Highfield School - 20/08/2013

1 Context

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

The school is an inclusive place for students to learn. Students with special needs are welcomed, valued and included in all aspects of school life. There is a strong focus on establishing positive relationships among staff, students and their families. The school has good links with its community. It is well supported by, and is actively involved with local resources and personnel.

Since the May 2010 ERO review, the school has made considerable progress in addressing the identified next steps. These included:

  • strengthening the leadership
  • improving self review, assessment practices and the school’s curriculum.

The school environment is attractive and maintained to a high standard. The recently upgraded new entrant classrooms create an environment that helps students settle easily into school.

2 Learning

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

Highfield School makes very good use of achievement information to make positive changes to students’ engagement, progress and achievement.

School achievement information shows that most students are achieving at or above National Standards in reading and mathematics, but are making less progress in writing.

Students who are not achieving at expected levels are identified and provided with appropriate programmes and support. Those with identified needs are closely monitored at class and management levels. Teachers regularly discuss the progress these students are making and adjust their teaching approaches to further support these students. The principal and teachers maintain close partnerships with external agencies to ensure students receive the support they need to make progress.

The board receives regular student progress and achievement reports. Trustees make good use of this information to monitor student progress and make decisions about future resourcing.

The principal, teachers and board have high expectations that all students will succeed and enjoy learning. The principal has a strong focus on high-quality teaching and what teachers need to do to ensure that their practices benefit all students. This includes students’ wellbeing, sense of belonging, confidence and pride in their achievements. Teachers make good use of students’ interests to provide stimulating programmes that extend their learning and achievement.

Areas for review and development

The 2012 Year 4 to 8 reports to parents did not comply with Ministry of Education requirements to report in writing twice yearly in relation to the National Standards. During the on-site stage of the review, the principal and senior managers began modifying the report template for 2013 to meet the legislative requirements.

The principal agrees that the board’s student achievement targets need to more clearly identify specific groups of students who are at risk of not achieving the National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning.

The curriculum provides a clear vision for learning and teaching and is focused on students’ needs, abilities and the ways teachers promote students’ learning. It gives appropriate emphasis to literacy and mathematics and promotes students as creative thinkers and problem solvers. The involvement of local community groups and individuals helps to make the school’s curriculum more innovative, practical and significant for students.

Senior students are provided with many meaningful opportunities to take leadership roles within the school. The principal and teachers encourage students to be actively involved in decision making across the school. Students proudly told ERO about the initiatives they have participated in and the differences these are making to their school and wider community.

Professional development is well used to improve teaching practice across the school. Teachers regularly reflect, discuss and evaluate their practices to make improvements that result in better learning outcomes for students.

Area for review and development

The principal, senior managers and the board have identified, and ERO agrees, that the school values need to be reviewed and simplified.

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

The school has taken some positive steps to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Māori student achievement is similar to that of other students in reading and mathematics but is not at expected levels in writing. There are good systems in place to support and monitor the progress of these students.

A strong emphasis is placed on relationships that support Māori students and their whānau. Teachers model and encourage the concept of tuakana/teina. Ako (everyone learning together) is promoted well at all levels of the school.

The school’s kapa haka is a valued part of the school and the teacher responsible is well supported by a Māori parent.

Area for review and development

The principal and teachers need to consider ways that the Māori culture and language could be integrated more consistently in the school’s curriculum.

The principal and board should set specific plans and targets for raising Māori achievement.

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.

The board gives priority to improving the quality of teaching and learning and the achievement of all students. It has good systems for governing the school and supporting new trustees in their role.

The board’s strategic plan has a strong emphasis on student learning and wellbeing. It is closely aligned to the principal’s appraisal goals and reporting.

The principal provides effective leadership. He has a clear vision for learning and teaching that is well understood and promoted by the staff and board.

The principal and senior managers work together to support teachers and student learning. The principal recognises strengths within his teaching teams and encourages further development of these strengths to benefit the learning needs of all students.

Area for review and development

The principal and senior leaders should strengthen self review by showing more clearly in review summaries and action plans what is contributing to student progress and achievement.

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.

During the review, ERO identified that the principal does not keep complete records of student stand downs and suspensions.

The principal and board, as appropriate, must ensure that the decision to stand down or suspend a student is made in accordance with all the legal requirements. [Sections 13 to 18 Education Act 1989]

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

20 August 2013

About the School


Timaru, South Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 56%

Girls 44%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā



Other ethnicities





Special Features

Attached class for intellectual/physical impaired

Review team on site

July 2013

Date of this report

20 August 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

May 2010

June 2007

June 2006