Riccarton High School

Education institution number:
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Not Applicable
Total roll:

31 Vicki Street, Sockburn, Christchurch

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Riccarton High School - 29/10/2018

School Context

Riccarton High School is a Years 9 -13 state co-educational secondary school in Christchurch with a roll of 1131 students.

Since the last ERO review in 2014, the school’s roll has increased and represents many ethnicities. There have been changes in staffing, including school leadership. A new principal was appointed in 2015.

The school’s vision is for students to experience success today and be prepared for tomorrow. The school states Riccarton High School graduates will be: achieving, independent, life-long learners who are caring, responsible, involved and globally connected through a sense of inclusion. The importance of leading, serving and supporting others is reinforced through the ‘Riccarton Way’, the school’s values system.

To support this vision and graduate outcomes, the school’s current priorities focus on student achievement, the Riccarton whānau, teaching and learning, community and the environment.

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

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQA)

  • progress and achievement in relation to school goals and targets

  • student engagement in learning and curriculum activities

  • outcomes related to wellbeing for success

  • progress and achievement of Years 9 and 10 students in some learning areas, and English language learners (ELL) against English Language Progressions

  • outcomes related to identity, culture and language for Māori and Pacific students.

All teachers and leaders have been involved in whole-school professional learning to develop teaching practices for ELL and in blended learning, and in the use of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

The school is a member of the Pūtaringamotu Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning (CoL). The school also works closely with other primary schools in its locality.

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 moving steadily towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

School information for the past four years shows:

  • most students achieved NCEA Levels 1 and 2

  • the majority of students achieved Level 3 and University Entrance

  • that proportionately more girls achieved NCEA than boys

  • increased numbers of students attaining excellence endorsements

  • in 2016 and 2017 an upwards trend of students leaving school with NZQA qualifications

  • the majority of Years 9 and 10 students achieving at expected levels in the reported subjects

  • high numbers of students involved in community service activities within and beyond the school.

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

The school is effectively accelerating the progress of those Māori and other students who need it. This is particularly so for students in Years 11 to 13 and English language learners.

The school can show good levels of accelerated progress. A next step for leaders would be to report clearly to the board on the extent to which students are making accelerated progress.

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 is highly focused on improving teaching and learning throughout the school. Leaders provide clarity of direction to achieve the school’s vision. School-wide developments are well supported by effective school and department planning, coordination and evaluation. The roles and responsibilities of various staff are clearly established to achieve set priorities. Carefully designed professional learning programmes build the collective capacity of teachers and leaders to respond more effectively to the needs of students. Teachers and leaders undertake inquiries relevant to school goals for sustained improvement.

Trustees and senior leaders have a deliberate focus on students and staff wellbeing. Students actively participate in learning communities that are increasingly collaborative and inclusive. Their wellbeing is highly promoted and responded to through cohesive systems that are well aligned to the school values. Comprehensive student leadership supports the school vision of service to the community and the wellbeing of others.

Students have multiple opportunities to learn and achieve within the breadth and depth of the New Zealand Curriculum, in line with the school’s vision. Their achievements and successes are regularly celebrated. The school’s curriculum is increasingly responsive to the emerging needs of a changing student population profile.

Students benefit from and value the greater cohesion and communication between pastoral care, careers systems and their subject teachers. Improved assessment practices in the senior school have led to an increased focus on student engagement in deeper learning and opportunities for success.

Recent initiatives and improvements to school practices and processes include:

  • increased opportunities for broadening students’ learning pathways, including being able to access vocational pathways

  • expanding the Kohanga Ako (Special Needs) curriculum for greater equity of learning and success

  • English language learners having access to highly effective English language programmes, supporting their success in learning across the school while maintaining their own culture, language and identity

  • the appointment of a cultural diversity facilitator to support students and their families of different ethnicities within the school

  • purposeful opportunities for parents and whānau to be part of their children’s learning journey.

Trustees and school leaders have high expectations of staff and students, that the Riccarton Way values are followed by all within the school community. This enactment of the values is seen in the teachers’ professionalism, collaboration between the various groups in the school, and staff and students feeling well supported.

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

The school has identified (and ERO agrees) that they need to know more about the effectiveness of the Years 9 and 10 curriculum for the achievement of equity and excellence. Leaders and teachers need to scrutinise and evaluate Years 9 and 10 learning information more deeply to:

  • know if all students are making sufficient progress

  • review the support programmes to know what is working well and what needs improving.

The review of the Years 9 and 10 curriculum needs to include:

  • determining what a year’s progress looks like for Years 9 and Year 10 students

  • increasing the cohesion between learning support and ELL programmes to ensure student learning needs are appropriately met.

3 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 Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of students) Code of Practice 2016 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 69 international students attending the school.

Riccarton High School provides its international students with good pastoral care and education. Students progress and achieve well in English language learning. The director has identified the need to better gather the perspectives of the international students.

ERO’s audit of the school’s implementation of the Code identified the:

  • role of the director of international students needs to be more clearly defined

  • need to assure the board, through evaluation and reporting, on the achievement, pastoral wellbeing and integration of international students into the school community.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • using robust internal evaluation to improve teaching and learning

  • comprehensive strategic planning to guide areas under development

  • providing solid foundations for student wellbeing for success.

Next steps

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

  • ensuring an effective curriculum for students in Years 9 and 10.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

29 October 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary School (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 53% Boys: 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori: 10%
Pākehā: 43%
Pacific: 6%
Asian: 32%
Other ethnicities: 9%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes. The Kohanga Ako Unit is part of the school

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

29 October 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: July 2014
Education Review: June 2011
Education Review: May 2007

Riccarton High School - 29/07/2014

1 Context

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

Riccarton High School has a diverse mix of students. Students come from over 50 different ethnic groups, with a significant number having English as a second language. The multi-cultural nature of the school’s community helps to enrich student learning.

The values and attitudes promoted through the well-established “Riccarton Way” foster a positive, inclusive school culture. This culture actively promotes student engagement, participation and learning. The board, school leaders and staff are strongly committed to upholding school traditions that support students’ achievement and wellbeing.

Since the school’s June 2011 ERO review there have been a number of changes in staff. These include changes in deputy principals and some new heads of faculty and teaching staff. The school has a good mix of experienced and less experienced staff, along with capable school leaders, who are working together effectively to enhance the quality of education for students.

A strong ongoing focus on using ICT to support teaching and learning is having positive benefits for students and teachers. Leaders and teachers make good use of the school’s lodge on the West Coast to build relationships, engage students in learning and extend their interests and abilities.

The school has strong links with its local community. The shared school/community library provides unique opportunities for supporting and strengthening student learning, particularly in literacy and information skills.

The school is an active member of a cluster of local schools whose current focus is on promoting success for Pacific students.

The school has retained the variety of strengths noted in its last ERO report. Leaders and staff have made good progress towards improving those areas needing review and development.

2 Learning

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

Leaders and teachers are using achievement information increasingly effectively to respond in a timely and targeted way to the identified learning strengths and needs of students.

The effective use of achievement information is particularly evident in the well-considered actions being taken to raise student achievement at Level 1 of the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). These actions include:

  • gathering and using specific feedback from students about their learning experiences to improve programmes and practices
  • setting clear improvement targets and plans that incorporate high expectations
  • providing additional support for students who need extra help, and strengthening processes for tracking and reporting on students’ progress
  • introducing a number of worthwhile other initiatives to raise student achievement and the quality of qualifications being gained.

Leaders and teachers also make very good use of achievement information to acknowledge and celebrate successes in ways that motivate and further engage students.

The learning support, including English language learning programmes, provided for students with identified learning needs is a significant strength of the school. Effective leadership, specialist teachers and flexible, responsive structures and systems are focused on providing targeted teaching that matches students’ strengths, needs and interests. Students, including those with high special needs, benefit from the support they receive in terms of their progress, sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Areas for review and development

To enhance the quality of assessment practices and the use of achievement information school leaders and teachers should:

  • ensure that current initiatives to improve the quality and requirements of moderation processes are reviewed and reported on in robust and ongoing ways
  • extend the overall analysis of achievement trends and patterns for Year 9 and 10 students and provide more feedback to these students about their next learning steps.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effectively promoting and supporting student learning. Students experience a broad and balanced curriculum that incorporates a wide variety of rich learning opportunities both within and beyond the school. These opportunities reflect the school’s commitment to developing well-rounded learners and citizens.

An increasing range of learning options and vocational pathways is expanding opportunities for students to build on their strengths and follow their interests. The school’s curriculum gives appropriate emphasis to supporting the development of students’ literacy and numeracy skills.

There is now clearer evidence that teachers are more actively involving students in their learning than at the time of the school’s 2011 review. Purposeful teaching and positive learning environments are helping to motivate and engage students.

Students receive strong support for their career planning and development. Effective systems are in place for gathering and using a useful range of information that helps students choose courses related to their career goals and aspirations.

Student leadership and service to others is actively encouraged and successfully supported in a wide variety of ways. These opportunities are contributing to the development of skills and qualities that enable senior students in particular to effectively support junior students, participate in decision making and provide positive role models. These students appreciate the variety of leadership roles they undertake.

Students clearly benefit from the positive school culture. The active promotion of the school’s well-established values, positive relationships and inclusive practices create a supportive and caring environment for students. These features, along with strong pastoral care systems and practices, including services provided by the school’s youth workers, help to promote students’ sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Information provided by the school shows that student achievement over time is generally good to very good across senior levels. Within this overall pattern in 2013:

  • a high proportion of Year 13 school leavers went on to tertiary studies or employment
  • over three quarters of 18 year old students leave with NCEA Level 2 which is similar to other New Zealand schools
  • most students achieve well in literacy and numeracy at NCEA Level 1
  • as a group, Asian students are generally achieving above their peers in NCEA.

Students achieve some notable successes in a variety of cultural and sporting events, at individual, group and team levels.

Areas for review and development

School leaders and teachers should:

  • continue to update the school’s curriculum in ways that reflect the rich cultural diversity of students
  • link reviews more closely to how well school expectations are being met and refine some review formats to increase their usefulness.

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

The school is developing practices that are helping to foster the success of Māori students. Following a number of staff changes, there is now more stability in staffing and a clearer focus to further support Māori to succeed.

Factors that are promoting success for Māori students, and fostering their cultural pride include:

  • high expectations, the positive school culture and quality of relationships between and among adults and students
  • increasing evidence of their culture being acknowledged and celebrated
  • growing provisions for mentoring and supporting students.

Improvements in Māori student achievement are particularly evident at NCEA Level 1 in 2013 and in literacy achievement over their time at the school. Retention rates are high and continue to improve.

Area for review and development

The school is aware that it now needs to build on recent initiatives and extend provisions for consulting with Māori whānau. Leaders and teachers need to further integrate te reo and te ao Māori into classroom programmes and practices.

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

Recent initiatives provide a good basis for further supporting success for Pacific students.

Useful developments include:

  • the co-option of a Pacific representative to the board and the appointment of a Pacific coordinator
  • the efforts being made to acknowledge and support cultural pride
  • the establishment of a Pacific students’ homework club and provisions for tutorials
  • Pacific students’ level of participation in Polyfest, speech competitions and a Samoan language nest.

While Pacific students achieve at lower levels than their peers, in recent years increasing numbers of Pacific students are leaving with NCEA Level 2. Retention rates continue to improve.

Area for review and development

The school is aware it needs to build on the useful steps the board and school leaders have taken, and further develop plans for promoting success for Pacific students, including extending links with families.

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.

School trustees, leaders and staff, many of whom have a long association with the school, demonstrate a strong commitment to the school and its students. They work together effectively to build on the best of past and current practices and promote ongoing school improvement.

Strong professional leadership is evident across the school. This leadership is modelled by the principal, promoted by the senior leadership team and supported by a range of other school leaders, committees and teams. Leaders have high and clear expectations, are improvement focused and actively explore solutions to issues and concerns.

The school’s management structures support the effective operation of the school and sustainable practices. A variety of delegations give many staff suitable opportunities to use their strengths, follow their interests and undertake leadership roles.

Leadership and management practices foster a very positive school culture. Teamwork and a strong sense of collegiality and support are evident among staff. Many staff commented on how much they enjoy working at the school.

Professional development and support is enhancing teaching and learning. Reflective practices and self-review processes show the willingness of staff to critically evaluate and make ongoing improvements to teaching programmes and practices.

The board has strong governance practices. Trustees have the skills, knowledge and experiences necessary to perform their role well. Board responsibilities are well delegated. School plans clarify priorities and focus action. Self-review practices provide the board with useful information to inform their decisions.

Areas for review and development

The board and school leaders should:

  • consider ways of further reflecting the focus on building leadership capacity in key school plans and documents
  • consolidate and build on appraisal initiatives.

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

At the time of the review there were 50 international fee-paying students attending the school.

The school makes very good provision for supporting its international students, promoting their involvement in the life of the school and fostering their wellbeing and learning.

Area for review and development

School leaders need to extend their reporting to the board to include more details of the progress and achievement, wellbeing and integration of International fee-paying students.

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.

5 Conclusion

Riccarton High School has a diverse mix of students. This diversity enriches students’ learning. The school is effectively supporting student learning through providing a rich and varied curriculum. A positive school culture fosters students’ sense of wellbeing and belonging. 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

About the School


Sockburn, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13) - Co-educational

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls       57%
Boys      43%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other Asian
Other Ethnicities


Special Features

Adult Community Education (ACE) facility

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

29 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2011
May 2007
December 2003