Halswell Residential College

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

There may be delays between reviews for some schools and kura due to Covid-19 and while we transition to our new way of reviewing.

Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

Education institution number:
School type:
Special School
School gender:
School for pupils with intellectual impairments
Total roll:

15 Nash Road, Halswell, Christchurch

View on map

School Context

Halswell Residential College (HRC) is a specialist residential school located in Christchurch. It has a roll of 17 students (aged 7 years to 17 years) who need significant programme adaptation and whose educational, social and emotional needs cannot be met in their local environment. The school has a maximum roll of 32 students.

Since the 2014 ERO review the residential houses have been rebuilt on the original school site. The new build includes four residential whare that each cater to the needs of up to eight students, and have new playgrounds. In 2017 the college became a co-educational facility.

HRC is part of a programme of national provision of intensive support for children and young people with complex educational needs requiring significant adaptation of the curriculum. Students are currently referred to the school as part of the Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS). They are resident there for up to two years, with most staying significantly less than that length of time.

A Ministry-appointed Board was established in 2014. The board governs Halswell Residential College and Westbridge Residential School in Auckland.

The school’s vision is for students to ‘be the best they can be’ (whakarangatirahia). The school’s mission supports students to:

  • maximise their learning, strengths and potential and to develop pro-social behaviours

  • enhance their cultural identity and self-efficacy

  • successfully transition back to their whānau, school and community.

The foundations for achieving this vision are the key values of whakaute (respect), manaakitanga (care), whanaungatanga (partnerships), pono (honesty), taha wairua and taha tinana (wellbeing and positive identity) and taha hinengaro (nurturing mental wellbeing).

The school’s ‘philosophy of care’ outlines how all staff and students will contribute to the wellbeing and learning of each student through ‘being a learner, being safe and showing respect’. The school’s current strategic priorities are aligned with providing positive culturally responsive environments where ‘living is learning’. The school works in partnership with the Ministry of Education, parents and whānau.

The school has made good progress in areas identified for improvement in the 2014 ERO report, including having a strategic focus on financial viability. As the new Direct Referral Pathway to residential schools is implemented, the school is considering ways to provide equitable access to the high quality education and care that Halswell Residential College currently provides for students who are referred as part of the Intensive Wraparound Service.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • progress/achievement in relation to school and individual student targets

  • engagement and wellbeing for success

  • achievement in literacy and mathematics

  • whole school improvement trends

  • outcomes related to engagement, wellbeing and safety for success

  • transition into and out of the school.

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?

All students are effectively supported to achieve personal equity and excellence. Almost all students are achieving the school’s valued equity and excellence outcomes. The key competencies, especially managing self, participating and contributing are key drivers of the curriculum.

The school gathers a wide range of useful data to record students’ progress and achievement. The data is well analysed and used to inform relevant and appropriate next steps for each student. Students are included in assessments and know their goals, progress and achievements. This approach is clearly building their confidence as learners.

Other priorities for learning include developing the skills and dispositions for wider community participation, as well as home living, designed to increase students’ independence. School information from Individual Education Plans (IEPs), home living and community participation assessments (ABAS), and their relation to valued learning and wellbeing outcomes, shows that almost all students made expected progress over time.

School information for 2018 shows that most students met or exceeded targets in literacy and numeracy.

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

The school is very effective in its response to those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school’s learning information shows that most target students have made accelerated progress in their learning. Leaders, teachers and residential staff provide well considered individualised plans and programmes to address the specific needs of students. They regularly evaluate the effectiveness of these approaches to monitor the sufficiency of students’ participation and progress. Strong emphasis is placed on professional development to support teaching practices that will better target learning acceleration.

All students’ learning, progress and achievement requires and receives additional support. This includes:

  • extensive collaborative planning which includes parents’/whānau and specialist services’ input

  • increased resourcing

  • targeted and regular professional reflection and review.

This support enables students to engage meaningfully in their personalised learning in order to make accelerated progress.

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?

The school’s processes and practices are highly effective in enabling the achievement of equity and excellence.

There is strong professional leadership across the school. Leaders have created a high trust, caring culture that enables innovation and improvement. Positive relationships and a culture of collaboration within the school and with the wider school community provide high levels of care and rich learning opportunities for students

Leaders regularly analyse student achievement data, and use in-depth internal evaluations of teaching and learning approaches within the 24/7 curriculum, to make informed decisions. These decisions are clearly based on supporting teachers and residential staff to continue to provide the high quality, effective practices that are essential to the wellbeing and success of students at HRC.

The school’s 24/7 curriculum is very responsive to students’ strengths, culture, needs, and interests. Students benefit from a highly differentiated and adaptive curriculum. They have extensive opportunities to participate and succeed in the school and wider community. The curriculum is specifically designed to balance academic learning and living skills, and to significantly enhance students’ social and emotional competencies. The school curriculum and vision are both focused on supporting students to independently reintegrate into their community.

The school has well-embedded culturally responsive practices woven into the 24/7 curriculum. Te reo and tikanga Māori, including core concepts such as manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, wairua and tuakana-teina, are a natural part of life at the school. School-based assessment information shows that these approaches are highly effective in enhancing students’ learning, engagement and sense of belonging.

Cohesive and coherent schoolwide systems and processes have ensured consistency of practices for students and from all staff. Teachers and students are well supported in living and learning by highly skilled support staff who are a vital part of the collaborative care model. Teachers and residential staff benefit from deep and focused professional development clearly aligned with school priorities and the specific needs of students. Highly effective and adaptive teaching practices are increasing student ownership of their learning, with positive outcomes.

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

School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that the school should continue to draw on existing identified strengths to pursue excellence in innovation. In particular, using the research and recommendations from the Principal’s sabbatical report, and the indicators for student success identified in partnership with the Ministry of Education (IWS).

The school should also continue its focus on ways to meaningfully measure these new developments.

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 students in the school hostel

All the students are accommodated in four houses. The houses are licensed as the school hostel by the Ministry of Education. The board has attested in a Hostel Assurance Statement that it meets minimum standards as specified in the hostel regulations.

The residential houses were rebuilt in 2017. The houses are referred to as whare within the school. These whare are purpose-built to house eight students each. Each student has their own room. They are specifically designed to have a home-like environment and to provide for the safety and wellbeing of students.

One of the whare is focused on kaupapa and tikanga Māori. Whare Tauawa provides a rich bicultural environment that supports students’ language, culture and identity within the whare. Tuakana/Teina relationships support the self-management of students and provide leadership opportunities.

The houses are appropriately staffed and well-managed. Residential staff develop supportive relationships with students as they work closely with them individually and in groups. Staff organise a range of opportunities for learning within the house such as home and living skills. Staff plan with and for students to engage in recreational activities. They support students to participate in their interests or sports within the wider community. Most students are in regular contact with their family or whānau.

Staff focus on supporting students to learn new ways of communicating, behaving and interacting. Regular professional learning and development builds staff capability to understand and support the young people in their care and to develop their own practice. Students are effectively supported to develop self-management and social and communication skills that are important for their successful return to their own communities.

Residential staff contribute significantly to high quality student information that the school collects about each young person’s growth and development. Residential staff, along with other school staff, work closely with IWS to bring together appropriate plans and approaches for individual students. They are aware of the challenges for the students in independently using the skills they have learned when they are in the wider community.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • strong leadership that has established a high trust collaborative school culture that places the wellbeing and success of all students at the centre

  • rich curriculum that is responsive to students’ strengths, culture, needs and interests

  • coherent systems which support processes that enhance student safety and wellbeing

  • effective communication systems which strengthen the partnership with families/whānau and specialist agencies in realising shared valued outcomes for students

  • a reflective environment that promotes capability and capacity building for ongoing improvement.

Next steps

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

  • further developing and implementing the new curriculum, including differentiated assessments.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in four-to-five years.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

31 January 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 13 ; Girls 4

Ethnic composition

Māori 7

Pākehā 9

Pacific 1

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

31 January 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2014

Education Review September 2008

Education Review May 2005


Students benefit from useful and effective teaching and positive relationships with staff. The curriculum is adapted to meet students' complex special needs. The minister appointed board is strongly focused on supporting staff in meeting students' needs. The board and staff are awaiting Ministry of Education decisions for matters at present having some affect on staff morale.

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?

Halswell Residential College provides education and care for students with intellectual difficulties, social, emotional and/or behavioural needs that cannot be adequately met in their home communities. Government decisions relating to special education resulted in a significant decrease in the roll in 2013. This required major restructuring affecting funding and a reduction in teaching and residential staff.

The school is now part of the intensive wraparound service (IWS). The maximum roll determined by the Ministry of Education (MOE) is 32 students.

At the time of the ERO review, there were 18 students attending. Ten of these students were from the upper North Island. The principal has held the position for approximately two and a half years. There have been recent changes in management roles, and in the way that student learning needs are addressed in the day school and residential programmes.

The school is governed by a minister appointed board of trustees that also governs Westbridge Residential School in Auckland. This board took up its governance role at the start of 2014. Historically, Halswell Residential College has been a school for boys. Although the school is not designated co-educational, a small number of girls has been enrolled in 2014 with Ministry of Education approval. The board has decided to request a change to co-educational status.

The college has made significant progress in addressing the areas for further development outlined in the September 2008 ERO report. These include:

  • increased use of direct teaching strategies that help individual students with their learning
  • self review that is more clearly focused on ongoing improvements that promote positive outcomes for students
  • effective use of achievement information to plan programmes that meets students’ holistic needs.

The school engages effectively with students’ families and the local community. These positive interactions strongly support student learning and wellbeing. However, the quality of provisions for students is at some risk because of a number of unresolved issues that are outside the school’s control.

2 Learning

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

Students are motivated in their learning and gently guided by their teachers and support staff. Teachers effectively use information about each student’s learning to promote their engagement and progress. Individualised learning programmes take good account of students’ interests and needs. Well-structured individual education plans (IEPs) are highly informative for staff, students, parents and whānau.

Most students have considerable delays in their achievement. Progress in literacy, numeracy and social behaviours targeted for learning, is closely monitored. Teachers provide highly focused teaching in these areas. Students’ learning needs are well addressed in both the school and residential settings. Consistent behaviour management practices increase students’ capability to adapt their behaviour.

Students have good opportunities to work towards a certificate level qualification through the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) supported learning units. Students can also access National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1 programmes through Te Kura (The Correspondence School). These programmes provide meaningful experiences that help them to return to their local school or to further education or employment contexts.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum provides a useful model that promotes effective and consistent teaching practices to meet the special needs of students.

The curriculum reflects the college community’s aspirations for students. Teachers have high expectations for students’ learning and behaviour. The curriculum outlines effective teaching strategies and positive learning environments that will promote this.

Teachers plan a range of opportunities for students to learn and experience success through their interests and abilities. This includes participation in sport, music, science-related activities, art and community events. Curriculum guidelines cover both the school and residential programmes as well as education beyond the classroom. It encourages teachers to adapt programmes to better meet students’ needs. Strong emphasis is given to enabling students to develop the key competencies outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum.

Students are positive about the programmes they are involved in and appreciate opportunities to participate in sports, music and cultural activities. Teachers and students are well supported in their use of technologies by a specialist provider.

Area for review and development

The curriculum provides useful guidelines for planning and teaching that will effectively support outcomes for students. The board has agreed to develop the vision and values in conjunction with the MOE and the IWS. The managers and teachers will then need to extend the curriculum so that it includes the school’s vision and values. These will give greater prominence to the meaningful ways that students’ social development and the school’s culture are promoted.

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

Māori students are well able to achieve success as Māori. They experience positive and caring relationships with all staff. The college supports Māori staff in providing a range of cultural experiences for students. These include karakia, haka, pōwhiri, whaikōrero (speech) waiata, marae protocols and ngā mahi toi (art). Students have good opportunities to learn te reo and tikanga Māori (the Māori language and culture) in a strongly-supportive whānau environment.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific students?

Pacific students also experience positive relationships with all staff and members of the Pacific community. The college has a Pacific caucus which supports students, their parents and families.

Students have good opportunities to participate in church, social events and community special events. A strong relationship exists between the college and the local Pacific community.

Māori and Pacific culture, language and identity are valued by staff. This positive recognition builds students’ self esteem. Students are highly engaged in their learning and are making progress towards achieving their IEP goals.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Shared leadership is evident at the college. Staff strengths are effectively used to meet the school’s goals for teaching and learning. Internal systems ensure good levels of communication exist across the school so that students’ circumstances and needs are known and well understood by all staff. The school has positive working relationships with IWS staff throughout the country. Staff professional learning and development needs are well met by the board.

Teachers and residential staff consistently use reflective practice as an essential part of their focus on continuous improvement. The school’s well-planned self review gives appropriate emphasis to aspects of the programmes and procedures that particularly affect on outcomes for students.

Although some trustees are relatively new to the board, they collectively bring considerable experience and expertise to their governance role. They work collaboratively with the college management to help staff in meeting the needs of students.

Areas for review and development

The board and senior managers provide good support for staff in meeting the needs of students. The board has made provision for immediate education specialist support for teachers. The next step is for the board to consider ways to maintain and finance this level of specialist support.

While staff are strongly committed to meeting student needs, there is ongoing uncertainty about funding and the school’s future viability. The school has a projected substantial budget deficit which means it would not be able to sustain its operations beyond 2014.

Provision for students in the school hostel

In this review, ERO evaluated the extent to which the school villas (hostels) provide a safe physical and emotional environment that promotes learning for students accommodated there. The villas are licensed by the Ministry of Education and are required to comply with minimum standards as specified in the hostel regulations. The board attested in a Hostel Assurance Statement that it meets these requirements. The villas are able to take up to 90 students, but at present only 18 students are accommodated.

The villas are well managed. The management structure promotes good communication and systems between the villas. Useful guidelines lead to cohesive practices that meet college requirements for the education and wellbeing of students. Low numbers in the villas and positive relationships between staff and students create a family-like environment.

Staff are nurturing and supportive and maintain consistent expectations that students are familiar with and adhere to. Roster systems allow staff to be present in the villas at all times. Specific supervision during night-time hours strongly supports the safety and security of all students.

The 24/7 education programme allows staff to organise a variety of planned and informal learning experiences. These opportunities build students’ competencies in managing themselves and developing independence in preparation for moving back to their home communities. Staff share notes about student wellbeing through the school’s database. This approach effectively enables all staff to support students with any particular areas of concern.

The senior manager reports regularly to the board via the principal.

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.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends the Ministry of Education continue to work with the school in relation to IWS, funding and co-educational options to better enable the school to address the issues outlined in this report.


Students benefit from useful and effective teaching and positive relationships with staff. The curriculum is adapted to meet students' complex special needs. The minister appointed board is strongly focused on supporting staff in meeting students' needs. The board and staff are awaiting Ministry of Education decisions for matters at present having some affect on staff morale.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

12 August 2014

About the School


Halswell, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 13 (The college has a Notional Roll of 32)Girls 5

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Special Features

Residential School

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

12 August 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2008

May 2005

June 2002