Horsham Downs School

Horsham Downs School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within twenty months of the Education Review Office and Horsham Downs 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


Horsham Downs School is a semi-rural school located in the north of Hamilton and provides education for students in Years 1 to 8. The school has strong links to its local community and is an active member of Te Pae Here Kāhui Ako. The school was part of the original trial that explored ERO’s new approach to school reviews.

Horsham Downs School’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are:

  • empowering learners to aspire, grow and succeed
  • enabling high levels of student engagement
  • growing teacher and leadership capability.

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

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate how effectively school programmes and practices are enabling equitable outcomes for all learners. Promoting successful transition to school, supporting student engagement in learning, and strengthening culturally responsive practices are ongoing priorities for the school.

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is:

  • the school’s strategic focus on evaluating the impact of new teaching and learning approaches to inform local curriculum development
  • the school’s commitment to providing a positive start to learning for all ākonga to enable future learner success
  • the opportunity it provides to respond effectively to school data to improve equitable outcomes for Māori learners, boys, and students with additional needs.

The school expects to see further actions implemented to strengthen culturally responsive practices, enhance the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning and enable continuous improvement in equitable outcomes for learners.


The school can draw from the following strengths to support its goal to enable equitable outcomes for learners:

  • leadership that collaboratively develops and pursues the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence and promotes a collaborative culture for learning
  • well-established planning that clarifies actions for improvement, builds collective capacity through ongoing professional learning and contributes to effective evaluation of the school’s curriculum
  • teaching and learning programmes that enable high levels of student achievement.

Where to next?

Moving forward, the school will prioritise:

  • continuing to strengthen collective capacity in culturally inclusive teaching to further support progress and equitable outcomes for learners
  • ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the local curriculum to enable successful transition to school and higher levels of student engagement in learning
  • collecting and analysing a variety of data including student, parent and whānau voice, to inform responsive planning for improvement.

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

26 October 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

Horsham Downs School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report 2021 to 2024

As of September 2021, the Horsham Downs 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 Horsham Downs School Board of Trustees.

The next Board of Trustees assurance that it is meeting regulatory and legislative requirements is due in September 2024

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

Shelley Booysen
Director of Schools

19 July 2023 

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

Horsham Downs School - 25/01/2017

1 Context

Horsham Downs School is a full primary school, catering for children in Years 1 to 8. It is located in a rural setting and the school zone includes parts of suburban Hamilton and surrounding communities. The school's roll has continued to grow since the last ERO review. Currently, 385 children are enrolled, 45 identify as Māori and a number are from Asian, Pacific and other cultures. The long-standing principal and assistant principal retire at the end of this 2016 year. The board of trustees includes a balance of experienced and new members elected in the 2016 school trustee elections. The school is part of the North East Hamilton Community of learners.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are for students to experience a curriculum, which lays a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy. This vision is to inspire them to aim for personal excellence, and to grow as 'thinking learners, self-managers and good citizens'. Core values of respect and responsibility are promoted.

The school’s achievement information shows that there are consistently high levels of achievement, with a gradual increase in literacy and mathematics achievement between 2011 and 2015.

The school’s Public Achievement Information for 2015 shows that 87% of children achieved at or above the National Standards in writing, 93% in reading and 88% in mathematics. Māori children’s achievement is comparable to their non-Māori peers. While there continues to be disparity between the achievement of boys and girls, particularly in writing, the proportion of boys achieving the expected National Standard exceeds the national comparison.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • undertaken significant professional development, particularly in writing, mathematics, and digital learning
  • strengthened teaching as inquiry processes and engaged in critical reflection to evaluate the benefits and limitations of different teaching approaches for specific children
  • strengthened approaches to ensuring equitable outcomes for children with special learning needs.

Teachers use a range of assessment tools, and the school has well-developed systems for supporting teachers to make overall judgements about children's achievement in relation to National Standards.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has been highly effective in responding to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. The school reports that nearly all Māori children who were identified as achieving below National Standards in writing and mathematics at the beginning of 2016 are making accelerated progress.

Senior leaders and teachers have developed robust processes for internally moderating overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. This enables them to clearly identify Māori children whose learning and progress needs acceleration, and also to identify their learning needs.

The school responds well to the needs of at risk children in the following ways:

  • The board carefully scrutinises data to identify trends and patterns, and set challenging targets.
  • Leaders use student achievement information effectively to identify trends and patterns of achievement over time.
  • Leaders and teachers work collaboratively to enable children to achieve expected standards and have a good understanding of accelerated progress.
  • Progress towards school targets is closely monitored.
  • Teachers consistently use achievement information to identify and respond to children learning strengths and needs.
  • Parents are effectively engaged as partners in their children's learning.
  • There is specific alignment between school targets, teacher appraisal and professional learning and development.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has responded effectively to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. The school reports that the significant majority of non-Māori children who were identified as achieving below National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics at the beginning of 2016 are making are accelerated progress.

The school uses the same effective practices for identifying other children at risk of underachieving as it does for Māori children.

Inclusive and supportive school practices and culture ensure access to the full curriculum for children with special needs. A knowledgeable Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) brings a very systematic approach to identifying, monitoring and responding to the learning, strengths and needs of these and other children.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum and other organisational processes and practices effectively develop and enact the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

The knowledgeable and experienced principal and senior leaders share a well-developed understanding of, and commitment to, equity and excellence for all children. This clear vision for teaching and learning is embedded in school-wide practices. Leaders have shared and high expectations for teachers. In line with the school vision for the 'Horsham Downs Learner' there is careful attention given to the holistic wellbeing and development of children. School leaders promote and participate in school-wide professional development, focussed support, coaching and mentoring for teachers. A deliberate and well-considered approach to growing teachers' capability is contributing to the promotion of equity and excellence for children.

Leaders have established effective internal evaluation focused on ongoing school improvement. Leaders and teachers work together effectively to regularly review and modify the curriculum, interventions and innovations. An effective and well-supported teaching as inquiry process is enabling teachers to identify successful strategies for engaging children and accelerating their progress. This culture of inquiry allows teachers and leaders to respond adaptively and flexibly to children’s identified needs whether these are academic, physical, social or emotional.

The curriculum is well designed with many opportunities for children to experience success and enjoy their learning. It ensures coverage and balance across the whole of The New Zealand Curriculum. The well-considered and strategic approach to digital learning is enhancing learning opportunities and students' engagement, particularly in writing and mathematics. Learning programmes are individualised, and take account of and respond to children's strengths and needs.

The next step is to consider ways to embed Māori values and incorporate local Tainui history and heritage in the Horsham Down's curriculum. This development will be supported through continued learning and investigation into culturally responsive practices, including strategies to deepen students' understanding of and decisions about their own learning.

Teachers use a broad range of innovative strategies that respond to the whole child in order to accelerate their learning, progress and achievement within a rich and broad curriculum. They demonstrate high levels of curriculum knowledge and knowledge of effective teaching strategies. Some of these observed by ERO include:

  • opportunities for children to revisit and consolidate learning
  • one-to-one conferencing
  • cooperative learning
  • the use of peers to tutor and support other children's learning
  • the use of exemplars to make clear to children what good quality work looks like
  • effective strategies for providing feedback and feedforward
  • the use of meaningful and authentic contexts for learning.

These effective practices, along with respectful, reciprocal relationships encourage and motivate children to be confident, take risks and experience learning success.

The school has effectively established partnerships for learning with parents. They are well informed about their children’s successes and challenges, and how they can support them with learning. Parents are well supported with guidance and resources to help at home and to understand current teaching approaches and support their children's learning at home. Teachers have established many useful communication strategies with parents, including face-to-face and digital opportunities. Parents also make a significant contribution to the wider curriculum. These learner-centred partnerships are significant in accelerating children’s progress and fostering a sense of pride in their achievements.

The board is representative of the community and is clearly focused on supporting school priorities. Trustees are well informed about student achievement. They allocate generous resourcing in response to identified learning needs and challenges. The board operates strategically in response to continuing roll growth. They seek parent input for charter review to periodically refresh the school’s vision, values and strategic direction. There is a good balance of long-standing and new trustees, which should support continuity of stewardship for the school.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The school is well placed to address the next steps identified in consultation with ERO during the Education Review process because:

  • the knowledgeable and experienced principal and leadership team have embedded a strong culture of internal evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building
  • there is a collective understanding and commitment to achieving equity and excellence for all children
  • an inclusive school culture and supportive practices are well established
  • there are reciprocal partnerships with parents that support learning and contribute to accelerated progress
  • there is consistent implementation of effective teaching practices and a rich curriculum underpinned by the school vision, core values and aspirations for Horsham Downs learners
  • trustees are highly committed to supporting school and community priorities.

The next steps for the board in a changing education environment are to:

  • regularly review the board's performance in relation to effective stewardship
  • take a more systematic approach to board training
  • strengthen school-wide policy review
  • ensure principal’s appraisal is regular and covers both developmental and accountability aspects.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

7 Recommendation

The school responds effectively to all children whose learning and progress needs acceleration. Consideration should now be given to strengthening opportunities for Māori children to succeed with cultural learning opportunities, and ensuring stewardship continues to be responsive to the rapidly changing education environment. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

25 January 2017 

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition






Other Asian









Review team on site

December 2016

Date of this report

25 January 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2012

April 2009

December 2005