Hillcrest Normal School - 28/11/2018

School Context

Hillcrest Normal School is located in Hamilton and provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. The school’s current roll of 604 students includes 11% Māori, 29% Asian and a large number of students from a range of other diverse cultural backgrounds. Approximately 15% of the school’s roll comprises of students who are English language learners.

The school has a close professional partnership with the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, providing support and mentoring for teacher trainees.

The school’s vision of ‘growing creative learners from within’ aims to provide a holistic learning environment that encompasses the whole child, recognises individual strengths and interests, and fosters a lifelong love of learning. The school’s values of succeed, honour, imagine, nurture and explore, create opportunities for children to ‘shine’.

The school’s strategic goals focus on engaging students to be successful through a rich curriculum and embracing creativity and innovation. Goals are also prioritised for strengthening teacher capability and developing strong community partnerships.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics
  • science and social sciences.

Since the previous review in 2015, there have been some changes to staffing and stewardship. A new principal was appointed in term 4 of 2015 and almost all trustees were new to their roles in 2016. The school has carried out review and development of its vision, values and charter. Leaders and teachers have undertaken professional learning and development in literacy, appreciative inquiry and dramatic inquiry.

The school is a member of the Hillcrest Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL) and Waimac (Waikato Māori Achievement Cluster).

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 equity for all.

The school’s data from 2015 to 2017 shows most Māori and other students are achieving at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. High levels of achievement have remained consistent over the past three years. Disparity in achievement for Māori students with their Pākehā peers has decreased over time in writing. However, significant disparity still remains in reading and mathematics. There has been improvement in the achievement of Asian students in literacy and boys in writing and mathematics. Boys and girls are achieving at comparable levels in reading. Girls are achieving at higher levels than boys in writing. Almost all boys are achieving at or above expected levels in mathematics and are significantly outperforming girls.

The school’s data for 2018 also shows high levels of achievement in science and social sciences.

School’s overtime data indicates that by the time students reach the end of Year 6, almost all are achieving at expected levels in all areas.

Students with additional needs are well supported and make appropriate progress in relation to their individual goals.

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

The school is accelerating learning for some Māori and other students who need it.

The school’s analysed data from February 2017 to September 2018 shows accelerated progress for some Māori students in reading and other students in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students who were identified as at risk in 2018 have made accelerated progress in their learning with approximately half accelerating in reading and the majority in writing. This analysis was completed by leaders during the review.

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 leadership team provides effective leadership for learning and teaching. Leaders build teacher and leadership capability through intentional professional learning, coaching and mentoring. There are strong systems in place for the identification and monitoring of students’ progress and achievement. Leaders have high expectations and an ongoing commitment to extending learning for students to achieve excellent outcomes.

The board provides a well-resourced educational environment. Views and aspirations gathered through consultation with the school community inform strategic planning and direction. Positive relationships between leaders, teachers, trustees and parents contribute to collaborative and cohesive partnerships for learning. A well-managed and supportive learning environment enables equitable opportunities for students to learn and experience success.

Teachers use deliberate strategies to enhance learning. A range of appropriate assessment information is used to inform programme planning. Students at-risk are clearly identified and targeted intervention supports acceleration in learning. Students with additional learning needs including English Language Learners are well integrated and supported to achieve and make progress. Ongoing liaison with outside agencies supports students’ learning and behavioural needs. Regular opportunities for parents to be involved and informed of their children’s progress, enables positive partnerships for learning. Warm and respectful relationships between teachers and students contribute to calm and settled learning environments.

The school’s curriculum provides a wide range of experiences and authentic contexts for learning. Students have many opportunities to experience rich cultural, sporting and outdoor education activities. A strong focus is placed on creativity and the arts which supports students’ interests, strengths and caters for different learning styles. Cultural diversity for Māori and other groups of students is acknowledged and integrated into the life of the school through festivals and celebrations. The school’s holistic approach to learning enables excellent outcomes with high levels of student engagement and wellbeing.

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

Leaders and teachers should now:

  • further develop use of student achievement data to report on rates of progress and acceleration for at-risk students, and review the effectiveness of the teaching and learning initiatives for these students
  • continue to strengthen students’ understanding of their own learning , especially for those at risk.

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 Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

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 seven international students attending the school.

The school has a well-considered approach for the provision of pastoral care, quality of education and student involvement throughout the school and into the community. Students are well monitored and supported.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership for learning that promotes excellent outcomes for students
  • a rich and inclusive curriculum that enables high levels of student engagement
  • teaching practice that responds to individual students’ needs and supports their learning success.

Next steps

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

  • accelerating the progress of at-risk students to address in-school disparity for Māori, particularly in reading and mathematics
  • embedding a consistent approach to strategies which promote learner agency.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

28 November 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 49% Boys 51%

Ethnic composition

Māori 11%
Pākehā 49%
Chinese 14%
Indian 8%
Sri Lankan 3%
Other 15%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

28 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2014
Education Review February 2010