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