Halswell School

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Education institution number:
School type:
Full Primary
School gender:
Not Applicable
Total roll:

437 Halswell Road, Halswell, Christchurch

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1 Context

The school has been through significant change since the 2012 ERO review. This includes a full rebuild following the Canterbury earthquakes.

Children now learn in multi-levelled class groups in five large flexible teaching spaces. They are taught by a number of different teachers. Children now have a wider range of facilities and resources to support their learning.

Stable leadership has provided continuity for children and staff during this time of change.

The school community continues to grow as has the school’s roll. The school has close links with community.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are “preparing students for life long success - inspiring every child to imagine, create, learn and believe”. The school wants its students to be active learners, develop key competencies and display values such as care, respect, honesty, resilience. The school's achievement information shows that:

  • in 2014 and 2015, over 85% of children achieved at or above the National Standards in reading and mathematics
  • Māori children continue to achieve at similar levels to their peers
  • high achievement and accelerated progress is particularly evident in reading
  • almost half of those children achieving below the National Standard made accelerated progress in 2015
  • many school groups and individual children participate with success in a variety of sporting and cultural activities.

Since the 2012 ERO evaluation the school has retained the strengths evident at that time and made good progress towards identified areas for improvement. Professional development and resourcing have promoted collaborative practices and extended the range of teaching strategies used to support children's learning and promote their independence.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is very effective in responding to Māori children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Key practices that are supporting such acceleration include:

  • successfully acknowledging and incorporating aspects of these children's culture into school practices, the environment and curriculum
  • providing children with significant opportunities to learn with and from others
  • teachers working in partnership with whānau to support children's learning and wellbeing.

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

The school has a variety of practices that help to respond effectively to children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. For example leaders and teachers:

  • have well-established systems for using robust assessment information to establish appropriate targets for raising student achievement
  • use reflective practices to effectively identify, respond to and monitor the progress of priority learners
  • provide additional support to children at the earliest possible time
  • regularly provide children with a suitable range of targeted needs-based teaching within class and group programmes
  • offer a wide range of additional learning opportunities and support using the staff that are most able to accelerate children’s progress.

The school is very effective in responding to other children whose learning and achievement need accelerating. Children with high and very high needs benefit from well planned and implemented individual education plans which make use of people’s expertise within and beyond the school.

A strength of the school is the way in which school leaders respond to and support children whose progress needs accelerating. There are robust systems for evaluating and reporting the success of interventions and adapting these as necessary.

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 priorities for equity and excellence?

The school’s curriculum effectively enacts the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence.

School leaders and teachers place a high priority on raising learners' achievement, accelerating their progress and promoting their independence. There is an increasing focus being placed on incorporating children's interests into the curriculum, making learning meaningful and enriching their learning through involvement with children from other cultures.

Children are provided with a wide and varied range of learning opportunities with a particular emphasis on literacy, mathematics and cultural and physical activities. Students in years 7-8 are provided with many practical and worthwhile leadership opportunities.

Children learn in a supportive, inclusive, learning-focused environment. They benefit from the range of opportunities they have when working with a variety of teachers and their peers. The positive school culture actively promotes children's sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Ongoing improvements to their practices are helping teachers to be increasingly responsive to children’s strengths and needs. Collaborative teaching practices are leading to better use of staff strengths and more intensive, focused and regular small group teaching for all children.

Children’s personal goal setting and feedback from teachers is helping them to focus on key aspects to their learning. Good use is made of digital technology for teaching and learning. Recent improvements to the reflective practices used by teachers is helping to enhance the quality of teaching programmes.

Strong professional leadership has enabled the school to effectively respond to, and children to benefit from, a period of significant change and challenge. Key features of school leadership and management include:

  • their high expectations for all learners, staff and themselves
  • their strong focus on-going school improvement
  • strategic approach to managing change along with well-considered child-centred decision making informed through on-going internal evaluation
  • ensuring staff receive on-going support and suitable opportunities for building their teaching and leadership capacity and capability
  • promoting a positive school culture that fosters team work, collaboration and reflective practices.

An effective partnership exists between the school and community. Parents are actively involved in the life of the school, supporting their children’s learning and fundraising through the school’s active Parent Teacher Association.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

ERO agrees with the priorities identified by the board and school leaders in regard to embedding and building on several recent initiatives focusing on improving learning and teaching.

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 board, school leaders and ERO agree that:

  • the range of achievement information reported to the board should be extended to include information about other valued learner outcomes beyond reading, writing and mathematics and further explore ways of raising student achievement in writing.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five 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

  • Provision for international students.

International Students

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

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

The school makes very good provision for the education and pastoral care of its international students. These students have wide a variety of opportunities for involvement in the school and local community.

Appropriate systems are in place for managing, planning and reviewing the schools work with international students 

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

19 May 2016 

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 49%; Boys 51%

Ethnic composition



Other Ethnicities




Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

19 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2012

September 2008

June 2005


1 Context

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

The teachers make good use of the school’s location on the outskirts of Christchurch to extend students’ rural and city-based learning experiences. Positive relationships have been established with the local marae.

Students benefit from a wide range of interesting activities that build on their interests, strengths and needs. New Zealand sign language and te reo Māori are taught. Specialist teaching from highly-experienced and qualified teachers in music, drama and dance is a feature of learning programmes. Students’ high level of skills and performance in these areas are recognised and demonstrated at special events and festivals.

The positive school culture is reflected in the pride the staff, students and parents have for the school. Respectful, caring and inclusive relationships exist amongst all these groups. The parents and local community are very supportive of and involved in teaching programmes. An active parent group (PTA) provides ongoing fundraising and practical help.

The international student roll has declined considerably since the earthquakes. The small group of international students has their English language learning very well catered for by an experienced teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Pastoral care is strong and these students are fully integrated into the life of the school.

The Canterbury earthquakes have had a significant effect on school property, requiring students and staff to relocate to other schools for several weeks in 2010. The board, school leaders and staff have maintained a strong focus on ensuring that disruption to students’ learning has been minimal and student wellbeing remains a priority. A counsellor has been employed to support students and staff.

During the on-site stage of this review, the Ministry of Education approved a rebuild of the school on the existing site to begin as soon as plans and processes can be finalised and put in place.

2 Learning

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

The school reports that, in 2011, student achievement overall was very good with most students, including Māori, achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Areas of strength

Extensive enrichment programmes targeting students at risk of underachieving and those needing extension, are thoroughly planned and closely monitored. Qualified teachers and experienced teacher aides work with groups of students to lift their achievement and progress. Reports to the board show that many students make considerable progress as a result of these interventions.

School leaders and teachers have developed some well-considered guidelines for making their judgements about student achievement in relation to the National Standards. They use a suitable range of assessments to make these decisions.

Students are motivated and keen to learn. Their learning is based on their needs and often on real-life situations. A recent survey of Years 7 and 8 students revealed good levels of engagement in learning. Students spoken with by ERO were complimentary about their teachers and how they helped them to learn.

Students use goal setting to take increasing responsibility for their own learning. Many students are able to talk about their achievement and what they need to do to improve.

Area for development and review

Written reports to students and parents could be improved. Further developments are needed to:

  • make it clearer how students are achieving in relation to the National Standards
  • ensure that the language used is easily understood by students and parents
  • report the achievement of students in areas of the curriculum beyond English and mathematics in more detail, particularly for students in Years 5 to 8.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

Areas of strength

The well-designed curriculum is closely linked to the school’s vision of helping students become active learners. A comprehensive and lengthy process was undertaken to gain the views and shared understandings of the parents, staff and student community about what is important for students to know and do. As a result, the curriculum is widely understood and owned within the school.

The inquiry approach to learning has been reviewed and modified to increase students’ interest, give a stronger emphasis to science and improve learning outcomes for students. Early indications suggest that student enjoyment has increased because learning is now more practical and relevant.

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are used increasingly to enhance teaching and learning. This development is well supported by technology resources in all classrooms.

Detailed guidelines support teachers in knowing what to teach, the most effective practices to use and what, how and when to assess.

Teachers have benefited from targeted professional development in extending their knowledge and skills in teaching reading, writing, science and using technology. Many teaching practices match the school’s belief that students learn best in cooperative ways, when learning is meaningful and enjoyable and when they have opportunities to think creatively and solve problems.

Area for development and review

The curriculum suitably includes a focus on bicultural learning. The school leaders and teachers have identified that further development is needed so that the intent of the curriculum principles is applied consistently and bicultural learning is made more visible.

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

While most Māori students achieve well, the school leaders recognise the need to do more to promote success for these students as Māori.

Some positive steps have been taken to achieve this goal including:

  • developing an action plan to increase a Māori dimension within the school
  • appointing a school leader to oversee this development
  • providing a year’s release for a teacher to extend her knowledge and skills in te reo and tikanga Māori
  • recently consulting the parents of Māori students to seek their views about teaching and learning.

The school’s kapa haka has been reinstated for senior students. Māori students have leadership roles, including assisting with the kapa haka.

School leaders have identified that they need to continue to build teachers’ confidence and use of te reo and tikanga Māori in an integrated way in class programmes.

The school community would also benefit from developing a shared understanding of what educational success for Māori as Māori will look like in this school.

Consultation with Māori whānau should now be extended to include discussions about the setting of targets for lifting the achievement of their children where appropriate.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

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

Areas of strength

Professional leadership sets a clear direction for ongoing school improvement. Teachers and other staff report high levels of satisfaction with the support they get from the principal and other school leaders. The principal promotes leadership opportunities for staff. Curriculum leadership, particularly in literacy and the inquiry approach has had a significant impact on raising the quality of teaching programmes. Collaborative relationships are valued and the sharing of ideas helps to spread good practice.

Self review is used effectively to identify what is going well and where improvements are needed. This is strongest at the curriculum level.

School leaders use appraisal effectively to identify good teaching practice and where improvements may be needed. Regular observations and feedback help teachers to continue to extend their use of high-quality practices.

A capable and knowledgeable board works well with the principal and staff to support teaching and learning. The board recognises the value of professional development and has made provision for several teachers to have extended training in science, technology and te reo Māori so that they can lead development in these areas.

Good systems have been established to guide the board in its governance role. Careful financial planning has helped the school manage the reduced budget as a result of the drop in the number of international students and the additional expenses incurred after the earthquakes. The board continues to fund programmes, resources and equipment to benefit students’ learning.

Areas for development and review

The school appropriately aims to raise the achievement of all students. The annual targets now need to give priority to the groups of learners most at risk of not achieving the expected National Standard. The targets should include current achievement levels as a baseline and the rates of progress needed to accelerate their learning. The board and school leaders would then be in a better position to know how effective programmes are in raising the achievement of these students and where further resources may be needed.

The board could extend aspects of self review to more regularly seek the opinions of students, staff and parents about teaching and learning.

Uncertainty about the school’s future after the earthquakes has affected some of the board’s long-term planning and communication with the community. The news that the school will be rebuilt should allow the board to plan more extensively and with greater confidence for future developments.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code). The board has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this ERO review, five international students attended the school. The board is working with other local schools to market internationally to try to increase enrolments of international students in Christchurch schools.

The board and school leaders take a well-planned approach to their provision for international students. A team of leaders, teachers and trustees has responsibility for coordinating and monitoring provisions for these students. The director of the programme effectively supports staff to plan and teach programmes to meet students’ needs, and to ensure their integration across the school.

Students spoken with by ERO said that they enjoyed their schooling and were well supported at the school. These students are fully involved in a range of activities at school and in the wider community.

School leaders regularly review their compliance with the Code and other relevant government regulations. The board receives reports on the International Student programme. The progress students make in their learning could be analysed separately as a group to help identify any common trends in their learning.

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

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.

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

4 December 2012

About the School


Halswell, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 51%; Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā



Other ethnicities





Special Features

RTLB Host School

Review team on site

September 2012

Date of this report

4 December 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2008

March 2005

September 2001