Dunstan High School - 31/07/2019

School Context

Dunstan High School is a state, co-educational school for students in Years 9 to 13. It is located in Alexandra, Central Otago. The current roll is 566 students, 96 of whom identify as Māori. At the time of the review the school had six international students.

The school’s mission is ‘To support all students to seek their best in all aspects of life’. The school’s vision is ‘For our young people to be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners’.

The school’s valued outcomes focus on four inter-related areas called ‘Cornerstones’. The cornerstones are: personal educational excellence, positive community relationships, providing a supportive environment, and providing academic, sporting and cultural opportunities. These four areas also form the basis of the school’s strategic direction.

The school’s guiding principles refer to the desire to learn, work hard and achieve personal best, honesty and respect for all, friendship and generosity towards others, and a sense of pride and belonging to school.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in all learning areas, in relation to the levels of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)
  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)
  • other valued outcomes, including wellbeing and attendance.

Significant features of the school include shared onsite community facilities, an international students’ programme, a hostel, a learning support facility and Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) for students who have high or very high education needs. Since the 2015 ERO review, the school has had a change in principal and significant property development.

The school is part of the Dunstan Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is effective in supporting most of its senior students to achieve equitable outcomes and the school’s valued outcomes. School data shows good rates of attendance and retention for students across all year groups.

School National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data shows that from 2014 to 2018:

  • most students consistently achieve NCEA Level 1 and 2

  • a large majority of students consistently achieved NCEA Level 3

  • a small majority of students consistently achieved university entrance (U.E.)

  • there was disparity at NCEA and UE, sometimes significant, for students who identify as Māori

  • there was disparity at NCEA and UE, sometimes significant, for boys.

For students in Year 9, school data for 2018 shows that:

  • in reading, writing and mathematics, a large majority of students achieved at or above expected curriculum levels

  • there was disparity in reading, writing and mathematics for students who identify as Māori

  • there was disparity in reading and writing for boys.

For students in Year 10 school data for 2018 shows that:

  • in reading, writing and mathematics, fewer than half of students achieved at or above expected curriculum levels

  • there was disparity in literacy and mathematics for students who identify as Māori

  • there was an ongoing disparity in literacy for boys

  • there was disparity in mathematics for girls.

The school’s learning support facility provides appropriate programmes and opportunities to meet the targeted needs of students, some of whom have additional or complex learning needs. These students are well supported to make sound progress against appropriately challenging goals within their individual education plans.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

ERO is unable to make a judgement about rates and sufficiency of progress for students. The school is currently developing systems to track, monitor and report on sufficiency of progress. School data indicates that some targeted students make accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school provides a positive, caring and supportive learning culture. Strong pastoral systems and processes promote student wellbeing. Student voice is valued and provides important feedback on many aspects of school operation. Positive and respectful relationships amongst students and teachers enhance students’ sense of belonging and readiness to learn.

Students have access to a responsive and broad curriculum. A wide range of co-curricular activities complement the personalised programmes and diverse pathways that are available to students. The school makes good use of local and regional people, places and resources to enrich learning. This work supports an increased appreciation throughout the school of Māori culture. Appropriate systems are in place to provide individual support for students with additional needs.

Reflective and improvement focused leaders promote and model an inclusive school culture and build leadership opportunities for both staff and students. The school consults widely with the community and responds effectively. As a result, school leaders and trustees make well-informed resourcing decisions for whole school improvement.

The school ensures there are sound processes and practices in place to build teacher capability. There is a clear alignment of strategic priorities with professional learning, teacher appraisal, induction and mentoring. Leaders recognise and use teacher strengths and intentionally recruit staff to best meet student and school needs, as well as to build capability. The school is improving the monitoring and analysis of student information to inform teaching and learning.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school should continue to strengthen culturally responsive practice by giving greater prominence to te ao and te reo Māori in day-to-day teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders must take affirmative action in relation to te ao Māori and te reo Māori to ensure that students who identify as Māori can succeed as Māori.

Aspects of internal evaluation need strengthening to be more evaluative and strategic. Teachers need to deepen their inquiry into the effectiveness of strategies and interventions, to lift student achievement. Clearly identifying relevant evaluation indicators, outcomes and the impact on students in reporting, will further assist decision making at all levels of the school. Ongoing development of the analysis and reporting of achievement data against school strategic goals will provide a clearer picture of rates of progress, achievement and how well the school is addressing in school disparity for students.

3 Other Matters

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel accommodates up to 50 students. At the time of this review there were 38 students in residence, representing about 6% of the roll. Most students reside in the hostel from Monday to Friday. A small number, including some international students, reside for the full week.

The hostel is owned by the school. The school attests that all requirements of the Hostel Regulations have been met. ERO’s investigations confirm that there are sound processes to support students’ wellbeing, safety and learning. Under the new management, hostel facilities have been significantly improved. Students spoke positively about the new management, in terms of their care and responsiveness to student suggestions.

Provision for international students

Dunstan High 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. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school has sound processes for reviewing its compliance against the code. The new director for International Students (IS), is providing useful reports to trustees about IS provision.

At the time of this review, there were six international students enrolled. Students spoke positively about their experience at the school. They felt well supported pastorally and academically. IS staff ensured that new students felt welcome, included and were given helpful orientation into the school and into the local community.

4 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
  • finance
  • 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 Children’s Act 2014.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Dunstan High School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

6 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • an environment that values students’ perspectives and supports their participation in learning
  • a responsive and localised curriculum that recognises student’s needs and interests
  • strategic leadership that is consultative and improvement focused.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • continuing to focus on developing culturally responsive practices that include an increased understanding of te ao Māori and te reo Māori
  • Māori succeeding as Māori
  • strengthening knowledge and capability in internal evaluation to more clearly identify the impact of actions on valued student outcomes, for identified groups of students.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini
Southern Region
31 July 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type


School roll


Gender composition

Boys 296, Girls 270

Ethnic composition

Māori 96

NZ European/ Pākehā 445

Other ethnicities 25

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

31 July 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review July 2015

Education Review May 2012