Dunsandel School - 20/12/2016

1 Context

Dunsandel School maintains strong links with its rural community. Local traditions and events are skilfully integrated into the school curriculum and are well supported by parents, whānau and the wider local community.

The principal and many staff and trustees have been involved with the school for a number of years. Their knowledge of the local community and families is helping to ensure the school's inclusive culture and strong community links are maintained.

An increase in dairying in the area is resulting in more children moving into and from the school during the year, and more families from different cultural backgrounds are enrolling at the school.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are clearly outlined in the PRIDE values of participate, respect, initiative, determination and excellence. Children are expected to participate in all aspects of school life and treat others as they would like to be treated. They are expected to use their initiative, try hard, not give up, and always do their best.

The school’s achievement information shows that Māori children are achieving very well in the National Standards in reading and mathematics and less well in writing.

The majority of children in this school are achieving very well in the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics, with boys achieving less well in writing. Children's achievement has been high over the previous three years with further improvements occurring each year.

A range of assessment activities and a well-structured moderation process across the school provides teachers with meaningful assessment data. They appropriately use this data to make decisions about children's achievement levels in relation to the National Standards.

Since the 2013 ERO review, the school has addressed many of the recommendations in that report. The board has developed a useful strategic plan to guide them in achieving equity and excellence for students. Reports to parents provide useful information on student achievement and progress. The school is giving greater prominence to bicultural perspectives and has begun to involve students in setting direction for their learning. The latter two recommendations are areas for continuing development.

The school has focused on improving outcomes for children and accelerated their learning and development by:

  • reviewing and improving previous practices
  • redefining the roles of teachers and teacher aides
  • introducing new programmes to lift the achievement of different groups of children. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school responds effectively to Māori children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

Leaders and teachers establish strong learning partnerships with Māori children and their whānau. They use a range of approaches to find out about the family, their interests and expectations for their children's learning. They maintain regular contact and keep them well informed about their child's progress and the ways that they can support their learning at home.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have high expectations for Māori students. Teachers make good use of their knowledge of families to make learning and school experiences meaningful and interesting. They successfully use the school vision and values to embed pride in achievement, progress, and being a member of the school community.

Teachers effectively use research, different teaching approaches and regular evaluation to identify what initiatives have the greatest impact for Māori students whose progress needs to be accelerated. Leaders and teachers regularly share this information with staff to increase their skills and knowledge to benefit other students in their learning.

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

The school effectively responds to other students whose learning is at risk, in the same way they respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The board, leaders and ERO agree that the key next steps for the school include:

  • continuing to develop ways to strengthen the reliability of school achievement information
  • extending reporting of student achievement beyond reading, writing and mathematics to other curriculum areas.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

Many aspects of the school's curriculum and other organisational processes and practices effectively develop and enact the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

The school's vision and values are clearly evident, intentionally taught and well embedded into all aspects of school life. Leaders establish clear and consistent social expectations that are designed to support teaching and learning. Leaders, teachers and senior students place a strong emphasis on ensuring they model the school's values. This is helping to support student wellbeing, learning and sense of belonging within the school and wider community.

Children are engaged, settled and confident in their classes and in the wider school environment. They are positive, respectful and articulate, and are very positive about their school and the many opportunities they are given. Children place a strong emphasis on supporting and caring for each other, particularly older children for younger children.

Student leadership is a strength of the school. It is actively promoted for all Year 6 children. They are given the support, strategies and confidence that they need to be successful leaders within the school and wider community.

The curriculum is well planned and delivered and provides a wide range of experiences and opportunities. Teachers regularly evaluate their programmes to identify what has promoted learning and positive outcomes, and where further improvements can be made to teaching and learning. The curriculum and class programmes are constantly being adapted to better meet the learning and social needs of children.

Relationships between the trustees, principal and staff actively support improved outcomes for all children. They are based on trust, integrity and transparency. The principal is actively involved in school activities and is visible in the school and the community. This is enhancing curriculum opportunities and strengthening learning partnerships.

Parents, whānau and the community are welcomed and involved in school activities as respected and valued partners in learning.

The board, leaders and ERO agree that the key next steps include:

  • strengthening internal evaluation processes
  • continuing to encourage and support Māori children to succeed as Māori
  • strategically planning for the establishment of collaborative teaching practices across the school
  • extending and fully implementing an appraisal system for teachers that better meets the requirements of the New Zealand Education Council.

5 Going forward

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

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The principal and teachers have very good systems and practices for identifying, monitoring, supporting and evaluating the progress of children who need their achievement accelerated. They now need to focus more on establishing a culturally responsive curriculum that supports Māori children to succeed as Māori. Children's achievement would be further strengthened by children having more opportunities to identify their own learning needs and evaluate their own and others' work.

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

6 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 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendation

The board, principal and staff should embed well-planned and understood evaluation processes and practices into all aspects and at all levels of school operations.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

20 December 2016

About the school 


Dunsandel, Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 48%; Boys 52%

Ethnic composition



Other ethnicities




Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

20 December 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2013

August 2010

May 2007