Burnside High School - 29/06/2017


Students at Burnside High School learn and develop within an inclusive, values-based learning environment. The school fosters and very effectively supports ‘personal excellence and care for others’. High quality leadership is committed to supporting staff, students and their parents and whānau to feel respected, connected and motivated to achieve success for students. Students enjoy the extensive range of opportunities they have to succeed and excel.

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?

Burnside High School is a large, culturally diverse Year 9 to 13 co-educational secondary school in Christchurch. It has over 2500 students and is divided into four divisions: North, South, West and Senior. Over 100 international students are on the school roll. The roll has increased over the last three years.

Students continue to achieve well, some excelling, in a wide range of academic, sporting and cultural areas. Of particular note is the ongoing success students have in the performing and visual arts.

The school is a member of the Waimairi-iri Community of Learning/Kāhui Ako, an amalgamation of the Burnside and Hereora Clusters.

In 2015 a new principal was appointed. The current senior leadership team members are all new to their roles, with some new senior leadership positions being created.

The school has responded well to ERO’s last report in 2013, with many positive changes and developments. These include:

  • a reviewed and streamlined charter, which is well aligned to the closely monitored annual plan
  • a focused approach to staff professional learning and development, with fewer priorities
  • broadening and strengthening bicultural understandings and practices for students and staff
  • extended opportunities for student leadership, including leading teachers in their learning
  • students bringing and using digital devices to school as a learning tool
  • a positive shift in staff culture and ways in which people are working together.

2 Learning

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers make effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The school’s achievement information shows consistently high achievement for students in Levels 1, 2 and 3 National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) overall. The school is working very positively towards eliminating some disparity in NCEA achievement, and in particular, raising the achievement of Māori students and that of boys. Very high proportions of senior students achieve the literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA. Many senior students gain academic scholarships across a range of subjects. A very high proportion of school leavers attain NCEA Level 2. Students also achieve success in a range of pre-employment courses and an international examination.

Teachers make sound judgements about the degree to which individual junior students are working within the levels of the New Zealand Curriculum or acquiring the competencies and skills specific to a learning area, and report these to parents. Students are being encouraged to use this information to set learning goals and monitor their own progress.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have high expectations for students’ engagement and academic excellence. Student success is widely celebrated. Trustees and school leaders set annual improvement targets to raise student achievement. These are well-aligned with school priorities. Heads of learning areas regularly analyse achievement data and report annually to the board. This information forms part of an overall achievement picture senior leaders and the board use to inform their governance and resourcing decisions to optimise outcomes for learners.

Teachers use reliable systems to identify students who need additional support and extension with their learning. The progress these students make is closely monitored. Pastoral teams of teachers collaborate well to identify and plan effectively for the learning and wellbeing needs of students, with positive outcomes. Learning information from contributing schools is successfully used to support students’ smooth transition into the school.

The next step for leaders and teachers is to extend the analysis and reporting of student achievement and progress information, school-wide and for identified groups. This should enable leaders and the board to better evaluate the impact of school programmes and practices.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively supports and promotes students’ learning.

The school promotes a highly inclusive learning culture so that each learner can ‘strive to excel in learning and life’. The curriculum provides students with equitable access to a wide range of learning opportunities and choices. The school’s key learning objectives are underpinned by an ethos of respect, pride and excellence. Students are encouraged to value teaching and learning and celebrate diversity within the school.

Programmes are flexible and responsive to students’ needs, interests and abilities. There is a well-planned range of opportunities for students of different abilities within classes or year levels to learn at a level that challenges them appropriately. This effectively helps learners who need additional help or a greater level of challenge in their learning.

Students benefit from the extensive range of co-curricular activities. In doing so, they develop their strengths in sporting, artistic or cultural activities, give service to the school or wider community, or show leadership in meaningful contexts.

Students are well supported to improve their attendance and achieve personal excellence. They know the school expects them, as learners, to ‘be respectful’ and ‘have pride’ in what they do. This helps learners as they ‘strive to excel’. The school places a priority on high rates of attendance so that students have plenty of opportunity to learn.

Some departments are providing collaborative learning environments for students, where more than one class learns together.

At all levels of the school students make effective use of digital technologies as a naturally integrated part of how they learn and to show what they have learnt.

Curriculum leaders and teachers have strengthened the way in which they work together to:

  • support the literacy needs of learners who need extra assistance with written language
  • gather and respond to students’ opinions to make learning more engaging and effective for students
  • help students interact collaboratively with each other to gain subject knowledge and to promote teamwork, tolerance and respect for others
  • work with other staff to reflect on and inquire into the effectiveness of their own teaching practice.

A next step for the school is to document a shared, agreed understanding of how students will experience learning at this school. This will provide clarity for learners about what they can expect, guidance for teachers about what they should provide, and a benchmark for leaders against which evaluation can be carried out.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori learners, as Māori. A well-planned strategic approach to supporting success for its Māori students is highly evident and well documented. The school ensures that the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi are respected and deliberately supported. The wide representation within the school’s He Māhuri steering group, including the Māori Student Achievement Team, ensures actions are in place to achieve the school’s goals for Māori learners.

Māori learners can be confident that their identity, language and culture are valued at this school. They experience an increasing consistency of culturally responsive practices in their everyday teaching and learning. They enjoy opportunities to act as tuakana to other students, and to staff members to support their efforts to be increasingly bicultural in their teaching practice. Teachers are well supported through staff development, to increase their knowledge of bicultural practices and make teaching and learning more culturally responsive for Māori learners. Māori students feel that the school values Māori culture.

The board has set a target for improved attendance by Māori students to support greater engagement with learning and to lift achievement. In response, leaders and teachers have improved engagement with Māori learners and whānau so that more Māori students are making the extra commitment to stay longer at school to achieve appropriate qualifications. An increased number of Māori students are leaving school with at least Level 2 NCEA. Māori learners are well supported to strive towards achieving their potential. Māori students’ success as learners and as Māori are well celebrated.

The next steps for the school are to:

  • continue the well-structured work already under way to raise Māori achievement
  • better analyse, evaluate and report on the impact of actions taken to improve outcomes for Māori learners.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific students?

The school is positively promoting and supporting educational success for Pacific students. The board has implemented a Pasifika strategy to ensure all Pacific students are provided with suitable learning opportunities to succeed. A range of initiatives within this strategy are fostering Pacific students’ language, culture and identity.

The recent appointment of a Pacific coordinator and student support person is aimed at further supporting Pacific students. This includes raising the profile of Pacific culture within the school and strengthening links with the Pacific community. Senior leaders regularly monitor and track Pacific students’ progress and attendance to optimise their opportunity to learn.

Pacific students who spoke with ERO said they valued the efforts the school was making to support their learning. Students said they would welcome greater opportunities to provide feedback about how they were finding their teaching and learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. This can be seen in the:

  • positive way in which the board’s redeveloped and refined charter is guiding the school
  • effective way in which school leaders are developing conditions for staff collaboration and inquiry that are contributing to continuous improvement
  • professional capability, leadership and collective capacity of staff
  • productive ways in which information gathering informs school development and improvement
  • very effective ways in which teachers, departments and faculties are working together to ensure best outcomes for students
  • robust staff appraisal system and the way teachers are using well-embedded, useful processes to inquire into the impact of their teaching practice on outcomes for students.

School leaders have developed strong, educationally focused relationships with other institutions including local schools, community and tertiary organisations. The school is working proactively with the Waimairi-iri Community of Learning/Kāhui Ako and regional principals’ groups. There is a more deliberate focus on involving parents and whānau as partners within the school, supporting their children’s learning. This can be seen in the increased ways in which the school communicates with parents, whānau and the wider community.

The principal fosters caring, reflective and ethical leadership. He and other senior leaders are strengthening relational trust amongst staff. They are building the capability of teachers to be leaders who, in turn, promote and support improvements in teaching and learning for students. 

School systems for alignment, accountability and improvement are well developed and effective. There is direct alignment between the school’s strategic plan, annual planning, professional learning and development, school-wide appraisal and student achievement targets. Leaders recognise the importance of this in a large school. They ensure there is a systematic approach to supporting the school’s vision for its learners. Staff have useful opportunities (including forums) to receive and communicate information about school operations and priorities. This has resulted in greater staff engagement in and ownership of the school’s direction.

Next step

The school should extend its processes for internal evaluation. To support this it should build staff capacity to carry out and make best use of evaluations through coherent expectations, guidelines and practices. This will complement the school’s sound vision and mission for its students.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review there were 169 international students attending the school. The school provides high quality education and pastoral care for its international students. The students are well integrated into the life of the school, in class and through a wide variety of clubs, sports and other activities. The international department members listen to students’ ideas and opinions, and regularly survey them to find ways to improve their systems and processes.

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.


Students at Burnside High School learn and develop within an inclusive, values-based learning environment. The school fosters and very effectively supports ‘personal excellence and care for others’. High quality leadership is committed to supporting staff, students and their parents and whānau to feel respected, connected and motivated to achieve success for students. Students enjoy the extensive range of opportunities they have to succeed and excel.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

29 June 2017

About the School 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls: 54% Boys: 46%

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

April 2017

Date of this report

29 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

October 2013
January 2010
December 2006