St Brigids School (Tainui)

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1 Context

Children learn in five multilevel classrooms in this Catholic primary school. The school has had a stable roll over the last three years. There has been little change in leadership and staffing in the school in recent years. The school is well supported by an active parent-teacher association which contributes funding to a range of education-outside-the-classroom (EOTC) experiences, and to classroom refurbishment. The school grounds include interesting and varied areas for play and physical activity which provide for different levels of challenge. The school is governed by a mix of experienced and new trustees.

2 Equity and excellence

The school's vision is to 'provide a Catholic education in a family environment where gospel values are at the heart of teaching and learning'. It aims to challenge every child 'to reach their full potential and to lead active and purposeful lives’. Through its curriculum, the school aims to help children develop and demonstrate the values of respect, responsibility, cooperation, forgiveness, acceptance and self-motivation.

The school's achievement information shows that a high proportion of children (more than 85%) have achieved the National Standards in reading and mathematics over the last three years. The proportion achieving the National Standards in writing is lower (by about 10%).

Māori children in this school are achieving at similar levels to their peers . The school has identified disparity in achievement by boys in writing and it has focused on addressing this in annual planning and targeted action.

Teachers use a range of assessment tools and practices to help make overall-teacher judgements about children's achievement. In particular, they have reviewed and strengthened processes for the moderation of their judgements for achievement in writing. The next steps are to:

  • better document their practices for making and moderating judgements about achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • improve systems for collating a wide range of evidence to support overall-teacher judgements
  • consider how they are making and moderating judgements about children's achievement in learning areas other than reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the last ERO evaluation, the school has made progress on most areas identified for improvement. Some of this work needs to be further extended. This includes:

  • documenting those aspects of teaching and learning yet to be covered in current written guidelines
  • making self-review practices more evaluative.

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.

Teachers make good use of learning information to identify each child needing additional support. They use this information to design targeted extra learning programmes for Māori children and all other children needing to make accelerated progress. Programmes address a wide range of needs including spelling, reading, writing, mathematics, fine-motor skill development and perceptual-motor development. They are generally delivered by experienced, skilled teacher aides. Teachers and teacher aides plan collaboratively how to provide support for those children needing to accelerate their progress. The school's information shows that children participating in these programmes demonstrate:

  • increased confidence in their ability to learn
  • improved levels of engagement with learning tasks
  • improved levels of achievement.

Teachers regularly review children's progress and evaluate whether programmes are working or if they need to change. They make good use of their knowledge of individual children's interests and strengths to engage and motivate children for learning. They have regular communication with parents and whānau about children's progress and achievement, and children's next learning steps.

Teachers also use learning information to identify groups of children not achieving as well as expected. In response, they set school-wide targets that focus on these children and work together to identify effective strategies to better support children's learning. For example, the recent focus has been boys' achievement in writing. Teachers have:

  • provided engaging topics and authentic contexts to build boys' motivation to write
  • addressed barriers to learning such as poor handwriting skills
  • used digital solutions to help children develop and share their ideas when writing.

Teachers research and trial new approaches they believe will improve outcomes for children. They work collaboratively to make children's experiences in writing engaging and more successful.

Trustees receive reports on how well children are progressing as a result of learning support programmes and plans. They use these reports to inform their resourcing decisions.

The next steps for the school are to:

  • develop better systems for tracking, collating and analysing children's progress and rates of progress over time
  • review the clarity of reporting to children and their parents about progress in relation to the National Standards
  • ensure the annual student achievement targets are specific and measurable.

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 and other practices effectively promote equity and excellence for all children. The board and principal have consulted the school's community about the strategic direction for the school. There are clear links from the school's vision to strategic goals, annual planning, professional development for staff, appraisal, and teaching and learning.

The school's special character and Catholic values are highly evident in relationships, practices and the school environment. Children told ERO that they experience positive and respectful relationships with other children and adults. Junior children appreciate the support and guidance of their senior `buddies'. Older children interact positively with younger children in a range of ways in both their learning and their play. The school's values are actively modelled, taught and celebrated. Trustees, teachers and parents report a strong sense of community support, with a focus on the wellbeing of children, families and staff.

Increasing use is being made of digital technology to support children's learning. Teachers and children are using digital devices effectively to share their learning with each other and with their parents. This has led to increased levels of engagement with parents in children's day-to-day learning.

For Māori learners, teachers place a particular focus on:

  • knowing each Māori learner as an individual
  • responding well to the expectations of whānau
  • bringing their culture to the classroom and sharing their knowledge with other children and teachers.
  • The school is continuing to build its practices for learning about and responding to the aspirations of Māori children and their whānau.

Teachers have strengthened the way they integrate learning about New Zealand's bicultural heritage throughout the curriculum. Children regularly experience te reo Māori and learn about and participate in aspects of te ao Māori within learning programmes and as a part of normal routines. Teachers have identified that they want to further strengthen these aspects of children's learning.

Leadership is making good use of teachers' strengths, building a culture of collaboration, and developing leadership for staff. Together, staff members are building learning-centred relationships with families for the benefit of each child. The recent school-wide focus on improving writing led to new, shared understandings about how to teach and assess writing. Teachers collaborate effectively to plan and deliver learning programmes and share good practices. There is evidence of ongoing and collaborative informal review of many aspects of teaching and learning.

Trustees have taken well-considered actions to plan for improvement and to scrutinise progress towards expected learning and wellbeing outcomes. They:

  • expect reports about school-wide progress of all children, with clear information about children needing acceleration
  • are well connected to the school's wider community
  • are using their knowledge and expertise to clarify the board's processes in response to legislative changes to health and safety, and personnel management.

Next steps for improvement are to:

  • extend current documented guidelines for teaching and learning to reflect current best practice and expected practice
  • include regular curriculum review in the board's yearly work plan
  • document shared understandings of how trustees are to carry out their roles and responsibilities
  • develop guidelines that outline the process and expectations for internal evaluation at all levels.

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.

Teachers make good use of their knowledge of individual children and their inquiry into what is needed to improve children's learning. They work collaboratively to bring about sustainable improvements. The principal, trustees and teachers regularly consider what is working and what needs further improvement. As the trustees, leaders and teachers strengthen the rigour and depth of their evaluative processes, they will be more effectively assured about the quality and sustainability of their systems for ongoing improvement.

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, the school should act on the next steps identified in this report.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Te Waipounamu/Southern

14 March 2017

About the school 

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3820

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

102

Gender composition

Female 54%; Male 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

Other ethnicities

10%

72%

12%

5%

1%

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

14 March 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2013

October 2010

August 2007



1 Context

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

St Brigid's School (Tainui) is a Catholic integrated school for students from Years 1 to 6. An increasing number of students with different cultural backgrounds and languages attend the school. New students are made to feel welcome and quickly integrate into the daily life of the school.

The school’s special character and Christian values are very evident throughout the school. Students’ learning is enhanced through the frequent opportunities they have to be part of the wider parish community. The positive school culture is strongly grounded in the respectful and supportive relationships that exist between students and adults. Students spoken to by ERO described their school as friendly, kind and caring and said that learning was fun. They strongly believed that their teachers cared about them and their learning. Students enjoy the many opportunities they have to be supported by their peers. Tuakana-teina relationships between students are encouraged through the school’s buddy system where older students help younger students.

Students are well supported to learn in attractive, well resourced and print-rich classrooms. This includes displayed prompts to help them with their learning. A focus on caring for the environment is important in the daily life of the school and in specific learning programmes. This has been recognised through the Enviro-schools’ awards scheme.

There is a very collaborative approach to supporting students’ learning and wellbeing. The board and teachers share a collective responsibility for all children. Students benefit from the help parents provide with learning programmes. The principal continues to play an active role as a classroom teacher.

Students are encouraged to participate in physical activity including sports. They enjoy significant success in local and regional competitions. These and other successes are celebrated.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is very effectively used to make positive changes for students’ learning.

Students are enthusiastic about their learning. They have ongoing conversations with their teachers about their progress and achievement. Students, especially in senior classes, work closely with their teachers to identify and understand their next learning steps. Senior students regularly assess their own and their peer’s work.

Teachers use a wide range of assessment information very well to identify students with particular learning needs. They carefully plan and adapt their teaching programmes to better meet the needs of individuals and small groups of students. The progress of these students is monitored over time. ERO observed some outstanding examples of students receiving specific oral and written feedback and next steps from their teachers.

Senior leaders examine and reflect on students’ assessment information. From this they determine the success of programmes, target resources and identify strengths and needs throughout the school. The principal collates student achievement information and frequently reports this to the board. The board uses this information well when making resourcing decisions.

Areas for review and development

Better use could be made of school-wide student achievement information to:

  • identify trends and patterns over time
  • more closely track and report on the progress of groups of students receiving targeted support
  • clearly identify and report how well other key groups are supported, achieving and progressing. For example, students receiving additional English language support, those participating in extension programmes and other groups of students with particular learning needs.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. The school’s information shows that three quarters of students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. ERO visited a sample of classrooms and observed good to high quality teaching.

Students’ learning is enhanced by using local features and resources as contexts for learning and the way in which the school’s special character is integrated into daily learning. This can be seen in the way that:

  • the school’s Catholic values are central to all aspects of school life
  • students are increasingly involved in decisions about what and how they learn
  • students are involved in meaningful learning experiences, such as parents’ workplaces, penguin habitat development and the local environment.

Students benefit from the:

  • way in which information and communication technologies (ICT) have been developed and are now extensively used to support their learning and teachers’ practice
  • way teachers recognise and build on students’ individual strengths
  • high expectations teachers have for them and their learning
  • way in which the school has worked to involve parents in their children’s learning.

The school provides extensive resourcing and support for students who are not reaching the National Standards. This includes using trained, experienced and competent teacher aides. This support has resulted in many of these students making accelerated progress towards achieving at the National Standards.

Students and teachers have benefited from teachers participating in purposeful professional learning in writing and mathematics. This has helped teachers to reflect, evaluate and improve their teaching practice. Senior leaders and teachers are currently reviewing the school’s inquiry approach to learning.

Areas for review and development

It is timely for the school to:

  • review and revise its expectations for high quality teaching and learning to better reflect current priorities
  • develop guidelines indicating how the inquiry-learning approach will be implemented
  • develop more rigorous processes for reviewing teaching and learning. For example, how well current programmes and practices are meeting students’ needs.

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

Māori students are achieving as well as their non-Māori peers. Māori students spoke very positively to ERO about their teachers and their school. These students felt well supported in their learning and that teachers noticed and went out of their way to develop students’ strengths. In response to parents’ wishes, the school has introduced a kapa haka group which enables all students to enjoy an aspect of Māori culture. The religious education programme strongly values Māori perspectives and language.

Next steps

The school should:

  • work with Māori whānau to clarify and record what success for their children, as Māori, will look like and how the school will achieve this
  • improve the inclusion of te reo Māori and a Māori dimension in all students’ day-to-day learning.

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

The school is welcoming an increasing number of Pacific students and families. Pacific students also spoke very positively to ERO about their teachers and their school. These students felt well supported in their learning and that teachers noticed and went out of their way to develop students’ strengths.

Next step

To develop and implement a formal plan as to how the school supports Pacific students.

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 board bases all of its decisions on what will best support students’ learning. It is made up of capable and some experienced trustees who have a good understanding of effective governance. New trustees have benefited from ongoing guidance from other trustees and board training workshops. Through wide consultation the school has developed a useful strategic and annual plan which reflects the current priorities. The annual plan is now regularly monitored and progress reported. Very positive relationships exist between trustees, the principal and teachers. Aspects of effective review are evident through regular consultation, surveying and review of policies and procedures.

Areas for review and development

The principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that the school’s performance management system should be reviewed and improved.

A shared understanding of effective self review needs to be established and clearly documented. This should include:

  • what is to be reviewed and the information to be collected
  • indicators of success to be measured against
  • in-depth analysis that leads to a judgement about the quality of what is being reviewed
  • results being used for decision making and improved student outcomes
  • sufficient records of outcomes and decisions made to support progress over time and inform future reviews.

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.

To improve current practice the board of trustees should ensure that all education outside the classroom (EOTC) activities are supported by relevant risk analyses. This was identified in the 2010 ERO report.

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

8 November 2013

About the School

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3820

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

109

Gender composition

Girls: 60% Boys: 40%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other ethnicities

65%

7%

7%

11%

10%

Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

8 November 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2010

August 2007

August 2004