Ellesmere College - 15/10/2014


The school has an inclusive culture and positive relationships. There is strong support from the community. Increasingly effective use of achievement information is promoting student progress, engagement and achievement. There is a positive trend in NCEA achievement over time. Curriculum choices and vocational pathways are being extended to meet students’ individual interests and needs. The board is currently consulting staff, students, and parents about the future direction of the school.

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?

Ellesmere College places a high value on its family-like culture and on the values and practices that help students to engage and excel. The college takes advantage of its semi-rural location to provide a wide range of opportunities and activities that extend student learning, enjoyment and vocational interests. The school roll reflects the increasing cultural diversity of the community.

An inclusive culture, strong pastoral care and a history of good community relationships contribute to a settled and supportive learning environment for students. Parents, whānau and the Parent Teacher Association provide strong support for the school.

Involvement in a cluster of local schools is helping leaders and teachers to continue to improve programmes and practices in the school in ways that benefit students.

The school has responded very well to the recommendations in the 2011 ERO report. This includes increased support for students not achieving as well as expected and improvements to teaching and learning programmes.

2 Learning

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

Senior leaders and teachers are making increasingly effective use of achievement information to promote student progress, engagement and achievement. This includes the use of achievement data to:

  • place students in programmes that match their learning strengths and needs
  • track student progress over time and adjust programmes where necessary
  • introduce a range of useful initiatives that provide more extensive individual support for students who are making slower progress in their learning
  • report to parents more regularly about the engagement of students in their learning.

The improved use of the student achievement targets in 2013 has contributed to better achievement, particularly for those students in literacy and mathematics focus groups. Improved systems and practices for tracking student progress over time, is helping school leaders to better understand and respond to achievement trends.

Professional development programmes focused on school goals are helping teachers to inquire more deeply into the effectiveness of teaching practices that meet a range of students’ learning needs. Teachers have also developed a variety of practices that are strengthening students’ transitions into the school.

There is a positive trend in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) over time. Information provided by the school regarding NCEA results for 2013 shows very good achievement at Levels 1 and 2 in particular, and for Level 1 literacy and mathematics.

At Years 7 and 8, students achieve best in reading. A range of initiatives has been introduced to strengthen literacy and numeracy skills at these year levels. Achievement information is showing that these initiatives are contributing to increasingly positive outcomes for students.

The shared commitment of the board and staff and positive relationships between teachers and students provide strong support for learning.

Areas for review and development

Senior leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that further development of ways to raise the quality of NCEA achievement is a useful next step.

Senior leaders are developing effective ways of reporting the learning progress of priority learners to the board. They should continue to ensure that these reports evaluate the impact of intervention programmes based on the progress of students receiving this extra support.

Leaders and teachers should continue to develop the way they use achievement information at Years 9 and 10 so they can report progress to the board in an increasingly effective way.

3 Curriculum

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

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

Senior leaders and teachers are continuing to extend curriculum choices and vocational pathways that meet students’ individual interests and needs. The senior leaders and teachers focus on ways to ensure a flexible and responsive curriculum and provide a wide range of extracurricular and leadership opportunities for students.

The introduction of the whānau groups that include students from different year levels is helping to build students' sense of belonging and leadership.

Parents are receiving regular progress reports about students’ engagement and motivation. This new system is promoting increased communication with parents.

The curriculum has a strong focus on individual learners. There is a good range of programmes that provide effective pastoral care and support for all students, especially priority learners.

Professional learning programmes and expectations for teachers and department leaders are helping to develop a shared understanding about effective teaching practices.

The school’s new focus and values (Engage, Enable, Extend and RISE) are becoming evident in department planning and in other areas of the school. The school’s leaders and teachers are continuing to update the curriculum to:

  • further integrate this new school vision and values across all learning areas
  • develop a school-wide framework to guide effective learning practices and resources for 21st Century learners.

The board, senior leaders and teachers have high expectations of students’ achievement. The school proudly celebrates students’ achievement and progress, including a range of achievements at local and national levels.

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

An increasing focus on raising cultural awareness and responsiveness is contributing to the good progress the school is making to support students to succeed as Māori. Professional learning in mathematics is helping teachers to raise the achievement for Māori and other students achieving at lower levels in Mathematics.

The board, senior leaders and teachers have close links with representatives from the local marae. These links have enabled them to build strong relationships with whānau and share resources that support Māori students’ success as Māori.

Other school initiatives that are contributing to promoting the success of Māori as Māori are:

  • the establishment of a whānau committee
  • a school-funded te reo Māori teacher that has led to an increasing number of senior students studying te reo Māori
  • the introduction of a performing arts programme providing students with greater opportunities to learn and perform Māori arts
  • a range of opportunities for students’ cultural leadership.

Area for review and development

The school leaders agree they need more detailed planning to inform the future direction and to provide a stronger basis for self review in this area. This should include strengthening the consultation with Māori students and their whānau and the development of documentation about who is responsible, timeframes for implementation and review and reporting requirements.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is in a good place to sustain and improve its performance.

A culture of reflection and improvement is well led by senior leaders. The principal and senior leaders have high expectations for achievement and learning, and value the involvement and contributions of students, staff, parents and whānau. There are collaborative and positive relationships across the school and strong support from and for the community.

School leaders have developed and implemented an effective process of self review. This process shows the development, progress and next steps to improving outcomes for students. Examples of self reviews that are leading to improved outcomes for students include:

  • a good range of effective pastoral care programmes
  • the development of a staff welfare group
  • professional learning groups that are building leadership and supporting teachers to improve practices and programmes.

Areas for review and development

The current board has been in place since the beginning of 2014. Trustees are having board training with an external provider. They bring a good range of experience and expertise to their governance roles. They are currently consulting staff, students, and parents about the future direction of the school. During this process, the board and the senior leaders should continue to review:

  • how well the current leadership structure meets the changing dynamics of the school
  • how well the careers programme, including vocational pathways, is annually reviewed against long-term plans and goals for this area
  • how staff appraisal processes can be strengthened to ensure consistent practices for all staff.

The board needs to ensure that there is an effective process in place to review policies and that findings of self review are well analysed and followed up.

Provision for international students

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

At the time of this review, there were five international students attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school has effective systems and practices to support and review the quality of students’ wellbeing and education. Students are actively included and involved in all aspects of the school.

ERO identified, and senior leaders agree, that some aspects of the review process need formalising.

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.

Since the 2011 ERO review, there have been significant changes at board level. This has resulted in disruption to the cycle that ensures an annual appraisal of the principal against the professional standards for principals. The principal was not appraised against the principal’s performance agreement with the board of trustees in 2012 or 2013. At the time of this review, the 2014 the cycle of appraisal was still to be completed.

  • The board must ensure that the appraisal process for the principal is completed each year. [NZ Education Gazette: and relevant employment agreement]


The school has an inclusive culture and positive relationships. There is strong support from the community. Increasingly effective use of achievement information is promoting student progress, engagement and achievement. There is a positive trend in NCEA achievement over time. Curriculum choices and vocational pathways are being extended to meet students’ individual interests and needs. The board is currently consulting staff, students, and parents about the future direction of the school.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

15 October 2014

About the School


Leeston, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 50%

Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/ Pākehā








Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

15 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

August 2008

September 2004