Hillcrest Normal School - 07/10/2014


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.


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



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā









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