St John's College (Hillcrest) - 28/10/2016


The special Catholic character of St John’s College is highly evident in all aspects of the college’s operations. Student achievement data from the previous three years shows that students continue to achieve very well in NCEA qualifications. Leaders and trustees have a focus on increasing the number of students achieving NCEA certificate endorsement at Merit and Excellence awards.

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

1 Context

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

St John’s College (Hillcrest) is a state integrated Year 9 to 13 secondary school for boys located in Hamilton city. The school’s Catholic character, based on the Marist charism, is integrated through all aspects of the life of the college. The associated, clearly articulated values contribute to a shared sense of purpose and direction for students, families and the wider school community.

The school’s roll of 780 includes 141 Māori students, 49 from Pacific heritage and a number from other cultures.

Since the previous ERO review the roll has increased slightly. The principal has implemented a strategic approach to employing new teaching staff, including Māori to strengthen teaching and learning for students. Two new deputy principals have been appointed and some new trustees were elected at the recent board elections. Teachers have participated in the Ministry of Education (MOE) initiative ‘Positive Behaviour for Learning’ (PB4L) which has contributed to consistent school-wide expectations for students and teachers.

The school is at the early stages of participating in a Community of Learning with other Catholic schools in the wider Hamilton area. This initiative should further support transition processes for students from Year 8 into the college.

2 Learning

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

School leaders have an appropriate and ongoing focus on strengthening the use of student achievement information to inform teaching and learning. Nationally referenced assessment tools are used for Years 9 and 10 to identify learners’ strengths and next steps. The Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) continues to share and discuss individual learner results with teachers. Teachers need to use this information more effectively to plan responsive learning programmes. This is likely to support students to have greater understanding of their achievement and increase learner agency.

There are sound systems to track and monitor students’ progress in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This is further enhanced by recently strengthened student goal-setting processes.

The school’s 2015 and 2016 achievement information indicates that a significant number of Year 9 students enter the school at lower than nationally expected levels in reading, writing and numeracy. This information also shows that between 2014 and 2015 most Years 9 and 10 students, including Māori and Pasifika, made expected progress in these areas. Trustees and school leaders have identified school targets to accelerate the achievement of Years 9 and 10 students, particularly those at risk of underachievement.

Students continue to achieve very well in NCEA qualifications. Achievement information over the previous three years shows that approximately 90% of students achieved NCEA Level 2 or higher. These results exceed the MOE’s 2017 target of 85% of school leavers achieving NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualifications. Māori students achieve at similar levels to their non-Māori peers at the school. The number of Pasifika students achieving NCEA Level 3 has improved over the past four years and in 2015 was similar to other groups in the school.

School leaders have an appropriate ongoing focus on increasing the number of students achieving NCEA merit and excellence endorsements. They recognise the importance of strengthening teaching practice, particularly at Years 9 and 10 to achieve this goal.

3 Curriculum

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

The areas of good performance identified in the 2013 ERO report about the school’s special character, learning support programmes, and comprehensive pastoral care systems continue to be highly evident.

The school is increasingly developing a curriculum that is future focused, and supports and promotes positive learning outcomes. Students have increased choices and vocational pathways. A high proportion of students progress to tertiary education. School leaders identify the potential of furthering vocational pathway awards.

There are many models of effective teaching practices that promote students’ engagement in their learning. These include:

  • strategies that inform students of what they are learning, why they are learning this and what successful learning looks like
  • the use of authentic contexts that respond to individual students’ strengths and interests
  • trialling innovative student-led approaches including the use of digital technologies
  • developing strong partnerships for learning with students, including teachers seeking and responding to student feedback about the effectiveness of teaching strategies.

School leaders have introduced a strategic approach to building teacher capability. This approach includes professional learning groups where teachers select areas of interest to inquire into the effectiveness of teaching practices. External expertise, and this structured approach is building teacher capability, particularly in teacher use of digital technologies for learning.

The school-wide approach to implementing PB4L contributes to a calm and settled environment for learning. This approach should be applied to documenting shared and agreed understandings for implementing the intent of the The New Zealand Curriculum, particularly for Years 9 and 10.

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

A collaborative group of Māori teachers and whānau have developed a comprehensive research-based strategic plan to guide the school in promoting further educational success for Māori, as Māori. This plan has recently been presented to the board in readiness for further consultation with the wider community. The implementation of this plan is likely to assist the school to meet its documented commitment to implementing Māori perspectives in the school’s curriculum.

Many initiatives in the school promote Māori success and achievement. Māori students are well represented in leadership roles, including within a whānau class that meets daily. Eight Māori teachers have formed a Māori Achievement Group to make effective use of evidence to inform decision making for improving outcomes for Māori students. There has been an increased focus on incorporating aspects of Tainuitanga within the curriculum. Students have opportunities to learn te reo Māori at all year levels.

Trustees are committed to continuing to have Māori representation on the board by filling the current vacancy.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Trustees have a wide range of governance experience and provide clear stewardship for the school’s special character and strategic direction.

Leaders work collaboratively and strategically to create an environment that supports teaching and learning. They have established useful processes for teacher professional learning and sharing effective practice across the school. Leaders are increasingly using evidence-based practices to inform ongoing developments.

Parents appreciate strong and meaningful relationships with leaders and teachers. They are able to be well informed through a useful range of strategies including digital technologies. Parents’ views and aspirations are regularly sought through surveys and questionnaires, which are used to support ongoing decision making. School leaders and teachers continue to build strong student-centred learning partnerships with families and whānau, particularly for Years 9 and 10.

In order to accelerate the achievement of students in Years 9 and 10 and to continue to increase the numbers of students achieving NCEA merit and excellence endorsements, trustees and leaders need to further develop the strategic alignment of:

  • charter and faculty targets focused on accelerating progress
  • systems and processes to promote the consistency of teaching practices, through teacher professional development, robust appraisal and teaching as inquiry to increase learner agency.

Provision for international students

The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) was introduced on July 1st 2016. The school is aware of the need to update its policies and procedures to meet the new code requirements by December 1st 2016.

At the time of this ERO review there were 24 international students attending the school, including 0 exchange students.

The school is making good progress in aligning its policies and procedures to meet requirements for the 2016 Code.

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.


The special Catholic character of St John’s College is highly evident in all aspects of the college’s operations. Student achievement data from the previous three years shows that students continue to achieve very well in NCEA qualifications. Leaders and trustees have a focus on increasing the number of students achieving NCEA certificate endorsement at Merit and Excellence awards.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

28 October 2016

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 100%

Ethnic composition



South East Asian

Other European




Other Pacific













Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

28 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2013

November 2010

January 2008