St Mary's School (Gore)

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Education institution number:
4018
School type:
Contributing
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
206
Telephone:
Address:

14 Ardwick Street, Gore

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School Context

St Mary’s School (Gore) is a Years 1 to 6 Catholic school. It has a roll of 185 children. An increasing number come from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The school is guided by Mercy values and the Catholic virtues of faith, hope and love.

The school’s current goals are to continue to strengthen teachers’ understanding and use of:

  • new assessment tools and practices

  • inquiry into how to best support children who need extra help with their learning

  • digital technology to improve teaching and learning.

Charter goals also include an ongoing focus on how to best support Māori learners and build teachers’ understanding of Māori culture, values and local history.

The school’s 2018 achievement targets are to accelerate the progress of any child who is below expected levels in reading and mathematics. Another target is for a small group of Years 3 and 5 children to accelerate their achievement in literacy. This target is an Eastern Southland Kāhui Ako| Community of Learning (CoL) target. The school is part of this CoL and the principal is the CoL leader.

Leaders report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

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 very effective in achieving excellent and equitable outcomes for its children in literacy and mathematics. Over the last three years, over 80% of children have achieved at or above expected levels in these areas. Achievement is particularly high in reading, with a third of the children above expected levels.

Almost all groups of children achieve equitable outcomes in literacy and mathematics. School-wide achievement at the end of 2017 for Māori and Filipino children was at similar or higher levels than their peers. However, there was some disparity for boys in writing.

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

The school is very successful in accelerating the learning of children who need extra help to achieve at expected levels. In 2017, six of the ten target children in reading and writing groups made more than expected progress and most reached their expected level.

The school was particularly successful in addressing a disparity in achievement for Māori children in 2016. As a result of intensive individual support, these children made accelerated progress and all reached expected levels by the end of 2017.

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?

Children learn in a very supportive environment. The Catholic character is strongly evident in the inclusive, caring and respectful school culture. Children know and understand the school’s values. Core Māori values, such as whanaungatanga (family-like relationships) and manaakitanga (kindness), are very evident. There is strong and constructive pastoral support for children and their families.

At all levels there is a commitment, and very effective practices, to accelerate the achievement of children who need extra help with their learning. These children are quickly identified and closely monitored by leaders and teachers. Teachers know these children well as learners, and as individuals. Through thoughtful inquiry and close collaboration with parents, they develop specific strategies to address identified needs. These practices have resulted in accelerated learning. Similarly, children with additional needs are very well supported in their learning.

School leaders have built very effective partnerships to support children’s wellbeing and learning. Parents are well informed about their children’s progress and achievement and regularly join in school activities and celebrations. Leaders and teachers work very closely with a range of external experts and agencies to help individual children. Over several years, the school has consulted and worked alongside local iwi to build teachers’ knowledge about the Māori world and better support individual children and families. The school has built constructive relationships with early learning services and the local Catholic secondary school, so that children experience positive transitions.

Leaders are reflective, collaborative and improvement focused. The school has made significant progress in addressing the 2014 ERO recommendations. For example, children have much better opportunities to use digital technologies and to experience a Māori dimension in their learning. The principal is consultative and has intentionally built her staff’s leadership skills. She provides sound professional leadership within and beyond the school.

The school has well-considered priorities for future development. There is strong alignment between these, the school’s strategic and annual plans and other school practices, such as professional learning. Teachers benefit from an effective and improvement-focused appraisal system. Trustees show a strong commitment to their governance role. They prioritise children in their decision making and have relevant governance skills and knowledge.

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

Some aspects of internal evaluation (self-review) need extending and deepening. Leaders need to regularly evaluate and report to the board about how well each curriculum area is enacted, and other teaching and learning priorities. Wider and better evaluation should help leaders make evidence-based judgements about what is going well, what needs strengthening and next steps for improvement.

Aspects of target setting and reporting needs to be improved. Targets should be extended to address the disparity in boys’ writing and to increase the proportion of children achieving above expected levels in writing and mathematics. Reporting to the board about progress towards meeting the targets needs to be more frequent.

ERO agrees with priorities for improvement identified by school leaders. These are to further strengthen:

  • children’s understanding of and responsibility for their learning, progress and achievement

  • teachers’ understanding and integration of te ao and te reo Māori in day-to-day learning.

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 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • caring, inclusive and respectful culture that supports children’s learning and wellbeing

  • strong leadership and effective governance that prioritises what’s best for children at all times

  • constructive relationships with parents, educational providers, experts and agencies that are leading to collaborative and well-considered decisions and actions

  • collective responsibility for and effective practices to support any child who needs extra help to succeed

  • effective strategic and annual planning for ongoing improvement.

Next steps

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

  • extending and strengthening aspects of internal evaluation to inform ongoing improvement

  • improving aspects of target setting and reporting to fully realise the school’s commitment to excellence and equity in learning

  • continuing the school’s focus on children understanding their progress and next learning steps to enable them to be successful life-long learners

  • continuing the school’s focus on building teachers’ confidence in te reo and te ao Māori.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

8 May 2018

About the school

Location

Gore

Ministry of Education profile number

4018

School type

Contributing primary (Years 1-6)

School roll

185

Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori: 9%
Pākehā: 78%
Filipino: 5%
Other: 8%

Provision of Māori medium education

None

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

8 May 2018

Most recent ERO reports – Education Reviews

November 2014
February 2012
June 2008

Findings

St Mary’s School provides well for its students. Students learn in an environment of care and respect. They achieve well. They easily talk about aspects of their learning. The school’s Catholic special character is well integrated into daily learning. Continuing to develop aspects of review will support the school further in its improvement focus.

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 Mary’s Catholic special character has a very strong impact on student learning and the day-to-day life in the school. It can be easily seen in the way people treat one another. There is a very inclusive, family-like atmosphere and a culture of care. The school has close links with the local parish.

Trustees, staff and students are welcoming and friendly. The home-school partnership is well established. Staff create many opportunities to effectively communicate with parents, whānau, the parish and wider community.

Students from Gore and the surrounding rural district attend the school. Some travel by bus. In 2014 classrooms have been restructured to ensure students learn with their year-group peers. Since the last ERO review in 2012 a new principal has been appointed. She effectively models the school’s values. The staff work well as a team. The current professional development focus is about leadership and assessment.

The school has made very good progress since the last ERO review in 2012. Teachers have reviewed how the New Zealand Curriculum principles are enacted in the school. Learning area statements have been rewritten. There has been other significant self-review activity.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that the provision of suitable classroom spaces and ICT resources is an ongoing challenge. Improvements to both will enhance students’ learning.

2 Learning

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

This school is making good use of student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Student achievement

Most students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The majority of these students are achieving at the standards. Younger students receiving reading support are making accelerated progress.

Use of student achievement information

Students have a good understanding of their role in the learning process. Specifically they know:

  • how well they are achieving
  • what they need to do to improve their learning and achievement
  • how to assess their own performance and that of their peers.

Students’ understanding about aspects of their learning is regularly sought by teachers.

Teachers use student achievement information to appropriately:

  • identify students for learning assistance
  • report learning and achievement to parents.

Teachers are making good use of student achievement information and current professional learning and development in targeting students to make accelerated progress in writing.

The principal is:

  • analysing and reporting school-wide student achievement information to the board
  • using student achievement information to encourage teachers to inquire into aspects of their teaching practice
  • using student achievement information effectively to set specific targets in the school’s charter
  • closely monitoring and reporting to the board, the progress of these targeted students through the year.

The board is increasing its confidence in interpreting and questioning the student achievement information it is presented with.

Areas for review and development

Teachers should continue to develop their understanding and use of student achievement information, particularly with reference to the National Standards.

Leaders and teachers should specifically analyse and report on the progress students are making over time. This should include progress made by specific groups of students, year groups and all students.

3 Curriculum

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

This school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning.

Leaders and teachers have extensively reviewed the school’s curriculum values, principles and key competencies. These align well with learning and the day-to-day life of the school.

The school is guided by Sister Catherine McAuley’s words of “Good today, better tomorrow”, Mercy values and Catholic virtues. They are explicitly taught and are well understood by the students, guiding their interactions and learning.

The principal and teachers are finding increasing ways to integrate te ao Māori into the school’s curriculum. This was evident in their recent celebration of Mātariki and cultural learning activities. The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi can be seen in action at the school.

ERO observed good quality teaching in the sample of classes it observed. Teachers were:

  • using a wide variety of effective teaching approaches
  • questioning students’ understanding of their learning
  • giving students opportunities to explore and explain their ideas
  • showing respect for their students and the learning process.
Key next step

Leaders should extend curriculum reviews to comprehensively evaluate the impact of learning programmes.

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

Māori students are well engaged in their learning and the life of the school. Core concepts valued by Māori are closely aligned with the way the school’s Catholic values are enacted. School leaders are developing useful links with local Māori.

The school is in the early stages of reflecting Māori students’ language, identity and culture and developing an understanding of what success for Māori, as Māori, could look like.

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.

Trustees are capable and knowledgeable. The board is becoming increasingly effective in its governance role. Trustees have had extensive training in aspects of governance.

The principal provides strong professional leadership. She:

  • makes school decisions based on research and best practice
  • leads and supports high quality staff development
  • is reflective, improvement focused and collaborative.

The school’s performance management system provides effective appraisal for teachers. The school’s self-review practices are becoming embedded. This can be seen in the way that leaders:

  • ask useful questions
  • evaluate against indicators
  • consult and survey extensively
  • understand self review.
Key next step

The board and principal should extend their annual planning so that the desired outcomes from their key priorities are clear and can be evaluated.

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 Mary’s School provides well for its students. Students learn in an environment of care and respect. They achieve well. They easily talk about aspects of their learning. The school’s Catholic special character is well integrated into daily learning. Continuing to develop aspects of review will support the school further in its improvement focus.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

28 November 2014

About the School

Location

Gore

Ministry of Education profile number

4018

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

190

Gender composition

Boys: 102 Girls: 88

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Other

156

19

9

6

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

28 November 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2012

June 2008

June 2005