integrated Catholic School

Full Primary (Years 0-8)

School roll

393

Gender composition

Girls: 52%

Boys: 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 10%

Pākeha 71%

Pacific 5%

Asian 12%

Other ethnicities 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

8 March 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: December 2015

Education Review: October 2012

Education Review: November 2009

Findings

St Joseph’s School (Nelson) is a state integrated Catholic school that offers education for Years 1 to 8 students. Positive respectful relationships are underpinned by a strong emphasis on Catholic values, the school’s vision and the learner qualities.

Most students are achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

The board and staff take all reasonable steps to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students, parents and the community.

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 School (Nelson) gives prominence to its Catholic character, vision and values in all aspects of the school’s life. Positive and respectful working relationships between students and with teachers are actively fostered, with a strong focus on student wellbeing.

There has been a steady growth in the number of students from diverse cultures requiring extra language support. This has been well resourced by the board.

There are effective levels of communication and consultation with parents and the community in the life of the school. Students and teachers are increasingly using digital technologies to enhance students’ learning at school and at home. These practices have contributed to greater participation by parents.

The school has successfully addressed some aspects of the recommendations from the 2012 ERO review. This includes planning for Māori students to succeed as Māori and some aspects of evaluation particularly by the board and staff.

2 Learning

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

The school makes very good use of student achievement information to promote positive learning outcomes for all students.

Students at risk of not achieving positive outcomes in their learning are well supported. Teachers identify specific learning targets, plans and programmes to meet the needs of these students. The progress of students is regularly monitored and reported to the board. Senior leaders effectively evaluate students' learning outcomes and programmes. This is supporting the board to make informed decisions to provide extra resourcing.

The school has a purposeful and well-planned focus to provide extra programmes of learning for more able and gifted students. The school should consider cultural giftedness to ensure those students’ skills and talents are recognised.

There is a strong focus on oral language development across the school. This includes the provision of authentic learning experiences to support oral language development in meaningful ways.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students' learning. It is well designed and responsive to students' learning needs with strong links to the New Zealand Curriculum.

An innovative feature of the curriculum is the creative way the school’s values have been reflected in the ‘Learners Qualities’ that encompass the key competencies. The values are consistently used to underpin planned learning programmes, support self, peer and students' assessments, and to develop students’ skills in managing their learning.

Other positive features of the school’s curriculum include:

  • a strong focus building and empowering students’ confidence as learners and communicators
  • an emphasis on literacy, mathematics and religious education
  • a bicultural perspective integrated in the curriculum, classroom programmes and at a strategic level
  • the good use of community expertise to enhance the learning programmes for students.

Teachers are highly reflective. Evaluation is focused on improving teaching practice. They model care and respect for one another, and for students. The work and professionalism of teacher aides is highly valued and well used to support positive outcomes for students in classrooms.

Students are well supported to become self managing, confident and capable learners. Most students are achieving at and above National Standard expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.

Parents receive detailed information in reports and interviews about how well students are progressing and achieving in all areas of the curriculum. The next step for teachers is to ensure they consistently include suggestions for parents to support their children’s learning at home.

Areas for review and development

Leaders and teachers need to strengthen their curriculum reviews by including a greater range of sources of information such as the views of students and parents.

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

The board's strategic approach is supporting educational success for Māori, as Māori. The board has set clear expectations for teachers to support and promote Māori language, culture and identity.

There are guidelines in the curriculum that identify culturally responsive practices to support teachers to work with students and whānau. The school has developed a scaffolded te reo Māori and tikanga Māori programme to foster all students’ knowledge and understanding about bicultural Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Reporting of Māori achievement is difficult because of the small number of Māori students at the school. Making use of in-committee procedures will support the board in its open discussions.

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.

The skilled and committed board make good use of external professional development to build the capacity of trustees’ stewardship roles and responsibilities. Trustees have recently reviewed and revised the school’s charter in consultation with the community to strengthen strategic planning. There is a clear alignment between the school’s vision and values and planning that provides future focused direction for the school.

The board makes good use of parent and student survey information to make improvements to school practices. Trustees effectively use evaluation to identify strengths and next steps of their performance to improve learning outcomes for students.

The principal and senior leaders work well together to enable and empower teachers to continually build on their expertise. There is good provision for professional development for all staff. The process teachers are using to critically reflect on their practice is contributing to improving teacher practice and raising student achievement.

Areas for review and development

ERO has identified, and the board agrees, the next steps to improve learning outcomes for students are:

  • to strengthen the appraisal system by more formally documenting the process for each appraisee
  • ensuring that National Standard targets developed for groups of students most at risk of not achieving are shared with the board, included in the strategic plan, and reported regularly.

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 School (Nelson) is a state integrated Catholic school that offers education for Years 1 to 8 students. Positive respectful relationships are underpinned by a strong emphasis on Catholic values, the school’s vision and the learner qualities.

Most students are achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

The board and staff take all reasonable steps to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students, parents and the community.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

15 December 2015

School Statistics

Location

Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

3221

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

343

Gender composition

Girls 181; Boys 162

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Samoan

Cook Island

Asian

Other ethnicities

73%

9%

4%

1%

12%

1%

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

15 December 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2012

November 2009

September 2006