Cornerstone Christian School - 07/11/2012

1 Context

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

Cornerstone Christian School is a state integrated school located on the northern outskirts of Palmerston North. It caters for an increasing, ethnically diverse roll. Of the 252 students from Years 1 to 8, 16% are Pacific and 7% identify as Māori.

Christian values underpin the curriculum and provide a platform for building relationships with families. Recent property developments include a new administration area and library space, which extends to form a useful meeting space for schoolwide and community events. The Cornerstone Pre-school is located on the same site. Close proximity to Lalanga Mo'ui with its school-based afterschool programmes provide opportunities for staff to build links with the local Tongan community. Staff are committed to strengthening links with their Māori community.

Professional development in literacy has provided guidance for teachers particularly for working with groups of targeted students with identified needs in reading and writing.

The school is led by an acting principal pending a permanent appointment.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are purposefully engaged in learning in well organised classrooms. They respond positively to high expectations for behaviour and have opportunities to share, celebrate and support each other in their learning.

School reported student achievement data shows that most students, including Māori and Pacific, achieve at or above in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Students with specific learning needs are provided with good individual support. This is well documented and communicated, and linked to classroom programmes. Effective teacher-aide assistance in classrooms enables students to participate successfully in class programmes. English language learners are supported by appropriately targeted programmes.

Teachers are building their confidence in the use of student achievement data to inform teaching. Appropriate schoolwide targets are developed with teachers at the start of the year. Providing further clarity and guidance for making overall teacher judgments in relation to the National Standards should support improved consistency. Strengthening and aligning assessment practices should assist teachers to more effectively monitor student progress and the impact of teaching strategies that accelerate progress for priority learners. This should also result in clearer reporting to parents to guide students’ next steps.

Teachers are exploring ways to involve students in making decisions about and understanding of their learning. Further development of these strategies is likely to promote increased student ownership of learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school has clearly articulated its vision and values to support its special Christian character. The notion of 'Kingdom Kids' underpins school activities and is well communicated to students. Recently reviewed curriculum statements in Christian living, literacy and mathematics provide useful guidance for teaching.

Further development of the curriculum is required to reflect needs, interests and strengths of children and the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum. Undertaking a review in consultation with students, whānau, aiga and the wider school community, should lead to provision of a more culturally responsive curriculum.

Teachers foster positive, collaborative classroom environments and establish clear expectations for learning. The use of teacher modelling and focused group teaching supports students to understand the purposes of their learning.

Teachers’ formal inquiry into teaching and learning focuses on identified school priorities. This process is building teachers’ confidence to try new approaches. Collegial groups provide opportunities for teachers to develop a common language of learning as they share and reflect on successful practices. The next step is to refine the process and build an evidence base to evaluate the impact of teachers’ actions on student outcomes. This, along with ongoing development of the appraisal process, should provide better support for teacher development.

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

The provision of kapa haka activities is valued by students, staff and whānau. Māori students have opportunities to stand proud in their identity and learn about their heritage and culture. It provides valuable opportunities for whānau leadership, contribution and involvement.

Recently developed protocols for welcoming new families and visitors into the school demonstrate a strengthened commitment to the development of tikanga Māori in the school. Links to the local marae have been established and staff are responsive and open to building their capacity in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

School leaders acknowledge that The New Zealand Curriculum principle of Te Tiriti o Waitangi needs to be more evident in school programmes and practices. Further consultation with whānau Māori to ascertain aspirations and drive strategic direction is likely to promote further success for Māori students, as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Positive relationships between staff, parents and students are evident. Common beliefs and practices build a sense of community. Trustees and school leaders are committed to developing and supporting leadership. Recent changes to the leadership structure and communication processes should enable more opportunities for teachers to grow leadership capabilities and increase participation in decision-making.

Trustees are focused on improvement and positive outcomes for students. They value staff and serve the school community well. They demonstrate a considered, thorough approach to their governance roles and are establishing clear expectations, systems and processes. Reports and self review are detailed and comprehensive. The school’s strategic plan provides good direction for ongoing improvement.

Processes for self review are established and guidelines for implementation are clear. The framework includes some useful questions to examine school practices and processes. Reviews reflect school priorities, are based on relevant sources of evidence and value teachers’ perspectives. Resulting recommendations provide some useful suggestions for improvement. ERO recommends further strengthening and refining of the self-review process to focus on the impact for students, including the deliberate enactment of resulting recommendations.

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
  • 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.

Joyce Gebbie National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

7 November 2012

About the School


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 58%, Female 42%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Other ethnic groups








Special Features

State Integrated

Review team on site

September 2012

Date of this report

7 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

May 2009

April 2006

May 2005