Burnside High School - 09/10/2013

1 Context

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

Burnside High School is a very large urban, co-educational school. The 2011 Canterbury earthquakes continue to impact on many students and staff.

The school has identified that the nature of its student intake is increasingly diverse. Teachers and senior managers have strengthened pastoral care support to improve engagement and learning for all students. ERO observed positive and respectful relationships between students and teachers. Staff and students are proud of their school. There are high expectations for achievement throughout the school community.

In 2012 student achievement in the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA) was higher than that of students in similar schools. Students attain high levels of endorsements and scholarships in NCEA.

Students continue to enjoy success at national and international levels in a number of cultural and sporting activities. The performing and visual arts are a particular strength of the school. There are high levels of community involvement and support for learning and co-curricular programmes.

2 Learning

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

Overall, teachers and senior managers are making good use of what they know about student progress and achievement. They collect a range of useful information that is helping them to focus on students’ individual needs and abilities, and to reflect on their teaching practice.

Senior managers and teachers are developing useful systems to predict achievement levels of Years 9 and 10 students. These systems are helping to monitor student progress and achievement more effectively over their time at school.

The school successfully supports students with identified learning needs. The learning support coordinator and staff use achievement information well to plan appropriate programmes and monitor students’ progress. Students from a range of backgrounds benefit from well-planned and resourced programmes for students needing additional support to learn the English language (ESOL).

Senior leaders and teachers have introduced a number of systems to support teachers to continue to develop high-quality teaching practices. They are looking at ways to spread this good practice across the school. This should help all teachers to improve learning and achievement for all students.

3 Curriculum

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

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

Students continue to have very good opportunities to experience high levels of academic success. In recent years the senior and middle managers have broadened the curriculum to provide flexible pathways to cater for the aspirations and changing needs of students.

Developments in information and communication technologies (ICT) and links with tertiary, industry and community providers have contributed to a more responsive curriculum. Knowledgeable staff help students to make appropriate choices about their courses and career pathways.

Teachers and managers provide a wide range of opportunities for student leadership throughout the school in divisional assemblies, class, sporting and cultural activities.

There has been a variety of professional learning opportunities for staff which have supported individual and school-wide goals. These opportunities are extending teachers' capability to include wider range of ways to improve outcomes for all students. The next steps for the senior management team and board are to:

  • narrow the focus of professional development in the school
  • clearly state the purpose of Professional Learning and Development (PLD)
  • monitor its impact on learning and teaching and use the evaluation of PLD to inform further curriculum development.

Effective use of ICT is supporting teachers and parents to monitor students’ attendance, learning, engagement, progress and achievement. Students and parents have ready access to this digital learning outside school hours and are benefitting from innovative programmes that enhance student learning.

While good progress has been made with curriculum content and delivery of the key competencies of the curriculum, the next step is to evaluate how well the school's curriculum reflects the vision, values and principles of the New Zealand Curriculum.

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

The school is effectively promoting Māori success as Māori. In 2012, at Levels 1, 2 and 3 of NCEA, Māori students achieved above their Māori and non-Māori peers in similar schools.

Junior students who are at risk of not achieving are identified early, provided with appropriate support and their progress is monitored.

A Māori focus group involving staff and board members, provides good leadership and direction for the ongoing development of tikanga and te reo Māori programmes and has a focus on lifting Māori student achievement. The kapa haka group is also having a positive impact by raising the awareness of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

The school has been successfully involved in an externally provided PLD programme for senior and middle managers. This is helping teachers to develop their understanding and confidence to increase bicultural perspectives in their practice and curriculum planning. The next step will be to progress this work with classroom teachers.

The liaison teacher of Māori is supporting students and teachers with learning and teaching programmes and making close links with whānau and community.

How effectively does the school support educational success for Pacific Students?

The school has a very useful plan to promote the learning and wellbeing of Pacific students. Skilled liaison staff are building good partnerships with parents and the community. They have established a well-used space for Pacific students that provides a sense of belonging and helps to strengthen learning relationships. The well-resourced homework centre has proved beneficial for Pacific students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The board and senior management team continue to build on the school’s good performance to further improve outcomes for all students. However, aspects of governance and senior management practice have the potential to impact on the schools ability to maintain and improve its performance.

The board and Senior Management Team (SMT) have identified, and ERO agrees, there is a need to review their school charter. The board's existing strategic plan covered the period 2011-2014. Given that timeframe, and the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes and the pending changes to education in Canterbury the board should review these documents including:

  • revisiting the school’s vision and strategic focus to ensure there is a shared understanding of the school’s ethos and future direction
  • developing detailed plans that clearly state the board’s annual priorities and desired outcomes and how these will be monitored and evaluated
  • aligning these priorities through all school operations and procedures
  • ensuring all stakeholders are consulted and involved in the change process.

While there are some examples of good self review, the board and senior managers need to improve school-wide self-review practices. The school would benefit from a cohesive self-review plan that focuses on school priorities. There is a need to develop a process for self review that is evaluative, identifies next steps, and links to further planning.

The principal, with the support of the board, has introduced a number of worthwhile initiatives that are helping to improve outcomes for all students. These include:

  • developing the capacity of staff to address the needs and aspirations of Māori, Pacific and other groups of priority learners
  • offering courses that extend the range of learning opportunities
  • extending leadership opportunities in pastoral and curriculum areas.

The board is aware of the need to ensure it is fulfilling its role as a good employer. During the review a number of staff raised concerns about workload, change management, communication and decision making processes. Since the onsite stage of the review the board has undertaken to survey staff in order to gather data which will be used to develop an action plan in response to these concerns.


ERO recommends that the board:

  • commission an independent survey of staff and develop an action plan to address the issues raised in the survey
  • engage an external appraiser to assist the board in the appraisal of the principals.

Provision for international students

Burnside High School provides high quality care and education for its international students. The school continues to have a significant number of international fee paying students that contribute much to the cultural diversity of the school.

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review there were 135 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

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

9 October 2013

About the School


Burnside, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 53%

Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Other European

Other ethnicities







Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

9 October 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2010

December 2006

December 2003