Hillcrest High School

Hillcrest High School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within 20 months of the Education Review Office and Hillcrest High School working in Te Ara Huarau, an improvement evaluation approach used in most English Medium State and State Integrated Schools. For more information about Te Ara Huarau see ERO’s website. www.ero.govt.nz


Hillcrest High School is a large urban co-educational school catering for Year 9-13 students located in Hamilton. Aligned to its vision, prioritising equity and excellence, the school values diversity and inclusive approach.

Hillcrest High School’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are:

  • meeting the needs of all learners

  • enhancing effective teacher practices

  • caring for the wellbeing of all staff and students

  • building culturally meaningful relationships with students, staff and whānau.

You can find a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan on Hillcrest High School’s website.

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate how effectively Hillcrest High School provides equitable and excellent outcomes and pathways at Years 9 and 10, to increase in-school parity of achievement at all levels of NCEA.

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is:

  • there is a known disparity between groups of students

  • a stronger emphasis on the achievement of Year 9 and 10 students, to enable more equitable outcomes and opportunities for students to have genuine choice in their future pathways.

The school expects to see:

  • increased student engagement

  • more equitable choices and opportunities for students as they progress through the school

  • parity between groups of students

  • improved literacy and numeracy outcomes for Year 9 and 10 students

  • a school culture that supports students’ language, culture and identity

  • culturally responsive pedagogy embedded throughout the school.


The school can draw from the following strengths to support its goal to improve equity and excellent outcomes in NCEA achievement through strengthening teaching and learning in Years 9 and 10:

  • strong leadership across the school focusing on continuous school improvement and improved outcomes for all students

  • a coherent, aligned and student-centred charter and strategic plan that prioritises improved student outcomes

  • robust and comprehensive internal evaluation processes that clearly identify students’ learning needs

  • a strong relationship with Ngāti Hauā that supports and helps informs the direction of the school.

Where to next?

Moving forward, the school will prioritise:

  • teacher understanding and enactment of Mana Ōrite mo te Maatauranga Maaori

  • developing literacy and numeracy teaching strategies across all areas of the curriculum

  • responsive teaching practices to meet the needs of learners.

ERO’s role will be to support the school in its evaluation for improvement cycle to improve outcomes for all learners. ERO will support the school in reporting their progress to the community. The next public report on ERO’s website will be a Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report and is due within three years.

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)
Central Region | Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

25 August 2022 

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.  educationcounts.govt.nz/home

Hillcrest High School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report 2022 to 2025

As of May 2022, the Hillcrest High School Board of Trustees has attested to the following regulatory and legislative requirements:

Board Administration




Management of Health, Safety and Welfare


Personnel Management






Further Information

For further information please contact Hillcrest High School Board of Trustees.

The next Board of Trustees assurance that it is meeting regulatory and legislative requirements will be reported, along with the Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report, within three years.

Information on ERO’s role and process in this review can be found on the Education Review Office website.

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)
Central Region | Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

25 August 2022 

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement. educationcounts.govt.nz/home

Hillcrest High School

Provision for International Students Report


The Education Review Office reviews schools that are signatories to the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 established under section 534 of the Education and Training Act 2020.


At the time of this review, the school had 34 international students. The school’s self-review process for international students is thorough and contributes to further developments. Policies and practice suitably guide the provision for international students. Students can access comprehensive curriculum experiences and subject choices. Clear processes are in place to track and monitor students’ progress and achievement towards intended destination pathways.

International students receive high quality pastoral care. The promotion of their wellbeing is a strong focus. Homestay accommodation is well supported and closely monitored.

International students benefit from positive, respectful relationships. They are encouraged to participate in a range of cultural and sporting activities, and in the wider community. 

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)
Central Region | Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

25 August 2022 

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement. educationcounts.govt.nz/home

Hillcrest High School - 23/05/2018

School Context

Hillcrest High School is located in Hamilton and caters for students Years 9 to 13. At the time of this review there were 1706 students enrolled including 52% Pākehā, 16% Māori, 3% Pacific and 29% of students from a diverse range of other ethnicities. The school roll includes 80 Ministry of Education funded English Language Learners (ELL) some of whom are refugees. In addition there were 57 fee paying international students.

Since the ERO review in 2013 the experienced senior leadership team has remained stable with one new deputy principal appointed. Trustees, including the chairperson, were newly elected in the 2016 election and a Māori representative was co-opted on to the board. The board of trustees has undertaken extensive governance training.

The school’s mission is to ‘value all students, enhancing their self-esteem, academic potential, abilities and sense of responsibility by helping them to develop the knowledge, ideas and skills to become active, independent, caring New Zealanders’. The school’s valued outcomes are for learners to:

  • show respect for others – manaakitangata
  • identify and develop talents and skills - whakapakari pumanawa me ngā pūkenga
  • aim for the best you can be – eke panuku
  • persevere and don’t give up - mahia te mahi
  • value diversity and differences - whaipainga rerenga kētanga me nga rerekētanga.

The school has been involved in a range of professional learning and development (PLD) programmes focussed on improving teacher pedagogy and practice. These include positive behaviour for learning (PB4L), teaching as inquiry and effective use of digital technology.

The school has developed a working relationship with Ngāti Hauā and students experience annual noho marae at Te iti o Hauā, the local marae at Tauwhare. Last year the school joined the Waikato-Tainui Kawenata Plan to enhance outcomes for Tainui students.

The school offers a range of co-curricular activities in sports, arts and culture. These include kapa haka, a Pacific performance group, and a major school production.

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

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and numeracy in Years 9 and 10

  • students with special/additional/high learning needs

  • Māori and Pacific students

  • attendance information.

The school is part of the Hillcrest Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL) which includes nine other schools in the Hillcrest cluster. The CoL’s achievement challenge has been endorsed.

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 working towards achieving more equitable outcomes for groups of students. Addressing the disparities of achievement for Māori and boys is a priority for 2018.

Overall, the school’s 2017 National Certificate of Achievement (NCEA) roll-based data shows that most Years 11 and 12 students achieved well in Levels 1 and 2, and the majority of students at Level 3. Approximately half of Year 13 students also gained University Entrance (UE). Fifty percent of students gained NCEA with merit or excellence endorsement. Thirty seven students gained scholarship in a variety of subjects including three outstanding scholarships in music, drama and maths with statistics.

Māori achievement at NCEA Level 2 and 3 and UE has improved over time. However, there is significant and ongoing disparity between Māori and Pākehā student achievement at Levels 1 and 2. In 2017 the disparity gap closed at Level 3 and Māori and Pākehā are now achieving at a similar rate. There is disparity between the achievement of boys and girls, with girls outperforming boys. This inequity has remained over time and increases at Level 3 and UE. However, the 2017 data shows that the disparity is closing at Levels 1 and 2.

Publically available achievement information for students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or above shows a similar disparity picture for Māori and boys. The school can show that in 2017 almost all Pacific students left with Level 2 or above.

The school has collated detailed destination data for those students who left school without NCEA Level 2. It is able to show that the support these students received enabled most of them to access further training and employment.

Included in these overall NCEA roll-based figures are 15 Physical Assistance Centre (PAC) students. All Level 1 PAC students passed literacy and numeracy. Also included in this data are 27 Independent Learning Centre (ILC) students with high learning needs, and Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) students. Ten of these students completed the Level 1 certificate in supported learning. There are junior students in the PAC and ILC and in the alternative education Kauri Centre. Most junior and senior students in these facilities achieved well against their learning and developmental goals.

The 2017 roll-based results also include a significant number of English Language Learners from a range of diverse cultures and backgrounds. The school can show that most of these students achieved well in the English Foundation Programme.

The school collates, analyses and reports data for Years 9 and 10 in reading and mathematics using a standardised assessment tool. There is significant disparity between Māori and their non-Māori peers in reading and mathematics. In 2017 achievement information reported to the board for Year 10 indicated that 57% of these students were at or above expected curriculum Level 5 in mathematics and 61% in reading. Leaders have recently reported rates of acceleration in writing. The school is yet to collate, analyse and report on other curriculum areas in the junior school.

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

There is a wide range of support programmes to accelerate the learning for Māori and other students who need this and some of these are effective.

Initiatives to support and accelerate at-risk learners in Years 9 and 10 include literacy, numeracy and science. These initiatives were more successful for learners in Year 9. Recent analysis of achievement information across the junior support programmes highlighted that these were less effective for Year 10 students, especially Māori and boys.

Cohort tracking data shows that 81% of Māori students and 86% of boys who were achieving below expected curriculum levels on entry at Year 9, made accelerated progress to achieve NCEA Level 2 or above by Year 12 and 13. Similarly, a significant majority of other students made accelerated progress to achieve NCEA Level 2 or above.

The school can show that the students in the PAC, ILC and Kauri Centre facilities all have made significant sustained progress towards their learning development and achievement goals with an emphasis on the key competencies, social interaction and oral language. Most have exceeded their personal goals.

Progress and achievement data provided by the school demonstrates that a significant number of ELL who stay for a year or more, make accelerated progress in the ELL Learning Progression Framework in listening, reading, writing and speaking.

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?

Relational trust and effective collaboration across the school community contribute to an environment conducive to learning. Leaders have actively built strong relationships with Ngāti Hauā and successfully engaged with whānau, hapū and iwi. Theses meaningful partnerships are contributing to students’ sense of connectedness and cultural identity.

Trustees and leaders provide purposeful resourcing. This ensures that all students and staff have access to health and wellbeing services, and equitable opportunities to learn across the curriculum. Leaders and teachers have effectively implemented academic mentoring with groups of students including Māori, Pacific and a Year 12 boys group. This has had a positive impact on student levels of engagement and achievement. Students are benefitting from a positive, respectful culture and a calm, settled environment for learning.

The school actively promotes a culture of care and inclusion for students with additional and high learning needs. Leaders and teachers set high expectations for all learners and this helps build students’ self-efficacy. The pastoral care team work effectively with families and outside agencies to provide comprehensive wrap-around support for students. Teachers provide individual education plans that are tailored to each student’s personal, developmental and achievement goals. These goals are regularly reviewed to ensure classroom programmes meet student needs and support their progress. The school, whānau and community work well together to support students’ successful and effective transitions at critical points on their educational journey.

The school provides effective technical and vocational education training programmes. These occur within the school and in partnership with tertiary and trade providers. Senior students have access to a significant range of vocational courses. The comprehensive careers programme in Years 11 to 13 provides personalised pathways for students based on their needs, interests and strengths. The school can show that most of the students in these programmes are successful in gaining qualifications. Students fully participate and can access coherent, meaningful pathways to further education, training and employment.

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

In-school processes and practices need to be further refined to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners.

A next step for senior leaders is to build school-wide understanding of internal evaluation in relation to targets on accelerating the progress of at-risk students. This is necessary to:

  • establish a clear line of sight through the alignment of targets to at-risk learners, from trustees, leaders, faculties and teachers

  • regularly track, monitor and report to the board on the progress of target students

  • identify the effectiveness of programmes, processes and practices to accelerate the learning of students at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes.

This development includes refining the process for teaching as inquiry to more effectively use data to focus on individual at-risk students. A key component of the process is to plan for their needs, evaluate the effectiveness and modify programmes accordingly.

Senior leaders need to broaden the junior curriculum review to better respond to the interests, needs and strengths of students. Developing a shared understanding of curriculum levels and assessment for learning and moderation across learning areas to ensure consistency is a priority. Teachers need to develop more contextualised, individualised and personalised learning programmes. Further development of student agency and understanding of learning and progress will enable students to track and monitor their own progress and acceleration.

Culturally responsive relational pedagogy and practice needs to be extended and embedded across the school. Consideration should be given to acknowledging the unique place of tangata whenua by reflecting and unpacking the newly revised Treaty of Waitangi policy and what it means in practice for:

  • trustees, leaders and teachers

  • departmental and learning programmes, planning and evaluation

  • the authentic integration of te reo and tikanga Māori and learning resources

  • critically evaluating effective practice and programmes using student and whānau voice.

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 Code of Practice established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the code.Education (Pastoral Care of International Students)2016

At the time of this review there were 57 international students attending the school, including one exchange student.

International students are actively supported and empowered to fully participate in a wide range of opportunities and events. A well-considered and inclusive approach builds learners confidence and independence. The diverse cultures represented in the school are acknowledged and celebrated.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • productive relationships with trustees, parents, whānau, iwi and community that provide equitable opportunities for all students to learn

  • an holistic approach to student wellbeing that actively creates an inclusive environment for learning

  • educational partnerships with tertiary and trades institutes that provide meaningful coherent pathways through the senior school and on to further training and employment.

Next steps

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

  • internal evaluation processes that ensure the alignment of targets, action plans, teacher inquiry and regular reporting to monitor progress and acceleration for at-risk learners

  • curriculum development in junior school to ensure a rich, integrated, contextual programme that better responds to students’ needs, interests and strengths

  • school-wide processes and practices that fully reflect the newly revised Treaty of Waitangi policy of protection, participation and partnership.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

23 May 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 55% Boys 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori 16%
Pākehā 52%
Asian 16%
Other European 5%
Indian 4%
Pacific 4%
Other 3%

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

23 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2013
Education Review June 2010
Education Review June 2007