Hillcrest Normal School

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School Context

Hillcrest Normal School is located in Hamilton and provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. The school’s current roll of 604 students includes 11% Māori, 29% Asian and a large number of students from a range of other diverse cultural backgrounds. Approximately 15% of the school’s roll comprises of students who are English language learners.

The school has a close professional partnership with the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, providing support and mentoring for teacher trainees.

The school’s vision of ‘growing creative learners from within’ aims to provide a holistic learning environment that encompasses the whole child, recognises individual strengths and interests, and fosters a lifelong love of learning. The school’s values of succeed, honour, imagine, nurture and explore, create opportunities for children to ‘shine’.

The school’s strategic goals focus on engaging students to be successful through a rich curriculum and embracing creativity and innovation. Goals are also prioritised for strengthening teacher capability and developing strong community partnerships.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics
  • science and social sciences.

Since the previous review in 2015, there have been some changes to staffing and stewardship. A new principal was appointed in term 4 of 2015 and almost all trustees were new to their roles in 2016. The school has carried out review and development of its vision, values and charter. Leaders and teachers have undertaken professional learning and development in literacy, appreciative inquiry and dramatic inquiry.

The school is a member of the Hillcrest Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL) and Waimac (Waikato Māori Achievement Cluster).

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 achieving excellent outcomes for most students and is working towards equity for all.

The school’s data from 2015 to 2017 shows most Māori and other students are achieving at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. High levels of achievement have remained consistent over the past three years. Disparity in achievement for Māori students with their Pākehā peers has decreased over time in writing. However, significant disparity still remains in reading and mathematics. There has been improvement in the achievement of Asian students in literacy and boys in writing and mathematics. Boys and girls are achieving at comparable levels in reading. Girls are achieving at higher levels than boys in writing. Almost all boys are achieving at or above expected levels in mathematics and are significantly outperforming girls.

The school’s data for 2018 also shows high levels of achievement in science and social sciences.

School’s overtime data indicates that by the time students reach the end of Year 6, almost all are achieving at expected levels in all areas.

Students with additional needs are well supported and make appropriate progress in relation to their individual goals.

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

The school is accelerating learning for some Māori and other students who need it.

The school’s analysed data from February 2017 to September 2018 shows accelerated progress for some Māori students in reading and other students in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students who were identified as at risk in 2018 have made accelerated progress in their learning with approximately half accelerating in reading and the majority in writing. This analysis was completed by leaders during the review.

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 leadership team provides effective leadership for learning and teaching. Leaders build teacher and leadership capability through intentional professional learning, coaching and mentoring. There are strong systems in place for the identification and monitoring of students’ progress and achievement. Leaders have high expectations and an ongoing commitment to extending learning for students to achieve excellent outcomes.

The board provides a well-resourced educational environment. Views and aspirations gathered through consultation with the school community inform strategic planning and direction. Positive relationships between leaders, teachers, trustees and parents contribute to collaborative and cohesive partnerships for learning. A well-managed and supportive learning environment enables equitable opportunities for students to learn and experience success.

Teachers use deliberate strategies to enhance learning. A range of appropriate assessment information is used to inform programme planning. Students at-risk are clearly identified and targeted intervention supports acceleration in learning. Students with additional learning needs including English Language Learners are well integrated and supported to achieve and make progress. Ongoing liaison with outside agencies supports students’ learning and behavioural needs. Regular opportunities for parents to be involved and informed of their children’s progress, enables positive partnerships for learning. Warm and respectful relationships between teachers and students contribute to calm and settled learning environments.

The school’s curriculum provides a wide range of experiences and authentic contexts for learning. Students have many opportunities to experience rich cultural, sporting and outdoor education activities. A strong focus is placed on creativity and the arts which supports students’ interests, strengths and caters for different learning styles. Cultural diversity for Māori and other groups of students is acknowledged and integrated into the life of the school through festivals and celebrations. The school’s holistic approach to learning enables excellent outcomes with high levels of student engagement and wellbeing.

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

Leaders and teachers should now:

  • further develop use of student achievement data to report on rates of progress and acceleration for at-risk students, and review the effectiveness of the teaching and learning initiatives for these students
  • continue to strengthen students’ understanding of their own learning , especially for those at risk.

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 International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) 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 seven international students attending the school.

The school has a well-considered approach for the provision of pastoral care, quality of education and student involvement throughout the school and into the community. Students are well monitored and supported.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership for learning that promotes excellent outcomes for students
  • a rich and inclusive curriculum that enables high levels of student engagement
  • teaching practice that responds to individual students’ needs and supports their learning success.

Next steps

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

  • accelerating the progress of at-risk students to address in-school disparity for Māori, particularly in reading and mathematics
  • embedding a consistent approach to strategies which promote learner agency.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

28 November 2018

About the school

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

1739

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

604

Gender composition

Girls 49% Boys 51%

Ethnic composition

Māori 11%
Pākehā 49%
Chinese 14%
Indian 8%
Sri Lankan 3%
Other 15%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

28 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2014
Education Review February 2010

Findings

Hillcrest Normal School provides high-quality, inclusive education within a rich curriculum. Sound systems and practices promote student safety and wellbeing, and there are respectful and caring relationships among students, their families and staff. Students achieve very well and carefully designed programmes respond to identified student needs and abilities.

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

1 Context

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

Hillcrest Normal School is located in eastern Hamilton and provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. At the time of this ERO review, 611 students were enrolled. This included 51 Māori and 137 Asian students. Seven international fee-paying students and 106 students funded to learn English as a second language (ESOL) attend the school. There is an agreement with the Ministry of Education that specifies geographical boundaries for enrolment.

The school has close links with the University of Waikato. School leaders and teachers have a key role in supporting the teacher training programme. The school is also actively developing links with Asian countries to support the significant number of Asian students and their families attending the school.

The school’s aim to develop ‘resilient and resourceful learners who are meeting challenges and achieving success’ underpins all areas of school operation. Students are expected to be active learners who take an increasing responsibility for their learning within a broad, balanced curriculum. The school and its community promote a culture of high expectations for student achievement.

Since the last ERO review in 2010, there has been consistency of leadership and staffing, providing strong continuity for students and families. Trustees bring a range of relevant skills and experience to school governance. An active Parent Teacher Association makes a significant contribution through fundraising and support of school events. There has been significant property development resulting in enhanced teaching and learning spaces, including the outdoor environment. School facilities are well used by families and the wider community.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO and has made considerable progress since the last ERO review in 2010.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information very well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

School leaders and teachers have developed highly effective processes for making overall teacher judgements about students’ learning and achievement. Teachers analyse the resulting information and use it well to identify student abilities and needs, to group students, and plan appropriate programmes. They also use this information to review the effectiveness of their practice and to make adjustments to their teaching as needed. Leaders collate and analyse school-wide data and plan appropriate support programmes. The board of trustees are well informed about student achievement and uses this information to make appropriate decisions about charter development, target setting and resourcing.

Students’ diverse needs and abilities are well identified and catered for through highly responsive programmes and interventions. The Special Education Needs’ Coordinator (SENCO) has developed good systems for identifying, monitoring and tracking the progress and achievement of students with recognised needs and abilities. Inclusive programmes and practices provide positive transition for new students into the school at all levels.

Parents are well informed about their children’s learning, progress and achievement. There are many opportunities for students, their teachers and parents to share and celebrate student success, set goals, and discuss how learning can be supported in the home.

The school reported at the end of 2013 that the significant majority of students, including Māori, were achieving at and above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics, and well above national comparisons.

3 Curriculum

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

Hillcrest Normal School’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting student learning. It is well designed and reflects the values, principles and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum and local priorities. The curriculum aims to support students to develop as creative solution seekers who are connected to their local and global world. It is underpinned by strategic goals for Asian students, sustainability and includes a strong bicultural base.

Priority is given to effective teaching of literacy and mathematics, and then science, health and physical education. Student learning is further enriched through blended e-learning, parent and community expertise, the highly successful Enviroschools programme and authentic social action within the school and the wider community. There are extensive opportunities for extra-curricular activities, including sports, arts and student leadership.

A feature of the school is the respectful and caring relationships between teachers and students. Teachers are culturally aware and responsive to all students. They set high expectations for learning and behaviour, and encourage student creativity, curiosity and risk taking in their learning.

Students benefit from high standards of teaching practice. There is a strong professional learning culture and commitment to teachers’ own learning and improvement. Teachers engage in professional learning and development, including research projects, which enables them to think and reflect critically about their teaching practice. Ongoing self review of curriculum delivery and teaching practices is used to improve learning and outcomes for all students.

Classroom management is focused on learning and values, and promotes the wellbeing of students. ERO observed examples of highly effective formative assessment practice where teachers and students discuss goals, progress, achievements and next steps in learning. The school recognises the need to continue the development of these practices across the school.

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

The school has a strategic focus to strengthen teachers’ capabilities to integrate bicultural practices into all aspects of the curriculum. The commitment of the principal and teachers to promote success for Māori, as Māori, is resulting in the authentic inclusion of Māori values and perspectives at all levels of the school. Recent self review about Māori success and regular whānau hui take account of whānau aspirations, and have identified successful practices and plans for future direction.

Te reo Māori and Māori perspectives are highly evident and interwoven in the curriculum and school environment. Māori students are well represented in the extensive leadership roles throughout the school. There are opportunities to participate in kapa haka, te reo classes for Years 5 and 6 students as part of a languages' option, and noho marae. Authentic contexts to use and observe Māori protocols within the school and wider community affirm Māori students as tangata whenua and provide further leadership opportunities.

School leaders plan to embed, sustain and grow bicultural practices. ERO endorses this as a priority for ongoing development in this area.

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 because:

  • well-informed and knowledgeable trustees have a strategic approach to school development and are focused on enhancing outcomes for all students
  • the principal is future focused and clearly expresses the school’s mission and vision, and expected outcomes for all learners
  • the principal is well supported by a highly effective leadership team
  • teacher and leadership capability are built through well-developed processes and practices that include professional development, mentoring, modelling and in-depth inquiry into practice
  • a high level of teacher collaboration focuses on improving outcomes for all students
  • all school operations and systems are closely linked to the school’s strategic direction
  • the principal, senior leaders and teachers have developed a culture of critical reflection and self review resulting in high-quality curriculum implementation
  • a safe and inclusive culture actively engages parents, whānau and community in partnerships that enhance learning.

The school leadership and ERO have identified that it is important to continue the move towards personalised learning for all students, with school-wide consistency, where students can increasingly talk about and own their learning.

Trustees could enhance their self review by including broader perspectives and more critical reflection in relation to school governance.

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 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this ERO review there were seven international students attending the school.

There are highly effective systems in place to provide pastoral care and education for these students. ESOL programmes are well designed and implemented to support students to be confident and successful learners and participants in classroom programmes and the wider life of the school. The teacher with responsibility for international students, in cooperation with classroom teachers, the ESOL teacher and learning assistants, closely monitors students’ achievement and wellbeing. She also undertakes comprehensive induction for students and their families. The school has a significant number of students for whom English is an additional language. Regular gatherings for ESOL parents are facilitated by the school. These meetings support social interaction and networking among families, and provide opportunities to learn about teaching approaches and The New Zealand Curriculum.

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.

Conclusion

Hillcrest Normal School provides high-quality, inclusive education within a rich curriculum. Sound systems and practices promote student safety and wellbeing, and there are respectful and caring relationships among students, their families and staff. Students achieve very well and carefully designed programmes respond to identified student needs and abilities.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

7 October 2014

About the School

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

1739

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

611

Number of international students

7

Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

Other

8%

62%

23%

1%

6%

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

7 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2010

November 2006

February 2004