St Thomas School (Winton)

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Summary

The school has a roll of 74. A small number of children identify as Māori and Filipino.

Since the 2014 ERO review the school has appointed a new principal and four new teachers. All but two of the trustees are new on the board.

The recommendations for improvement in the 2014 ERO report are still work in progress and an area for improvement in this 2017 report.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school is not yet achieving equitable outcomes for some children whose learning and achievement need acceleration, particularly in mathematics. Its practices for supporting children’s learning need to be strengthened. The school needs to develop a shared understanding of effective processes to identify practices which need further development.

The school’s strengths are:

  • its strong focus on the children’s physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing
  • its intent on children becoming confident, actively involved learners who are connecting to the wider community through faith-based service and activities.

At the time of this review, the school had capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all children. However, disparity in achievement for some children remains.

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • need to develop and implement approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child.

The school agrees to:

  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate learning for children

  • monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and children’s progress

  • discuss the school’s progress with ERO.

ERO will provide feedback and resources to support the development of more targeted planning.

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

Equity and excellence

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

The school has effectively responded to some but not all children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school’s achievement trends over the last three years show:

  • high levels of achievement in reading have been sustained with most children reaching and exceeding the National Standards

  • achievement in mathematics dropped significantly from 2014 to 2015 but now shows some improvement in 2016

  • variable achievement in writing with a small improvement in 2016.

School records show that some children have made accelerated progress in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. These records also show that some children have not yet made sufficient progress to attain a satisfactory level of achievement.

Leaders and teachers need to develop more effective practices to make reliable judgements about children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

There are school processes for supporting children’s learning which are good quality.

The school’s curriculum design is responsive to the aspirations of students, parents and the wider Catholic community. Its enactment ensures that every learner has opportunities to progress sufficiently to achieve its valued outcomes.

The school’s purposeful transition programmes effectively support children and their families as they begin life at this school. Parents and whānau are actively encouraged to participate in their children’s learning.

Teachers and children make effective use of digital technologies for learning across the curriculum.

Students are well engaged in their learning and show an increasing understanding of their role in the learning process. They show good understanding of the school’s vision and values (CHASERS) and regularly assess and report their progress against this.

Students who need extra support to succeed are closely monitored and provided with specialist teaching. Teachers actively seek ways to increase their own knowledge and skills to improve the children’s learning. The school is part of a cluster of schools with the purpose of raising children’s achievement in mathematics.

Children’s learning is well connected across all learning areas and underpinned by the Catholic faith and values. The collaborations the school has with its wider community enrich the overall learning experiences for all.

The principles of manaakitanga/caring, whanaungatanga/inclusion, tika/social justice and rato/ service are strongly evident within the school community.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

The school needs to develop a shared understanding of internal evaluation.

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

The school’s charter targets are not sufficiently focused on those children who need to make accelerated progress to be achieving at expected levels in mathematics.

Some of the school’s evaluation practices need to be more consistently implemented and well used to inform decisions and improvements.

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

  • 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.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all children. However, disparity in achievement for some children remains.

Leaders and teachers: 

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated

  • need to continue to develop and implement approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child. 

The school agrees to:

  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate learning for children

  • monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and children’s progress

  • discuss the school’s progress with ERO.

ERO will provide feedback and resources to support the development of more targeted planning.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

12 July 2017

About the school 

Location

Winton

Ministry of Education profile number

4023

School type

Full Primary (Years 1-8)

School roll

74

Gender composition

39 Girls

35 Boys

Ethnic composition

Māori 4

Pākehā 50

Filipino 17

Others 3

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

12 July 2017

Most recent ERO report(s) Education Reviews

May 2014

March 2011

May 2008

 

1 Context

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

The Catholic special character of St Thomas School guides and underpins the school’s vision for education. The relatively small size of the school is used to advantage to ensure the school’s values around wellbeing and positive, trusting relationships are very visible in practice. For example, junior students benefit from a senior “buddy”. New families to the school are paired up with another family to help them become part of the wider school community.

There have been major developments at the school since the 2011 ERO review. Significant progress has been made in developing and refining the school’s curriculum to ensure that it meets the needs of students. This has included review of what is taught, as well as how it is taught and assessed. Students benefit from the teachers’ focus on their professional learning and development. Teachers make good use of additional spaces within the school to enhance opportunities for students to enjoy school, learn and be successful.

Board and school management systems have been improved. The board and teachers have clear ideas for the future direction of the school and are using a good range of processes to support them in moving forward.

Filipino students are a significant and highly valued part of the school roll. The school celebrates this cultural diversity and provides academic and social support to these, and any other students, that need it.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to support students’ learning. Teachers have good systems to track students’ achievement over time. Learning conversations and goal-setting meetings bring parents, teachers and students together to discuss achievement and next stages of learning. A next step is to more specifically collate achievement information about groups of students (priority learners), including the achievement of Filipino students, to ensure that they are achieving and progressing well.

Students make good use of achievement information to:

  • inform learning conversations with their teachers and to identify the next stages in their learning
  • monitor their progress against their goals
  • reflect on their own work and to give feedback to other students about their work
  • develop criteria to show them when they have succeeded in their learning
  • feel confident about the progress they are making.

Teachers use achievement information effectively to:

  • identify groups of students needing particular support with their learning
  • assist students and their parents to set students’ learning goals
  • plan programmes on the basis of students’ prior knowledge
  • engage students with learning, to reward and encourage them
  • assess each student’s progress and arrive at an overall judgement about achievement
  • gather information to report to the board about student achievement
  • communicate with parents about their child’s achievement and progress
  • identify areas that could form the basis for parent education.

Trustees use achievement information well to:

  • monitor school-wide achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics
  • inform decisions about board support and resources for additional programmes
  • inform discussion about the level of achievement in the school
  • to set specific targets for student achievement for students who are below the National Standards in mathematics and writing.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. The curriculum document has been developed by the school and is seen by teachers as very useful. It is under constant review and is a very helpful way of documenting school-wide expectations for teaching and learning. The essence statements of all learning areas are linked to the school-wide long-term plan. There is still further work to do to show how some learning areas link into the school’s programme.

The school’s curriculum is underpinned by its special character. The school’s vision is evident in practice. Student wellbeing is promoted and valued at all times. Senior students enjoy contributing through a range of leadership opportunities, including a “buddy’ system with junior students.

Teachers make programmes relevant to students where this is possible. Classrooms are safe environments for exploring ideas. ICT is seamlessly and meaningfully integrated into programmes. Classroom teachers and students are well supported by knowledgeable teacher aides.

The classroom teaching ERO saw during its visit was high quality. Students were actively engaged in their learning. Almost all students were able to tell ERO about the purpose of their learning. Classrooms were exciting learning environments where students’ work was proudly displayed. Students had access to a good variety of visual prompts to help them with their learning. Teachers modelled high expectations for quality work and affirming relationships.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for the small number of Māori students on the roll. The place of Māori is valued and incorporated in religious education and other school programmes. The views of the parents of Māori students are sought and respected.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

St Thomas School is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Trustee and principal leadership is effective in defining the direction for the school and in leading and managing school systems. The school has strong links with, and great support from, the local community. This has created a school culture that is inclusive and collegial. The strength of relationships at all levels of the school underpins sustainability. All staff are highly professional in their roles and regularly seek ways to improve their performance.

Area for review and development

School self-review practices are developing and need to be further refined and extended. For example, the process teachers use to review curriculum areas is not yet documented. An agreed, documented process may help with consistency and ensure the desired breadth of curriculum review coverage. More generally, a clearer statement about the purpose of self review, how the review is to be carried out and how the results are to be presented and used is likely to be beneficial in affirming current good practice and identifying future developments.

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.
Action 

The written reports parents receive each half year indicate how well their child has achieved in relation to expectations, without defining whose expectations these are. These reports need to be altered to “report to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards”. [SOURCE: National Administration Guideline 2A (a) – 1993 National Education Guidelines]

Recommendation 

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should develop an action plan to review and extend its current self review and ensure that the school’s self review is in line with current best practice.

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

14 May 2014

About the School

Location

Winton, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

4023

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

62

Gender composition

Female: 32 Male: 30

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Filipino

Māori

Other

35

20

4

3

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

14 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

March 2011

May 2008

June 2007