Halcombe Primary School - 18/07/2012

1. Context

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

Halcombe School is located not far from Feilding, in rural Manawatu, and provides education for students from Years 1 to 8. The environment is spacious, attractively presented and caters well for a wide range of interests, activities and learning needs. Aspects that particularly support teaching and learning include facilities for implementing programmes in environmental education, physical education, the arts and technology, and full resourcing of information and communication technologies (ICT).

The February 2009 ERO report affirmed the quality of teaching and learning. Standardised data available indicated that students tested, performed well in comparison with national norms for reading and mathematics. Next steps for development focused on evaluation of inquiry learning and working with the Māori community to support achievement. Since then, board and staff composition have changed. Of the seven class teachers, four are being supported by the experienced teachers to work toward full registration.

Community relationships and input positively support the vision to foster ‘confident, actively involved, connected learners’. The wider school community contributes substantially to the board’s resourcing of annual priorities. The principal is a long-serving member of this school and has shared high expectations for its performance. Teachers form an energetic team. Students are enthusiastic participants in school life, show care for and pride in their environment.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students engage well in curriculum activities. They work independently and cooperatively and are able to use the given tools for self-monitoring. They speak knowledgeably and confidently about their achievement and progress toward individual goals. The learning environment is characterised by a high level of industry and self-management. Students derive satisfaction from their efforts and achievements.

Collated and analysed student test data in reading and mathematics continues to compare favourably with nationally referenced information. In November 2011, the basis for determining student performance changed from selected year-level tests to overall judgements in relation to the National Standards, using multiple sources of information.

While processes are new to teachers, work in moderating writing, and more recently mathematics and reading assessments, has produced good quality baseline information for reporting, monitoring and planning. From this data the school reports that most students, in the group who had completed their first to eighth years, were meeting or exceeding the National Standards in the three curriculum areas. Performance in mathematics and reading is strong. Performance in writing needs more development to be at the same level.

Further work with the National Standards will need to encompass:

  • tracking progress over time and showing difference for individual students from entry to school until the end of Year 8
  • inquiring into reasons for emerging achievement patterns to inform choices of teaching strategies for identified groups as well as individuals
  • reporting annually to the board using the legislated scale to more precisely identify needs for acceleration and challenge and show progress
  • ensuring consistency in the analysis for tracking and comparing performance of students overall and of significant groups.

Assessment is used appropriately to identify students who are not likely to meet, or are not meeting, the National Standards in literacy and mathematics. Processes begin immediately after entry at age five and continue throughout the eight years so that assistance for fostering success is timely and specific to needs. Progress is tracked through individual education plans and teachers’ monitoring information. It would be useful to collate progress information on these students to evaluate and report the difference made as a result of resource allocation.

3. Curriculum

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

Students are offered a broad curriculum and a wide range of opportunities that consider learning within their rural context. In addition to literacy and numeracy, emphasis is given to relevant education outside the classroom through programmes that connect students to the world beyond their school. Effective use is made of wider community resources and ICT in teaching and learning to enhance these links.

Teaching and classroom management foster student development of key competencies, skills and attitudes for learning and achievement. Teachers are well prepared for instruction. Their delivery demonstrates sound knowledge of subject content and strategies for engaging students successfully. The purpose of lessons is clear, as are the high expectations held for learning, productivity and behaviour. Students know the routines, go about their work efficiently and assist each other without prompting. Interactions are encouraging and classrooms are settled, positive environments.

Teachers know their students well. They compile rich pastoral and academic information on individuals and regularly reflect on this to develop or improve programme effectiveness. As a team, teachers are revisiting how overall curriculum delivery is planned. The scope and focus of this process should include how discretely-provided programmes could be better integrated within contexts for inquiry. For example, technology, ‘green’ activities, te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and careers education could be interconnected and used advantageously to support key ideas. Students could be encouraged to extend their self-management skills through involvement in programme design that allows for exploration of individual passions or interests.

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

Since the previous ERO review, the number of Māori students on the roll has decreased. The 15% who identify as Māori have diverse iwi and marae affiliations. The school’s reporting history with ERO indicates that consultation has been mostly with individual parents for sharing student progress and achievement. This remains the case.

Māori student performance in reading, writing and mathematics is similar to that for all students in that mathematics is strongest and writing needs considerable development. However, more work is required to address the noticeable disparity in achievement in reading and writing. Whānau were invited to a hui in term one, 2012, to discuss setting a target for raising Māori student achievement. Preferred means for setting a vision, aspirations, targets and plans to promote success should be explored further.

Māori students engage in opportunities for success in the wider curriculum. As seniors, they are role models, councillors, house captains and undertake responsibilities or duties around the school. Students share their expertise in te reo Māori pronunciation, te reo kori and kapa haka. In these ways, the presence of Māori is visible. Greater links could be made between the charter commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and recognition of biculturalism in the curriculum and environment.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

ERO reports since 2005 indicate sustained high expectations for teaching, behaviour, achievement, provision of resources and standard of environment. The principal gives strong direction to trustees on governance matters. Her reports provide analysed information and recommended responses to the findings. Next steps are embedded in the annual plan. A cycle of review and development is established.

Growth of board capacity for sustaining and improving performance is timely. Trustees have recently reflected on their collective role. Next steps for board consideration are how effectively the documented governance framework:

  • outlines key priorities and outcomes
  • manages progress toward the goals
  • assists evaluation of effectiveness to inform the next cycle of review and development.

This work should include thinking about how well policies reflect current practice and how efficiently quality assurance systems are used for monitoring and informing direction. Much documentation of processes could be streamlined for easier access to the information needed and clarity about outcomes achieved.

The principal keeps the board and community regularly and fully informed of school matters. Parents and whānau have varied opportunities to connect with the school, learn about curriculum development, their child’s progress and achievement and how they can support learning at home. Parents who attended a meeting with ERO confirmed that the environment is warm and welcoming, that new families feel at ease quickly and that their children feel purposeful and happy.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Findings arising from the review, significant for contributing to school performance, are that:

  • the principal did not have a written performance agreement with the board. This has subsequently been addressed
  • due to the late implementation of National Standards, the board had not yet received an annual report that provided information about student achievement using the full, legislated scale.

To improve current practice the board of trustees should:

  • with appropriate timeliness, annually develop and sign, with the principal, a written performance agreement that is linked to the professional standards and outlines key objectives and success indicators that assist the monitoring and evaluation of progress toward school goals
  • ensure that it receives collated and analysed student achievement reports that show the achievement distribution according to the given scale.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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


Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

18 July 2012


About the School


Halcombe, Feilding

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 51%,

Female 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā



South African





Review team on site

May 2012

Date of this report

18 July 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

February 2009

November 2005

March 2003