St Teresa's School (Riccarton)

St Teresa's School (Riccarton) - 24/05/2016

1 Context

St Teresa’s School serves a multicultural community of learners. Children learn in cross-age groupings within the school’s junior and senior teaching teams.

Improvements have been made to school buildings and resources in an effort to foster collaborative teaching and learning. This includes two new classrooms for older children.

The school’s roll is growing and includes an increasingly diverse range of children with a variety of strengths and needs. Staff and board members are representative of the range of ethnic backgrounds within the school community. The school has forged close links with its parent community, the local parish and schools.

The school has a positive ERO reporting history. Continuity in practices is promoted by the school’s long-serving principal and chairperson.

At the time of this review the school had ten Māori learners. Four of these children have been at the school just over 12 months. A key member of staff provides regular support for Māori learners and staff to help promote te ao Māori.

2 Equity and excellence

The school seeks to promote a community of life-long learners where the teachings of Jesus are valued and respected.

The school’s valued outcomes for all students include supporting them to:

  • develop a strong sense of self worth and become spiritually strong
  • be effective communicators and well prepared for the future
  • be proud of their culture and to value the cultures of others
  • be environmentally active and globally connected.

The school also has 17 virtues that they want to foster with their children.

The school’s achievement information shows that generally Māori children are achieving lower than their peers. Most achieve above the National Standards in reading and mathematics. Many of these children have made accelerated progress in some aspects of their literacy and mathematics learning during their time at the school. Māori learners demonstrate significant pride in their culture.

For other children most are achieving at or above the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. Asian and Pacific children achieve as well as their peers in literacy.

Achievement patterns over the last three years have been most consistent in mathematics. A significant number of learners continue to achieve above the National Standards in reading.

Variation in achievement patterns over the last two years has been greatest in literacy where there has been a drop in achievement. This variation is partly a result of ongoing changes in the school’s roll, the increasing numbers of children for whom English is not their first language and teachers using more robust assessment practices.

Good achievement in other areas is most evident in the successful participation of many children in a variety of physical activities and their ability to use digital technologies to support their learning. Many children have also successfully taken part in school productions and regional cultural festivals. Older children successfully undertake a range of leadership roles.

Since the school’s last ERO evaluation the school has retained and built on the strengths evident at that time. Leaders have improved the school’s curriculum and self-review practices. School-wide professional development has resulted in some significant changes and improvements to teaching programmes and practices.

The board and school leaders are confident that recent improvements to teaching programmes and practices will result in better outcomes for children. They should continue to give close attention to evaluating the impact of these initiatives.

3 Accelerating achievement

The school is very responsive to children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Leaders and teachers know their learners and their parents very well. They accurately identify and actively respond to children’s learning needs. An increasing range of additional support is helping many children, including Maori, to make accelerated progress in aspects of their learning.

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

A variety of practices are supporting Maori children to experience success, including success as Maori, and make progress. These include:

  • the school’s strong focus on, and success in, promoting cultural pride and respect
  • the active promotion of children’s language, culture and identity
  • the way biculturalism is successfully integrated throughout the curriculum
  • the supportive relationships between school leaders, teachers and the parents of Māori children that is fostered through regular communication and parent forums
  • teaching practices based on research about how best to support Māori children and their learning.

A more specific plan for accelerating Maori student progress would help to build on the best of existing practices.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has good systems in place to identify, respond and track the progress of other children whose learning needs acceleration. Teachers use a range of strategies to provide additional individual support to these children, including help for children whose first language is not English. This support includes assistance within groups, specific targeted interventions and the use of external expertise and advice.

Reports to the board about the additional learning support for some children tend to describe what is happening rather evaluating its effectiveness. More comment on the impact of this support on children’s learning would make these reports more useful.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence?

School conditions actively support the enactment of the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities.

Leaders and teachers have created a welcoming and inclusive school environment that fosters a family-like atmosphere and a strong sense of community. This environment is promoted by the school's emphasis on values and virtues, respectful relationships and strong pastoral care. Children's opinions are sought and valued.

Collaborative practices promote collective responsibility for student wellbeing and learning. Children’s successes are celebrated and they demonstrate pride in their achievements and their school. These features, along with good routines, help to maximise the time children spend engaged in learning.

The school’s curriculum provides children with a rich and suitably varied range of learning opportunities. These opportunities are consistent with the school’s vision and the learner qualities they seek to foster. Teachers give strong emphasis to religious education, literacy and mathematics, physical education, health and children’s wellbeing.

Other strengths of the curriculum include the:

  • way in which teachers make learning meaningful through integrating studies and linking activities to children's everyday lives
  • appropriate range of opportunities children have to take responsibility for their learning and to learn with and from their peers.
  • way in which children’s learning is enriched through the recognition and celebration of their various cultures
  • school’s innovative and interesting religious education programme.

A focus on personal goal setting, the development of problem solving skills, and the practical application of knowledge and skills helps to motivate learners and promote their independence.

Professional development successfully supports teachers to extend the range of up-to-date teaching practices they use to promote student progress and achievement. These include:

  • shared planning and clearly focused teaching
  • using achievement information to continually adapt to programmes and groupings in response to children's strengths and needs
  • increasing use of a variety of resources, including digital technologies, to enhance teaching and learning.

The principal, with the support of other school leaders, provides effective professional leadership that continues to facilitate ongoing school improvement. Their decision making is underpinned by a strong focus on promoting positive outcomes for all children and creating conditions that support this. 

Other features of school leadership include:

  • clear and high expectations for staff and for children
  • the effective use of staff strengths
  • relationships and collaborative practices that promote a strong sense of teamwork
  • well-considered, planned and evaluated approaches to developments.

School leaders are successfully building their own and other teachers’ capability and collective capacity. A wide range of both internal and external professional development that is well targeted and resourced, is deepening teachers understanding of the curriculum and best teaching practices. Professional conversations and reflective practices promote thoughtful decision making.

In-depth curriculum reviews have helped to confirm strengths and identify further ways to promote excellence and equity. Leaders act on review findings.

The board performs its role effectively. Trustees are kept well informed through regular reports. They are very responsive to requests for additional resourcing that focuses on enhancing learning experiences for children and responding to identified needs.

Positive relationships exist between the board, the school, the staff and the parish. The involvement of school personal in the wider educational community is supporting their efforts to promote equity and excellence. Leaders and teachers build supportive relationships with parents and actively provide pastoral and practical help to many families.

Leaders and teachers are giving appropriate emphasis to further exploring ways of promoting learning focused partnerships with parents and whānau.

The board, senior leadership team and ERO agree that to continue to promote ongoing school improvement, they should:

  • give priority to embedding and building on recent curriculum initiatives
  • extend the range of information the board receives about student achievement and progress in areas beyond literacy and mathematics
  • work on further refining the school’s charter and plans in ways that clarify, support and help to evaluate the achievement of key strategic priorities

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children who need their learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

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

6 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 the following:

  • Board administration.

  • Curriculum.

  • Management of health, safety and welfare.

  • Personnel management.

  • 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.

  • Processes for appointing staff.

  • Stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.

  • Attendance.

  • Compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

  • Provision for international students.

International Students

The school is a signatory to the Code for International Students. At the time of the review, there were no international students.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

24 May 2016

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Integrated Roman Catholic - Full Primary (Y1-8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 55%; Boys 45%

Ethnic composition











Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

24 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2012

June 2008

March 2005

St Teresa's School (Riccarton) - 11/12/2012

1 Context

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

The principal with the support of the board, staff and the parish community strongly promote the school’s Catholic character. This is particularly evident in the responsive and caring relationships that exist throughout the school. Students come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. The way students cultures are recognised and celebrated enriches the learning of all students.

The school’s roll continues to increase steadily. This growth has created issues around the number of indoor teaching spaces available for learning activities. This situation has been partly alleviated by the recently built school library.

The board, school leaders and staff have been particularly responsive to the needs of others arising from the Canterbury earthquakes. They have accommodated other schools, the Royal Commission of Inquiry and a local business within the school grounds.

The school has made significant progress in addressing the recommendations from the 2008 ERO report. This progress is most evident in improvements to the quality of teaching, in the provisions for students who do not have English as their first language and the inclusion and promotion of bicultural perspectives in the school’s curriculum.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Teachers use a variety of ways that help to successfully engage students. They provide activities that take into account students’ interests, and expose them to a variety of new experiences. They interact with students in ways that help to motivate them and often make learning fun. Year 8 students, in particular, have good opportunities to develop leadership skills and contribute to decision making.

The principal and teachers make effective use of achievement information to set clear targets for accelerating student progress. They develop focused plans to support students to achieve these targets and monitor closely the progress and achievement of all students, including Māori and Pacific. Teachers provide useful, targeted, additional learning support for selected students. These students made very good progress in written language in 2012 as a result of this extra support and focused teaching.

The principal and teachers use a suitable range of practices to help them to assess and report student progress and achievement accurately, including their achievement against the National Standards. These practices include:

  • informative student learning journals that include samples of work that have been assessed by the students, often their peers and also their teachers
  • consistent assessment practices that include the moderation of teachers’ judgements about students’ literacy and mathematics achievement
  • the three-way conferences between parents, teachers and students that provide good opportunities for discussion and goal setting.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effectively promoting and supporting students' learning. This is increasingly evident as teachers apply the knowledge and skills gained from ongoing professional development.

The school’s curriculum is well designed and results in students receiving a balanced and suitably varied range of learning experiences. There are clear expectations for student learning and helpful guidelines for teachers. The integration of activities contributes to making learning meaningful. The school’s special character is successfully promoted. A range of recent initiatives is helping to improve learning opportunities for students in literacy, physical education and te reo and tikanga Māori.

Teachers consistently use many effective teaching practices. They create positive class environments and foster supportive relationships that maintain a strong focus on learning. Teachers’ planning is well-targeted and activities are purposeful. Teachers give appropriate emphasis to fostering students’ ability to become independent, life-long learners. Teachers regularly reflect on the effectiveness of their programmes and practices and make ongoing adjustments to these.

Area for review and development

Parts of the school’s curriculum guidelines could be improved. As the curriculum continues to be reviewed, more consideration needs to be given to clarifying what counts as high quality teaching as teachers' understanding of this increases through ongoing professional development.

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

The principal and staff are developing confidence, understanding and knowledge in the use of te reo Māori to promote the language, identity and culture of Māori students to succeed as Māori. Other school wide initiatives are also helping to ensure that these aspects are embedded in the school’s curriculum. They include professional development, regular hui with parents, a well supported kapa haka group and planning for and implementation of te reo Māori in all classrooms.

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 provides strong professional leadership that is promoting ongoing school improvement. Leadership and management practices foster a high level of teamwork and trust amongst staff. There is a growing use of staff strengths to improve the quality of teaching and class programmes. Staff have good opportunities for professional development and to receive feedback about their teaching. Teachers regularly reflect on their practice. There is a range of suitable provisions for ongoing curriculum self review.

A strong partnership exists between the board, the principal and staff. The board practices that promote good governance include:

  • the informative reports the principal presents to support decision making
  • the leadership and support provided by the chairperson and the current efforts to update the strategic goals
  • trustees' responsiveness to requests for additional staff and resources to improve student learning
  • the good provisions for updating board policies, reviewing the school’s special character and appraising the principal’s performance.
Area for review and development

Refinements to self-review practices could improve the quality and usefulness of self review. For example:

  • further clarifying the purpose of each review to better focus investigations
  • in some instances, better success criteria/indicators could be used for evaluating the effectiveness of programmes and practices
  • better analysis of survey results and more critical analysis of review findings would increase their usefulness for decision making.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. No international students were enrolled at the time of this ERO review.

The principal has met the annual review requirements and this has been acknowledged formally by the Ministry of Education.

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.
When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

11 December 2012

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 56%; Boys 44%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā










Latin American
















Special Features

Integrated Catholic School

Review team on site

October 2012

Date of this report

11 December 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2008

March 2005

May 2002