Hamilton Boys' High School - 18/09/2019

School Context

Hamilton Boys’ High School is a single-sex boys’ secondary school providing education for students from Years 9 to 13. It is located in Hamilton East. The school has a diverse ethnic roll of 2048 students, including 23% Māori and 6% of students with Pacific heritage.

The school’s stated mission is to provide students with an academic education which will enable them to become life-long, successful learners, and prepare them to face challenges with confidence, compassion and integrity. The school’s values are excellence, service, and strength. Its motto is ‘Sapiens fortunam fingit sibi’ (A wise man carves his own fortune| He tangata maarama maana e whakairo toona ara).

The school’s strategic goals for 2019 include:

  • ensuring equity and excellence for all students through the use of data-based inquiry and effective, relevant teaching strategies
  • improving student pastoral care through consistent application of school standards for all students
  • increasing student engagement.

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

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework
  • achievement in the Cambridge International Exams.

Since the previous ERO review in 2014, two new deputy principals have been appointed to the executive team. The recently-elected board of trustees is mostly comprised of first-term representatives.

The school is a member of the He Piko He Taniwha 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 is achieving excellent outcomes for most students and is working towards equitable outcomes for all.

The school’s standardised entry testing data in numeracy and literacy shows that an increasingly significant number of students enter the school at Year 9 achieving below expected national curriculum levels. However, achievement data over the last three years shows that most students achieve well at all levels of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

In 2018, enrolment-based achievement data shows that almost all students achieved at NCEA Levels 1 and 2, and most students achieved at NCEA Level 3. Almost half of Hamilton Boys’ High School students achieved merit or excellence endorsements in Levels 1 and 3, and one third achieved merit or excellence endorsements in Level 2. These patterns of achievement have remained consistent over time.

Enrolment-based data since 2016 shows that more than half of Hamilton Boys’ High School students achieved University Entrance (UE).

Achievement data for 2018 shows some disparity between Māori and their Pākehā peers in NCEA level 1 and level 2 however in previous years the achievement levels were comparable.

Data over time shows significant disparity at NCEA Level 3 and in UE where Māori and Pacific students are achieving less well than their Pākehā peers. Enrolment-based data since 2016 shows that approximately two thirds of Māori and Pacific students achieved NCEA Level 3. In 2018, approximately one third of Māori and Pacific students and two thirds of Pākehā students achieved UE.

School leavers’ data since 2016 shows that almost all students leave the school with a minimum of an NCEA Level 2 qualification, including most Māori and Pacific students.

The school continues to achieve a large number of scholarships each year across a range of subject areas in the New Zealand Scholarship examinations. In 2018, Hamilton Boys’ High School students gained 78 scholarships, including seven outstanding.

Approximately one quarter of the senior students at Hamilton Boys’ High School enter the Cambridge International Examination (CIE). The school’s 2018 data shows that all students who entered the Year 11 IGCSE exam passed, and most students who entered the AS level exam in Years 12 and 13 passed.

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

The school is able to show effective acceleration for those Māori and other students who need this.

The school’s achievement data from 2016 to 2018 shows that the majority of students who began at Hamilton Boys’ High School in Year 9 and remained until year 12, and whose learning was at risk, made sufficient accelerated progress to achieve a minimum of an NCEA Level 2 qualification.

In 2018, the school effectively accelerated more than one third of at-risk Māori students and approximately two thirds of at-risk Pacific and Pākehā students, who had been at the school from Year 9 to Year 12.

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?

Students learn in an orderly and well-resourced environment. Consistent routines and clear expectations for behaviour create calm, focused classrooms which are conducive to learning. Teachers utilise instructional teaching strategies, together with individual support for students when needed. There are highly respectful interactions between teachers and students.

Broad curriculum opportunities effectively foster a sense of community and belonging which supports students’ wellbeing. There is a high level of student participation in a wide range of co-curricular activities, catering for a variety of interests. The school provides many opportunities for student leadership at all levels of the school, with a particular focus on service. Buddy and mentoring systems help to create strong relationships amongst students across year groups. The school offers opportunities for students to belong to Māori, Pacific and international tutor groups which provide highly supportive environments that nurture the language, culture and identity of students. The school’s Refugee Centre provides students with high levels of academic and social support. The Year 9 programme, ‘Boys to Men’, effectively supports a number of targeted students in their transition to secondary school.

Responsive systems and programmes effectively support student learning and achievement. Useful processes are in place to identify, support and monitor at-risk learners. The school caters for the different learning needs of students through differentiated courses. A wide variety of programmes and opportunities are provided to extend, and challenge gifted and talented students. The school’s Career Centre provides a careers programme for all students from Year 9, and a number of initiatives and community partnerships enable senior students to successfully transition to tertiary study or employment. Several well-resourced initiatives have been implemented to support students with English as a second language.

Leadership effectively develops and pursues the school’s strategic direction, prioritising excellent and equitable outcomes for students. Leaders strongly promote and uphold the school’s vision and philosophy. There are consistently high expectations of students. Leadership is strategic with a well-considered and careful approach to continuous improvement. A range of data is used to inform decision-making and target-setting. Useful strategies have been developed to support the achievement of school-wide goals for Māori and Pacific students.

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

Leaders are collecting an increasing range of student achievement data, including entrance testing achievement information. Consideration should be given to how leaders and teachers use this data to:

  • review the provision of support for students with additional needs in response to the increasing numbers of priority learners entering the school at Year 9
  • identify, monitor and report on the rates of progress of at-risk learners at regular intervals, including students in Years 9 and 10.

Leadership has identified the need to continue to develop culturally responsive practices across the school. ERO recommends that this includes:

  • continuing to strengthen teachers’ knowledge and integration of te reo and tikanga Māori
  • further development of relevant contexts for learning that are reflective of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

Leadership is also prioritising the continued development of high quality teaching practices and the use of achievement information. ERO recommends that this is linked to increasing students’ understanding of the purpose of their learning and knowledge of their next steps.

3 Other Matters

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel accommodates 168 students. Boarders are housed according to year levels in dormitories, units, and single and double rooms. There are 141 students accommodated in Argyle House. A further 27 students are accommodated in Grove House, which provides a greater level of privacy and independence for selected Year 13 students.

Communal spaces provide a range of recreational activities. A number of organised events throughout the year provide further opportunities for social interactions between students.

There is a comprehensive induction programme for new boarders and mentoring and tutoring support is provided for those students who require it.

The school has attested that all requirements of the Education (Hostels) Regulations 2005 have been met.

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 72 long-stay international students attending the school and 15 short-stay.

The school has effective systems and processes in place to support the pastoral care of international students. Students are well supported and integrated into the life of the school.  They have many opportunities to develop positive relationships with others, participate in a range of sporting and cultural activities and experience schooling in a New Zealand context.

The school monitors its provision and outcomes for students through ongoing internal evaluation.  A well-considered approach to supporting English language learning caters for individual student needs and enables success.

4 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 Children’s Act 2014.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Hamilton Boys’ High School’sperformance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Strong.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

6 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • collective understanding and enactment of the school’s values that promotes a sense of unity and belonging
  • coherent curriculum pathways that are responsive to students’ learning needs and aspirations
  • rich curriculum opportunities that support the engagement and wellbeing of students
  • highly capable, strategic leadership that is focused on continuous improvement.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening schoolwide culturally responsive practice to reflect New Zealand’s bicultural heritage
  • building teacher practice to increase students’ understanding of their learning, progress and next steps.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

18 September 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori 23%
NZ European/Pākehā 48%
Pacific 6%
Indian 5%
Chinese 3%
Other Asian 4%
Other ethnic groups 11%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2019

Date of this report

18 September 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review November 2009
Education Review November 2006