Hamilton North School - 17/12/2019

School Context

Hamilton North School, located in Hamilton, provides special needs education for students aged five to twenty-one. The roll of 150 students includes 71 Māori. Students come from Hamilton and the surrounding region. Hamilton North School is the base school and has seven classes. There are satellite classes at Te Ao Marama, Crawshaw and Te Totara Primary Schools, and at Hamilton Junior and High Schools. All the students have high or very high needs and almost all receive ongoing resourcing funding (ORS) to provide additional learning support.

The school’s stated mission is to enable all students to develop their potential, and to foster skills and provide opportunities which allow them to successfully integrate into society. The school’s motto is Bridge to the community.

The school’s strategic goals for 2019 include:

  1. having a curriculum plan, delivered through individual education plans (IEPs), with clear guidelines on the important learning outcomes to be achieved by each student

  2. providing challenging educational programmes to ensure that the learning needs of students are being met

  3. consulting with the school’s Māori community to share information and set targets to improve the achievement of Māori students

  4. continuing to develop mainstream opportunities in the host school settings.

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

  • mathematics.

Since the previous ERO review in 2016, several building projects have been completed including the establishment of a satellite site at Rototuna Senior High School and the relocation of another satellite to Te Ao Marama School, which opened at the start of 2019. The long-standing leadership team remains unchanged and includes the principal and two deputy principals. There has been significant roll growth and some new teachers have been appointed. The board includes a mix of new and experienced trustees.

The school is a member of the Te Pae Here Kāhui Ako Te Raki Rāwhiti o Kirikiriroa.

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 highly responsive to Māori and other students’ learning and care needs. Teachers gather a wide range of achievement information linked to students’ individual learning and development goals.

A learning progression framework for numeracy is used to support teachers to identify students’ progress and achievement.

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

Teachers track students’ individual achievement goals and monitor progress over time. This information is shared with parents and used to inform next steps in learning and development.

The school has gathered achievement information in mathematics from 2017 to 2019. This shows that approximately 40% of students, including Māori, made progress in key aspects of numeracy.

The school has also trialled pilot programmes for targeted groups in fundamental and fine motor skills. Leaders reported that these programmes were successful in supporting the majority of students, and particularly senior students, to achieve identified benchmarks.

Leaders are yet to collate, analyse, and report schoolwide information to the board about other valued outcomes for students.

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 broad curriculum is highly inclusive. There is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of students, with a focus on the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. A wide range of resources and learning opportunities provide increasing levels of challenge to support student development. The curriculum reflects the school’s philosophy and prepares students to transition into adult life and the community. There are a number of opportunities for students to participate in events and activities at host schools.

The teaching staff is knowledgeable and highly responsive to students’ needs. Leaders, teachers and teacher aides work collaboratively and regularly with an extensive team of external specialists. IEPs are used to identify and plan for a diverse range of short and long-term goals, and to track each student’s longitudinal progress and development. Teachers draw on a variety of effective methods to assist communication and support student learning. There are well-established routines and staff have caring and respectful interactions with students.

Leaders and teachers foster productive partnerships for learning. Parents are included in decisions about their children’s learning goals and participate in bi-annual IEP reviews. They receive regular communication about classroom activities and the progress of their children. Parents told ERO that the school is a whānau environment where they feel welcome. They have opportunities to attend relevant seminars to support their children’s learning and development at home, and participation in the community.

Leaders effectively support the enactment of the school’s vision and philosophy. Senior leaders are highly collaborative and are involved in all aspects of pastoral and curriculum support. They work across the satellite sites to ensure that school culture is sustained. Leaders are actively building middle leadership capability and support ongoing staff professional growth through the provision of a wide range of professional learning opportunities. They are working with an external provider to implement a teaching-as-inquiry process to further support teachers to understand the impact of their practice on outcomes for students.

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

Teachers collect and maintain detailed records of progress and achievement for each student. It would be useful to collate this data to analyse trends and patterns in relation to the goals set and other valued outcomes, and report these to the board. This should support internal evaluation of the impact of interventions and resourcing on student outcomes, and enable evidence-based decision-making by trustees and leaders.

Consideration should also be given to refining and implementing frameworks for literacy to support the identification of individual student learning pathways and assessment processes.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Hamilton North School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • an adaptive curriculum that supports holistic development
  • responsive teaching practices that skilfully provide for a wide range of diverse needs
  • collaborative relationships that promote student wellbeing and development
  • a shared understanding of and commitment to the school’s philosophy that provides positive outcomes for students.

Next steps

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

  • collation and analysis of schoolwide achievement information to support internal evaluation processes.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • review health and safety policies and procedures to ensure that these refer to relevant legislation and reflect best practice.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

17 December 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Male 67% Female 33%

Ethnic composition

Māori 47%
NZ European/Pākehā 38%
Pacific 3%
Chinese 3%
Indian 3%
Other Asian 3%
Other ethnicities 3%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

October 2019

Date of this report

17 December 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2016
Education Review April 2012
Education Review January 2009