Mount Hutt College - 28/08/2012

1 Context

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

The school plays a central role in its local community and has a strong focus on promoting citizenship and lifelong learning. The school curriculum reflects the rural setting and the values of the local community. It provides a wide range of opportunities for students to engage in a variety of outdoor pursuits and sports. These factors contribute to the positive and friendly culture at the school.

A new leadership team has been established since the November 2007 ERO review. School leaders and teachers have maintained a strong focus on integrating school values and beliefs into all school operations.

The relatively smaller school roll enables staff to know students well and recognise and respond to changing needs and circumstances. This has resulted in strong programmes of support for learners with specific needs, especially in junior classes.

Continuing redevelopment of school buildings and facilities is providing students and the community with an increasingly high-quality learning environment. The extensive grounds and range of nearby recreational facilities extend the opportunities available to students.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are well engaged in their learning and in the wider life of the college. Students spoken with by ERO said that the range of opportunities at the school is a significant strength.

ERO observed high levels of on task learning behaviour in the classrooms visited. Settled classes contribute to positive relationships and interactions that promote purposeful learning and achievement. Teachers place a strong emphasis on school values and qualities that build motivation and maintain engagement.

Senior leaders report that Year 11 students achieve very good results in Level 1 of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement. Year 11 literacy and numeracy results exceed those of similar schools. Year 12 and 13 students’ achievement is comparable to that of students in similar schools.

Year 7 and 8 students achieve good results against National Standards in reading and mathematics and are making good progress in these areas. Teachers have identified that assessment results for writing are below expected levels, especially for boys.

School targets are set to improve the achievement of students who are not performing as well as expected and to extend the number of students achieving above expectations, including increasing the number of merit and excellence endorsements in National Certificate of Achievement (NCEA).

Most students receive useful teacher feedback to provide them with an understanding of their learning progress and are aware of their next steps for learning.

Students benefit from good quality teaching in most classes. During the review, ERO also observed many examples of very good quality teaching. These included:

  • making the purpose of learning clear
  • good use of achievement information to plan for the different needs of students
  • opportunities for students to work together
  • the effective use of questioning.

Teachers and leaders are increasingly making good use of analysed student achievement information. They are using this data to identify priority groups of students, and to plan programmes of learning that address their identified learning needs. Faculty heads use this information to evaluate progress against faculty and school goals, and to report to the board.

Teachers meet regularly to share good practice and extend their knowledge and understanding of effective teaching and learning.

A next step for teachers is to seek the students’ views about the quality of their class programmes and other school activity.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. The curriculum includes programmes that use the unique local environment for courses based on agriculture and outdoor pursuits.

The curriculum provides clear expectations and guidelines for learning areas. Heads of Faculties have responsibility for curriculum design and review in their subject areas. Faculty planning is developed from the requirements of the New Zealand Curriculum and school-wide goals and targets, and reflects subject specific priorities.

Teachers have developed a range of relevant learning pathways for students. In the senior school students are supported through a range of pathways towards further education, training or employment. In the junior school teachers analyse and use achievement information to identify individual and group learning needs, and to provide relevant learning programmes.

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

Senior leaders ensure that the board receives regular information about the progress and achievement of Māori students. School leaders told ERO that small numbers make it difficult to get accurate information about the achievement of Māori students. However, the school is aware that it needs to do more to support some Māori students to achieve better results in national qualifications.

Teachers take part in professional development in te reo and tikanga Māori through a teacher professional learning group. They use reflective journals to monitor the impact of strategies to increase the engagement and achievement of Māori students in their classes. They share their learning with the wider staff.

Māori students told ERO that they felt safe and enjoyed a wide range of opportunities at the college. They also said that they would like to see a greater visibility of the Māori culture in school programmes and activities and were keen to work with staff to achieve this.

Area for review and development

The college has yet to develop a clear vision for Māori success. Trustees, leaders and teachers, in consultation with their community, must now develop a vision, targets and plans to enhance Māori student engagement and success. Teachers and trustees have indicated their readiness to further develop cultural responsiveness at the college to more fully support Māori students to succeed as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is generally well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Trustees have a good understanding of governance and a good range of skills and have established clear expectations and guidelines for board responsibilities and procedures. Their major focus is on raising student achievement. They are developing processes to gain more information about progress towards their long-term goals to inform discussion and decision-making. They have set priorities and directions for the college.

The principal is working well with the board to develop a shared understanding of school priorities.

Areas for review and development

The leadership team has changed significantly in the last two years. With the appointment of new deputy principal it is now time for the leadership team to develop a clear vision and specific goals to lead ongoing school improvement.

While there are some good elements of curriculum self review in place using student achievement and progress information, a next step is to develop a strategic planned approach to wider review of all school operations.

Provision for international students

The college provides an effective English language programme for international students. Students' achievement, progress and pastoral needs are regularly monitored through meetings with and between all staff involved with the international students and their programmes. Any appropriate support and guidance needs are identified and appropriate support is provided. There are opportunities for international students to learn in mainstream classes, where they achieve and progress well. Overall, international students are well integrated into the life of the college.

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. At the time of this review there were three international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, Mount Hutt College Lodge, accommodates 16 students from Years 12 and 13, (3% of the school roll) all of whom are participants in the college’s Outdoor Pursuits course. The hostel is governed by the Mount Hutt College board of trustees. The principal has oversight of the hostel. He is supported by a lodge manager and an assistant manager, both of whom are instructors in the outdoor pursuits course.

Students live in a supported flatting environment which supports the development of independent living skills. They receive supervised mentoring for their learning and study, and take part in regular personal development sessions as part of the course. There is close liaison between the lodge students and the college teaching and pastoral staff and systems.

The board of trustees has started a full review of the Outdoor Pursuits course and the Lodge policies and procedures.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

The board has not consulted Māori about their aspirations for their children, or se targets for Māori student achievement.

The board must now consult with the school's Māori community, develop and make known to the school's community policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students [National Administration Guidelines 1 (e)]

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

About the School


Methven, Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)



School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys      50%
Girls       50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Special Features

School Hostel - Mount Hutt College Lodge

Review team on site

June 2012

Date of this report

28 August 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Discretionary Review

November 2007
June 2004
December 2000