Sacred Heart School (Timaru)

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1 Context

Sacred Heart School (Timaru) is a full Catholic primary school. The school roll has increased over the last three years and is now more culturally diverse, including children whose first language is not English. The board, school community and local parish enjoy a close working relationship. School staffing has been stable.

Sacred Heart school works closely with early learning services and the nearby Catholic college to support transitions into and on from school. It is part of the South Canterbury Catholic Community of Learning.

Over the last four years teachers and students have benefited from Ministry of Education professional learning to raise student achievement in mathematics.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are for children to be ‘happy, considerate, active learners striving for excellence equipped for the future with hearts open to God and growing in their Catholic faith’. The school’s motto ‘Heart for Living and Heart for Learning’ links the school values and vision with its charism.

The school’s achievement information shows that, in the past three years, just over three-quarters of all children were achieving at or above the National Standards in reading. Over this same time approximately two-thirds of all children were achieving at this level in writing and mathematics. End-of-2015 and mid-2016 information shows that this proportion has increased for writing and mathematics. The majority of Māori children are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. However, the school has further work to do to achieve equitable outcomes for Māori children in reading, writing and mathematics. The school is able to show that Māori students who had not achieved these National Standards in 2015 are better placed to do so in 2016.

Since the last ERO evaluation, the school has:

  • focused curriculum development on mathematics, writing and digital literacy
  • developed improved systems for tracking and monitoring individual children’s achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics, with a focus on priority learners
  • improved assessment practices to support valid and reliable overall-teacher judgements in relation to the National Standards. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

This school responds effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school has strengthened its systems for identifying, tracking and monitoring the progress and achievement of all children who are at risk of not achieving the National Standards. 

Teachers use a wide range of learning information to quickly identify children needing extra support. These children receive additional and targeted teaching within classroom programmes. They also benefit from specific learning interventions delivered out-of-class by teachers, teacher aides and specialist teachers. The school's information shows that these interventions are effective in accelerating the progress of children needing to improve in their learning.

Leaders and teachers regularly review these children's progress and achievement and discuss how they can support their continued progress. They actively seek advice and guidance from external specialists and investigate new and innovative approaches to supporting children's learning.

Māori children who need to make accelerated progress are well supported. Leaders and teachers are building strong learning-centred partnerships with Māori whānau.

Children with high needs are very well supported to achieve relevant, individualised goals and to participate fully in the life of the school. Children who speak English as a second language receive targeted support to fully participate in classroom programmes and make the necessary progress with their learning.

The board of trustees is highly committed to achieving equitable outcomes for all children and prioritises funding for additional learning support.

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?

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes equity and excellence for all children. The curriculum is well developed and designed to reflect the New Zealand Curriculum, the school's values and vision, biculturalism and the Catholic special character. It supports children to be involved in rich and varied learning opportunities across the breadth of the curriculum.

There is a planned and systematic focus on flexible, responsive learning approaches. Teachers specifically plan to respond to the interests and needs of individual children. Parents have many opportunities to be partners in their children's learning. As a result, children see themselves as successful learners and are highly engaged in their learning.

Children's ideas and opinions are sought by teachers and contribute to the positive school culture. Children have a good understanding of how well they are learning and what they need to do to improve.

Increasing use of digital technology is motivating children and strengthening communication between the children, their families and the community.

Leaders and teachers collaborate effectively with a strong focus on positive outcomes for children. There is a sustained commitment to ongoing improvement which is well supported by:

  • rigorous appraisal
  • effective professional development
  • high quality teaching-as-inquiry practices.

There are good systems, processes and guidelines to support school governance. Trustees are very supportive of the principal and staff. They make effective use of training opportunities and external resources to support their decision-making.

More comprehensive analysis, evaluation and reporting of sufficiency of children’s progress overall and for specific groups will supplement the school’s already well-developed inquiry processes.

Next Steps

To continue school improvement, trustees, leaders and teachers now need to:

  • ensure the school’s charter targets better reflect the deliberate focus on accelerating progress of priority learners
  • more deeply analyse and report on the sufficiency of progress of all children
  • extend internal evaluation practices through the use of a clear evaluation framework that focuses on and records `how well' aspects of the school are functioning
  • continue to strengthen moderation practices across the school and to include the breadth of the curriculum.

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.

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

To continue to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners, ERO recommends the school acts on the next steps identified in this report.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Te Waipounamu Southern

22 December 2016

About the school 

Location

Timaru

Ministry of Education profile number

3498

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

200

Gender composition

Girls 54%; Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Filipino

Indian

Other ethnicities

81%

9%

3%

3%

4%

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

22 December 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2013

November 2009

April 2007

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Sacred Heart School is a Years 1-8 school in central Timaru. Its Catholic special character and the values that teachers promote are very evident in its respectful school culture.

ERO spoke with several groups of older students. These students were very positive about their school. They felt that their teachers cared about their learning and that Sacred Heart is a friendly school. They also appreciated the many opportunities for leadership, sports and community service.

Teachers work well as a team and show a strong commitment to their work and ongoing learning. They work closely with parents and keep them well informed about students’ learning. The school is well supported by its parents and the local parish community.

2 Learning

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

Overall, teachers and leaders in the school make good use of student achievement information to support students’ learning.

Findings

Most students can talk about their next learning steps and/or learning goals. Students share learning journals, with samples of work and assessments, with their parents. Senior students talk confidently about how well they are achieving and show the evidence for this. These students lead the conferences with their parents about their progress and achievement.

In classrooms, teachers make very good use of learning information to identify and monitor the progress of students who need extra help. ERO saw excellent examples of day-to-day assessment, especially in the junior school. This led to teachers adapting their teaching to the needs of individual children. Through a variety of ways, such as student-led meetings, journals with assessment samples, reports, and electronic media, parents receive useful information about their children’s learning. This includes constructive ideas as to how they can support their children.

Within each syndicate, teachers frequently discuss the learning needs of individuals and groups of students and seek ways to enhance their learning. Syndicate leaders and teachers are very aware of school targets to raise the achievement of identified students. Through the year, they monitor carefully these students’ progress.

ERO observed students learning in settled and well-managed classrooms. Teachers are very focused on lifting students’ achievement in writing and mathematics. This can be seen in classroom programmes, and in teachers’ professional learning and discussions.

School information for 2012 indicates that 74% of students achieve at or above National Standards in reading. For mathematics and written language, 55% are at or above the National Standards. The school has set targets for 2013 to lift achievement in these areas.

Trustees are very focused on how well students progress and achieve. They receive regular reports about students’ progress towards the targets. They use this and other achievement information well when making resourcing decisions. Over the last three years, the board has provided significant funding to support target groups and other students.

Area for Review and Development

Some aspects of target setting and reporting on student achievement could be improved. Targets and related reports need to be more specific in their wording. This will make it easier for the school to show what difference the teachers have made in helping students reach the National Standards and other school goals.

3 Curriculum

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

The school's curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. However, some aspects need to be strengthened.

Findings

Since the 2009 ERO review, teachers have reviewed their guidelines for most learning areas. Completed documents now align with the school’s vision, current teaching practice and the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

Students enjoy a wide range of learning experiences. Teachers emphasise supporting the ‘whole person’. This is evident in the religious education, regular physical activity, and social service. Older students spoke enthusiastically about the opportunities to support and act as role models for younger students.

Since the previous ERO review, the school has made huge progress in how teachers and students use information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning. Senior students told ERO how much they appreciate having access to a greater range of educational ICT resources in class and at home.

Teachers are very reflective in their work. They constantly look for ways to improve what they do, and are responsive to new ideas and professional learning. They often share their expertise with one and another. For example, the teacher responsible for te reo Māori supports other teachers in this area through regular lessons and useful resources.

Area for Review and Development

The school has taken time and care in the review of its curriculum documents. It now needs to complete the review of the outstanding learning areas. Teachers would also benefit from more detailed guidelines as to how integrated-theme studies are delivered.

When the review of guidelines and expectations is complete, the school will need to implement regular review of how well:

  • each learning area is resourced and implemented
  • teaching and learning expectations are met
  • students are supported to make decisions about what and how they learn
  • Māori perspectives are integrated into different learning areas and in all classes.

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

Māori students told ERO that there is a greater valuing of their culture and language in the school now. Some Māori students have been identified as leaders. They have been given opportunities to grow and share their expertise in te reo Māori and cultural activities. These students expressed excitement and pride in being able to teach others.

Throughout the school, Māori students are well supported in their learning. Their progress and achievement is closely monitored. Students who have arrived from other schools have been made to feel welcome and valued.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Overall, the school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Findings

Since the 2009 ERO review, there have been few changes in the teaching staff. Teachers share resources, help each other and show a strong commitment to their work. They are very well supported by their syndicate leaders.

The appraisal system has greatly improved and is now more rigorous. ERO saw some examples of detailed feedback to teachers. Teachers have useful individual and school-wide professional goals.

Trustees are well informed about school events and operations. They are strongly focused on supporting student learning and the Catholic character of the school. These priorities influence their decision making and are very evident in their meeting records. They regularly survey staff, parents and students to gather their views.

Area for Review and Development

ERO and the principal agree that the next steps are to:

  • improve self-review and the usefulness of the school’s strategic and annual plans
  • better show how the school responds to staff, student and parent feedback
  • In particular, the school needs to develop guidelines and other resources for effective self review.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

16 July 2013

About the School

Location

Timaru

Ministry of Education profile number

3498

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

174

Gender composition

Girls 58% Boys: 42%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Filipino

Pacific

Other

80%

10%

4%

1%

5%

Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

16 July 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2009

April 2007

January 2004