Leeston School - 13/10/2014

1 Context

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

Leeston School is a large school in a semi-rural area. It provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. The school roll has continued to grow with more students living locally. This has resulted in two more classrooms and new teaching spaces.

The board and the staff have developed a caring, supportive and inclusive culture. There is a high level of parent support for school activities. This includes some parent-led activities, support in classrooms and for education beyond the school environment.

The school’s trustees, leaders and staff have been involved in a considerable range of professional development. This has supported them to make significant progress since the August 2011 ERO review. This includes:

  • successful changes to the leadership structure to accommodate the increasing roll
  • stronger and more meaningful relationships with the Māori community and a greater focus on the school’s bicultural programme
  • an effective process for reviewing and making changes to the school’s operations and curriculum that have led to improved student learning and achievement.

2 Learning

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

The senior leaders and teachers effectively use achievement data to form targets and provide well-focused professional development for staff. The information also contributes to consistent teaching strategies, student engagement and improved achievement. Significant progress is made by students in reading after two years at school and in writing after three years at school.

Achievement information in 2012 and 2013 shows that most students achieve in literacy and mathematics at or above the National Standards. Students overall are achieving above regional and national results against the National Standards in mathematics. Most Māori students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and more significantly in mathematics.

The school-wide focus on mathematics and writing has included changes to teaching practices, programmes and resources. Teachers have identified some groups of students who need extra support in mathematics and writing. These students are benefiting from the well-managed and successful learning support and extension programmes provided by the two specialist curriculum teachers. Results show that these students are making good progress over time and are more positive about their learning.

Learning, progress and achievement are valued and celebrated. Students are encouraged to be involved in goal setting and to take a leadership role. Teachers are finding ways to further strengthen students’ confidence in leading their learning. They provide good opportunities for students to make more choices about how and what they learn.

Senior leaders and teachers are developing good practices that help them make accurate judgements about student assessment. They are continuing to strengthen and extend the ways student achievement is compared to the National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective promoting and supporting student learning. It provides a wide and interesting range of relevant learning experiences that effectively promote and support student learning.

Integrated school-wide themes provide suitable experiences for different age groups and include the school’s vision, values and bicultural aspects. The well-identified learner qualities known as the ‘Leeston Legends’ support students’ personal development.

The curriculum provides good coverage of all the learning areas identified in the New Zealand Curriculum. The principal and teachers have developed clear guidelines and systems to support teaching and learning. School-wide celebrations of different cultures give value and respect to individual families and their cultural backgrounds.

Teachers have high expectations for student learning. They are highly reflective and make appropriate changes to practices and programmes to meet students’ needs. They collaboratively plan and share practices. This includes the use of technologies in learning that engage students in interesting ways. Students also reflect on their learning and progress.

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

The school has an inclusive curriculum that supports Māori students to succeed as Māori. The principal and staff have established strong, positive relationships with the tangata whenua of the local marae. Kaumātua from the marae willingly share their expert knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori with students and staff. The kapa haka group has a popular school and public profile.

Teachers are well supported to develop their confidence in using te reo and tikanga Māori. The next step is for leaders and teachers to continue to strengthen the integration of Māori aspects in their planning and the school’s curriculum.

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.

The board, principal and senior leaders work well together. The school’s long-term plan and annual plans are focused on raising student achievement and supporting professional practice.

The principal and senior leaders provide strong professional leadership. They have established effective communication systems across the school to ensure that school-wide consistency and expectations are met. They are approachable, flexible and supportive to staff.

Teachers are provided with significant resources and support. They have a range of opportunities to take on leadership roles. A school-wide culture of critical reflection and self review effectively contribute to continuous improvement. Senior leaders have clear roles and responsibilities and make good use of individual staff strengths.

Senior leaders and teachers work collaboratively to discuss and plan ways to accelerate student progress. They are well supported by the board.

The board works very closely with the principal to provide an educationally-focused environment for students and staff. Trustees have a strong commitment to the school and its community. There is a high level of community support and parent participation in the school.

The board and senior leaders agree that the next steps are to:

  • consider ways to extend and make more collaborative, the working relationship with parents
  • proactively plan for the induction and succession of ongoing board membership.

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.


Leeston School has a caring, supportive and inclusive culture. Teachers provide interesting learning experiences that effectively support student engagement in learning. Students have good opportunities to carry out leadership roles. The staff and students benefit from the expert knowledge of kaumātua from the local marae. The school is very well governed, led and managed.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell
National Manager Review Services 
Southern Region

13 October 2014

About the School


Leeston, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Other Ethnicities


13 %




Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

13 October 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2011

May 2008

February 2005