Riccarton School - 22/01/2015

1 Context

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

The board, school leaders and staff recognise, value and celebrate the extensive multicultural diversity of students.

The school’s focus on developing ‘responsible, respectful, real learners’, combined with an emphasis on positive behaviour, helps to create a school climate that strongly supports student learning and wellbeing.

The roll changes significantly throughout each year as families move into and out of the community, partly as a result of the ongoing impact of the Canterbury earthquakes. Many students enter the school at five years of age with limited experiences beyond their homes and families and understandings of early literacy and numeracy.

Students with additional learning and wellbeing needs are well supported by a wide range of programmes and initiatives.

The board and principal have responded positively to the recommendations in the 2010 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information well to promote student engagement, progress and achievement.

While student achievement related to the National Standards was lower than for similar schools at the end of 2013, mid-year information in 2014 shows good progress for many targeted students, particularly in reading and writing. However, school leaders and teachers are still not satisfied with the rates of progress of students who are underachieving (priority learners), including Māori and Pacific students. They are taking deliberate actions to improve students' performance and help them make faster progress.

This is most evident in the way achievement information is used to:

  • set school and class targets for priority learners and plan the actions needed to improve their learning
  • inquire thoroughly into the effectiveness of teaching practices and change these as necessary
  • discuss the progress of individual students regularly and share ways of improving their learning with the principal and other staff
  • provide extra learning support from teachers with assistance from teacher aides.

Older students with higher ability have their learning extended in several ways including through a mentor programme with the University of Canterbury.

Areas for review and development

The board, leaders and teachers should now build on the many good practices identified above by:

  • making achievement targets more specific and measurable and include all priority learners
  • fine tuning the way teachers make their decisions about student achievement and progress in relation to the National Standards to increase the accuracy of their judgements
  • reviewing the way achievement and progress are reported to students and parents to ensure that the information is easily understood and shows progress
  • extending the scope of reports to the board about the impact of additional learning support.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum takes appropriate account of students’ diverse interests and needs. Teaching programmes are broadening students’ experiences and engaging them well by making learning meaningful, relevant and enjoyable.

Strengths of the curriculum include:

  • an inquiry approach that integrates different curriculum areas and provides students with good opportunities to make choices about what and how they learn
  • suitable emphasis given to literacy and mathematics
  • well-defined guidelines and beliefs about effective teaching and a strong focus on cultural responsiveness
  • increasing use of technologies to support teaching and learning.

Student wellbeing is given priority. Affirming and positive relationships exist between teachers and students. Feedback in a school survey showed high levels of satisfaction with the way teachers encouraged and helped students to learn.

A measured approach is being taken to introducing new practices, for example, learning about the best ways to teach in modern learning environments.

Areas for review and development

Reporting to the board, students and parents about the wider curriculum, beyond literacy and mathematics, should be more specific.

Opportunities could be extended for students to understand and lead their own learning.

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

The school has made good progress in promoting further success for Māori learners as Māori.

Positive steps have been taken to extend the use of te reo and tikanga Māori in programmes and practices and upskill staff. Detailed action plans support these developments.

Consultation with Māori whānau has increased. A Māori whānau group now meets each term to share information and contribute to school decision making.

Areas for review and development

The school could consider making the learning of te reo Māori progressive across the school. This should also assist parents to learn alongside their children, as requested by some parents.

Reflecting the school’s commitment to Māori learners could be more evident by making the bicultural content of the curriculum more explicit, such as in the values and vision.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific students?

Positive actions have been taken to foster success for Pacific students. These include:

  • the Pacific Education Plan being used to guide new initiatives
  • the school working with other schools as part of a learning cluster focused on improving outcomes for Pacific students
  • a Pacific trustee providing a valuable connection with Pacific parents and community
  • the principal’s research into Pacific education leading to further developments in this area.

Consultation with parents shows that they appreciate what the school does to support their children. They have high expectations for their children to succeed.

Area for review and development

The board and staff recognise the need to continue to work actively, and with urgency, to lift the achievement of Pacific students. Increasing the partnership with parents in this process is likely to help accelerate students’ learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The principal and other leaders are strongly focused on making continuous improvements to teaching and learning. Expectations are high and are closely monitored and supported. An external literacy expert has provided specific feedback to teachers on their practice. Teachers work as one team to build the consistent use of effective practice.

Professional development for staff is well planned to meet the emerging needs of students.

Good-quality principal and teacher appraisals affirm effective leadership and teaching practice and identify any areas for development.

Suitable steps have been taken by the principal to share and grow staff leadership.

The board has appropriate guidelines to support its governance role. A well-considered charter identifies a range of goals for improvement. Comprehensive action plans are developed to guide progress towards these goals.

Trustees are supportive of the principal and staff and make decisions that are in the best interests of students. Regular visits to classrooms by the board show trustees’ commitment to supporting teaching and learning.

Parent involvement in students’ learning is promoted in a range of interesting and innovative ways. The board seeks the views of its community and acts on suggestions for improvement. Feedback from parents about the school is extremely positive.

Areas for review and development

Aspects of board and curriculum self review could be developed further to increase their effectiveness and ensure that findings lead to ongoing school improvement.

Some achievement reports to the board need extending to include more information for trustees to use in their decision making.

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 was one international student attending the school.

Information provided by the school shows that very good provision is made for:

  • supporting international students
  • promoting their learning and involvement in the life of the school
  • ensuring that their wellbeing remains a priority.

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.


The school provides an education for students that recognises and values their distinct cultural identities and broadens their learning experiences. This ‘culture of care’ approach is contributing positively to student engagement and leading to more involvement of parents and whānau in students’ learning. The board, school leaders and staff are working together to raise the achievement of all students.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Southern Region

22 January 2015

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 52%;

Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 27%

Māori 23%

Pacific 25%

Asian 14%

Other ethnicities 11%

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

22 January 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review January 2010

Education Review October 2006

Education Review November 2003