Leeston School

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School Context

Leeston School is a rural school in the small Canterbury town of Leeston. It provides education for children in Years one to six. The school has a roll of 311 children, 15 percent of whom identify as Māori.

The school’s vision is to support children to become ‘Leeston Legends’ – leaders, engaged in their learning, gathering information from a variety of sources, excelling in their field, able to negotiate, being determined and celebrating their success. In addition the school aims to encourage all students to demonstrate the values of caring for the environment, each other and self.

To support these outcomes, the school’s recent strategic goals have been: raising student achievement (particularly for Māori and Pacific learners), provision of a broad, future-focussed curriculum (with a focus on science and digital technology), building student ownership of their learning, building cultural responsiveness, engagement with families and developing collaborative teaching practices.

To know about the school’s performance against these goals, leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • wellbeing

  • participation in a wide range of co-curricular activities.

The school is beginning to collect and report information on children’s developing science capabilities.

Since the 2014 ERO review it has had stable leadership and roll numbers. Staff have participated in sustained professional development in the areas of collaborative teaching practice, science teaching and integration of digital technologies.

The school is a member of the Ngā Mātāpuna o te Waihora Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning (CoL).

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 effectively supports most students to achieve a range of positive outcomes. However more work is needed to ensure Māori students, as a group, achieve equitably with other groups of students in the school.

School-wide learning information for the last three years shows:

  • most students achieve at the school’s expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics

  • the proportion of students achieving at expected levels has improved over time

  • a smaller proportion of Māori students achieve at expected levels in all three learning areas

  • a smaller proportion of boys, than girls, achieve at expected levels in writing

  • most children report positive wellbeing outcomes

  • planned actions to address disparity in the proportion of Māori children and boys achieving at expected levels are yet to be successful.

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

It is unclear how effective the school is in accelerating the learning of those children needing to achieve at expected levels. The school is in the process of developing systems to better evaluate the rate of accelerated progress for identified individual and groups of children.

Existing systems are used well to identify children at risk of poor learning outcomes, to track their levels of achievement and to allocate appropriate learning support.

School information indicates that many children receiving learning support make positive gains in aspects of their learning. For example, a school-wide focus on practical hands-on science education resulted in improved engagement, confidence and science and literacy achievement for a number of targeted learners. The school’s next step is to evaluate how well these gains are sustained and contribute to raised achievement or improved rates of progress over time.

Children with high learning needs are well supported to make progress against individual learning goals.

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’s broad, localised and future-focused curriculum effectively promotes children’s engagement and learning. Teachers use their knowledge of children’s interests, needs and abilities to plan authentic, experiential learning. Good use is made of the local environment and community to provide meaningful contexts for learning. Children have increasing opportunities to develop their science and digital technology capabilities, and to participate in a wide range of sporting, cultural and environmental programmes.

The school’s care values are well embedded throughout the curriculum and are successfully supporting children’s wellbeing, inclusion and positive relationships. The values are explicitly taught, modelled and celebrated. The board of trustees prioritises funding to provide and sustain learning support for children needing additional help. This is being used well to ensure these children have equitable opportunity to participate and learn alongside their peers. Teachers work constructively with a range of external specialists to develop individual plans and teaching strategies to meet the needs of these children.

A strong commitment to ongoing teacher development is contributing to a positive learning culture focused on improvement and effective teaching. Professional learning is well-planned and resourced and linked to improving student outcomes. Teachers are inquiring in more depth into the effectiveness of their teaching. They are using a range of evidence-based teaching practices to promote students’ engagement and learning. A collaborative professional culture enables teachers to share good practices and try new approaches.

School leaders ensure an orderly and supportive environment conducive to the learning and wellbeing of children and adults. These conditions have been well sustained in the period since the 2014 ERO review. Leaders model and lead the school values. They build relational trust with children, families, teachers and the wider community. They recognise teacher strengths and actively build leadership capability at different levels in the school. Key school developments are well considered and planned for.

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers need to extend the analysis of learning information to:

  • know about the sufficiency of progress of all students, in particular those targeted for acceleration

  • further support rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of programmes and planned actions to accelerate learning.

The board, leaders and teachers need to continue to build on existing strategies for developing learning-focused partnerships with Māori children and their whānau.

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.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO‘s overall evaluation judgement of Leeston 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.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the provision of a broad, responsive and future-focused curriculum that promotes engagement and learning

  • a well-established, positive learning culture supporting learning and wellbeing outcomes

  • ongoing development of evidence-based, effective teaching practice.

Next steps

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

  • improved analysis of learning information to know about the sufficiency of progress of all students, particularly those whose learning is targeted for acceleration

  • improved evaluation of planned actions to accelerate learning

  • continuing to build effective learning partnerships with Māori learners and their whānau.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

17 April 2019

About the school


Leeston, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type


School roll


Gender composition

Girls 48%, Boys 52%

Ethnic composition

Māori 15%

Pākehā 84%

Other ethnicities 9%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

February 2019

Date of this report

17 April 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review October 2014

Education Review August 2011

Education Review May 2008

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