Hamilton North School - 14/12/2016


Hamilton North School continues to successfully provide specialist services to students with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities. Its students enjoy active and successful engagement in a holistic curriculum that meets their individual needs. Leaders and staff work collaboratively with a wide range of external agencies, specialists and community organisations.

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

1 Context

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

Hamilton North School is a specialist service provider and caters for students between the ages of 5 and 21 with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities. The base school is on a site adjoining Hamilton Junior High School, and there are satellite units at Waipa, Te Totara, Crawshaw and Rototuna Junior High Schools. The roll has increased since the 2011 ERO review and is now 126. A very high proportion of students are transported to the school in a fleet of minibuses from a wide area of central and northern Waikato.

The principal and senior management team continue to provide experienced leadership that ensures a shared, positive sense of purpose and direction for the school and its community. Staff turnover is low and this promotes continuity of care and support for students and their families. A new chairperson was appointed after the 2013 trustee elections.

The vision statement for the school is to be ‘A Bridge to the Community’. The mission states the aim to enable all students to develop their potential with regards to their ability, to foster skills and provide opportunities, which allow them to successfully integrate into our multicultural society.

Hamilton North has a very positive reporting history with ERO and is committed to sustaining high quality service provision as it expands its roll and the number of additional satellite units.

2 Learning

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

The school makes highly effective use of a broad range of academic, medical, emotional and social information to develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for every student. These IEPs normally involve input from families/whānau, therapy teams, teachers and support staff, and senior managers. Additional outside agencies may contribute knowledge or expertise as appropriate. 

The IEP guides teacher and support staff planning and strategies to ensure the positive potential of each student is identified, shared and realised. Achievable and challenging goals are agreed for each student, with observable criteria to guide the assessment of their progress. Teachers establish comprehensive progress records and these are used to review each IEP at least twice a year. Each student also has a Curriculum Achievement Folder for Evaluation (CAFÉ) folder which presents an illustrated evaluative record of their engagement and enjoyment in the curriculum. CAFÉ folders make specific reference to areas of The New Zealand Curriculum and key competencies, and include realistic future directions for learning.

A feature of these planning, assessment and evaluation processes is the ongoing communication to build partnerships of trust and mutual respect with families/whānau. Teachers keep a daily notebook for anecdotal comments and observations to share with parents/whānau. Staff often use telephone calls and text messages to keep parent/whānau informed and assured of the high quality care and support being provided for their child. School managers and teachers are readily accessible to parents/whānau and they arrange formal meetings and written reports to complement the extensive individual progress records kept.

While IEPs are central to planning and programme delivery, senior leaders establish school-wide achievement targets. 2015 and 2016 targets have centred on developing the Foundations Skills of Literacy and aim to improve students’ ability to engage successfully in learning by identifying and promoting growth around their deficiencies in perceptual motor development. School achievement against targets are reported to trustees and shared with the community.

Aggregated evidence from individual IEPs, teacher and family feedback, and regular reports from support agencies indicate that the curriculum is being highly successful in developing each student’s abilities and talents to their potential.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s planned and emergent curriculum is highly responsive to the holistic learning and care needs of each individual student, and their family/whānau. IEPs are developed to reflect the intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional and cultural contexts of each student. Additional consideration is given to planning for their physical health and well-being needs, life skill challenges and citizenship responsibilities. The importance of developing literacy and oral language skills for communication, mathematics and other core areas of The New Zealand Curriculum is planned for, at an appropriate level for each individual or in small groups. Effective teaching practice ensures that students are actively and successfully engaged in the curriculum.

The successful delivery of the holistic curriculum is only possible through a highly collaborative approach from a wide range of school and community based providers that reflects the philosophy of ‘Bridge to the Community’. Students enjoy learning and social experiences that include:

  • Education Outside the Classroom through a series of camps targeted to cater for different groups
  • individual fitness training and competitive sport, swimming, Project Energize and participation in Special Olympics
  • riding for the Disabled
  • excursions into the community such as entertaining interactions with residents at a retirement village, visiting the supermarket and other real life experiences
  • ongoing interactions with students at the mainstream schools where satellite classes are located.

Senior leaders establish, model and sustain the inclusive, respectful and caring culture in the school community. They build high levels of relational trust and effective collaboration at every level of the school family. Effective formal and informal communication supports and strengthens reciprocal, learning-centred partnerships that include appropriate external agencies. School staff work with patience, humour and respect as they work with a proportion of students who present with complex and challenging behaviours.

A strategic and planned approach to human resource management continues to build professional capability and collective capacity in the staff. Internal processes include well-considered induction of new staff, the sharing of relevant information about students and effective strategies and a focus on developing students’ foundations skills. Relevant external professional development has included teachers reflecting on their practice, supporting students with dyslexia, brain development and cultural responsiveness. These high quality development programmes are complimented by a robust performance management system that provides feedback and constructive feedforward for staff.

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

Māori students are benefitting from the holistic learning and cultural opportunities provided by the school. The valuing of language, culture and identity is evident in both teaching and programme planning. The aspirations of whānau are consistently sought during the development of, and reporting on, IEPs. Care is taken with student’s names and basic tikanga Māori practices are respected during routines of sharing food, meeting and greeting.

Appropriate levels of te reo Māori are taught and included in daily communication. Students have the opportunity to participate in kapa haka.

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. Supporting factors are:

  • trustees who are focussed on working effectively with senior management and staff to achieve the school vision of being a bridge to the community
  • senior leadership team continue to provide effective and well-informed leadership for the provision of specialist services
  • staff at all levels who focus on caring for and supporting each individual student
  • a wide range of specialist agencies and community organisations that continue to ensure the holistic curriculum can be planned and delivered
  • internal evaluation is leading to improvements in aspects of school operations and curriculum.

School leaders and the board should continue their development of:

  • the effective use of digital technologies to support teaching and learning, and aspects of administration and record keeping
  • leadership at various levels of the school.

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.

In order to improve practice the board should:

  • work collaboratively with the board of Waipa School and the Ministry of Education to address the urgent maintenance requirements of the satellite unit situated there
  • ensure policies reflect current legislative requirements.


Hamilton North School continues to successfully provide specialist services to students with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities. Its students enjoy active and successful engagement in a holistic curriculum that meets their individual needs. Leaders and staff work collaboratively with a wide range of external agencies, specialists and community organisations.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

14 December 2016

About the School 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 65% Girls 35%

Ethnic composition



Other Asian



Other European









Special Features

Therapists and Specialist Teachers

Regional base for Blennz and Kelston School for the Deaf

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

14 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2012

January 2009

March 2006