How We Do Things Here

Sometimes parents/caregivers have questions, or wonder why we do things the way we do them here, especially when it is different compared to their child’s last school or when they were at school (which was a while ago for all of us). Here is everything you need to know about how we approach learning here at Henry Hill School, as we lift the lid off learning.


Our #CanKidz

 Our Can Kidz understand that learning is all around us and never stops. They have total self-belief (or are developing it). They understand that they own their learning, own the choices and decisions they make, and take responsibility. They own their awesome-ness and acknowledge and celebrate the awesome-ness of others.

We want our Can Kidz to live in the ‘grey area’ or on the ‘edge of their comfort zone’ as this is where the real challenge and often the real learning lives.

Our Can Kidz are proactive, recognise opportunities, and see any obstacles and barriers as challenges they step up to meet head on, and opportunities to take responsibility and demonstrate perseverance and resilience. We don’t do ‘can’t’ here! They learn best when taking part in hands-on or virtual experiences.



CAN KIDZ Philosophy

Our Can Kidz Philosophy started several years ago when it was noticed that many students lacked perseverance and resilience and were used to giving up when learning or tasks started to get hard. The word ‘can’t’ was banned and we came up with the term ‘Can Kidz’, which has stuck.

It links strongly to our school’s six Values and also our Vision and Mission Statement.

All of our learners are Can Kidz. They each have a place here at Henry Hill School and bring with them their own funds of knowledge, cultural values and competencies and each bring a unique lens in which they view and value learning and the world around them. 

Our Can Kidz have total self-belief (or are developing it). They understand that they own their learning, own the choices and decisions they make, and take responsibility. 

They own their awesome-ness and acknowledge and celebrate the awesome-ness of others. 

We want our Can Kidz to live on the ‘edge of their comfort zone’ or in the ‘grey area’, as this is where the real challenge and often the real learning lives. 

Our Can Kidz are proactive, recognise opportunities, and see any obstacles and barriers as challenges they step up to meet head on, and opportunities to take responsibility and demonstrate perseverance and resilience.


Bullying - Our Approach: Building Resilience

We talk to our kids about expectations and when they don't meet them we talk about the learning that needs to take place next, or from now on. That's it! No drawn out flow charts and steps systems.

This proactive approach through visibility, modelling expectations, making positive connections with our kids and ensuring support systems are in place so our Can Kidz can achieve success means we have little in the way of behavioural issues.

School is a cool place, it's a safe place, and it provides opportunities to take risks, make mistakes and to learn from them.

We have over 170 families represented here with probably 170 different ways to deal with kids behaviour at home. Some have the same values as us, same have different values, and some have some very different values. From these families we then put all 260-ish kids together and you’ve got Henry Hill School!

Prior to starting school some kids are taught to share, some aren’t; some are taught that you keep your hands to yourself, some aren’t - so it’s all about learning what is acceptable, here.

We have lots of different initiatives and programmes in place that are all pro-active so the likelihood of any issues is small. This approach has worked extremely well over the past four years I’ve been Principal here.

We want to build up our kids self-esteem, build their resilience when faced with challenging situations, and teach them how to better manage themselves because you ‘CAN’ control your behaviour. This is a big part of our ‘CAN’ Kidz philosophy.

We don’t use the word ‘bullying’ here as in our experience the word is mostly mis-used and often due to parents just knowing or being aware of one side of the story.  Do we have kids that can be annoying at times - of course we do, but it’s not bullying and usually it’s kids being kids or kids simply - just being annoying (or in some cases kids not using the strategies we share with them – over the page)

Some things to be aware of: There are 3 sides to every story

  1. Person A’s side of the story (typically a partial version of the truth)

  2. Person B’s side of the story (also a partial version of the truth)

  3. The truth

Sometimes it takes a discussion involving both sides before the truth comes out. It’s not about anyone lying it’s just that kids don’t want to disappoint and don’t like being in trouble so at times the truth can be conveniently ‘altered’ to avoid these things happening.

At times we hear scenarios like these in the playground, and occasionally in class:

‘ _____________ is annoying me.’

‘______________ called me __________’

‘______________ is being mean to me’


How a child reacts to these situations determines what happens next. Here are the best ways to deal with annoying behaviour.

We let our kids know that:

1) Yes. Some people are annoying; and

2) People can call you anything they want.

We hope that this doesn’t happen here but in life you are always going to have to face up to and deal with situations like this.

Strategies we share with and teach the kids to use when things don’t go as planned in the class or in the playground…

  1. Tell them to - ‘STOP IT!’ and tell them what it is they are doing that you don’t like!

  2. Walk away - a simple strategy but one of the most effective ones! If someone’s annoying you and you choose to move away from them youve taken control of the situation.

  3. If the person annoying you chooses to follow you then let someone else know - older Can Kid, School Leader, Duty Teacher.

These strategies work!


Values & Key Competencies

In 2016 we introduced 3 new Values: Resilience, Perseverance & Responsibility. In saying that, they’ve always been important to us anyway; but now we are being proactive in really focusing on them in-depth. Role Models like NZ Olympian Double Gold Medalist Valerie Adams and WWE Superstar John Cena are positive examples that epitomise these values. Both demonstrate a Never Give Up attitude and prove that Anything Is Possible!

Our other 3 Values are: Creative, Confident, Connected; which have been in place for over 5 years now.

The Ministry of Education’s New Zealand Curriculum has 5 Key Competencies: Managing Self, Using Language, Symbols & Texts, Thinking, Relating To Others, Participating & Contributing.

The New Zealand Curriculum states: ‘People use these competencies to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities. More complex than skills, the competencies draw also on knowledge, attitudes, and values in ways that lead to action. They are not separate or stand-alone. They are the key to learning in every learning area.’

We have developed our own curriculum and we actively look for ways to integrate our Values, Key Competencies and Mission Statement & Vision with our Experiences. 

We believe that if our Can Kidz leave Henry Hill School with these 6 Values and a good grasp of the Key Competencies; they will be well prepared for what life after Henry Hill School has instore for them.

This year we have modified our End of Year Written Reports to include our Can Kidz Pathway which is a summary of the Values, Key Competencies and Mission Statement & Vision.


Growth Mindsets

It’s all about Belief. If we Believe we CAN, there’s a greater chance that we will!

It starts with changing our mindsets and approaches to how we deliver learning, but it also means we are more mindful of the words we use when we feedback and talk to and with our Can Kidz, because that makes a huge difference to how they perceive themselves as learners.

We encourage our Can Kidz to take risks. We encourage them to make mistakes. And we help them to develop strategies to assist them when the learning becomes hard or seems impossible.

Our Can Kidz believe that they can learn, change, and develop needed skills. They are better equipped to handle inevitable setbacks, and know that hard work, owning and taking responsibility for successes and setbacks, perseverance and resilience can help them accomplish their goals.

When they face challenges they step up to them and eventually conquer them.

We are true to our Mission Statement: 

‘Where Kids CAN Achieve Anything!”

For our Learning Facilitators and Staff, a Growth Mindset involves modelling the same process: taking risks, working outside of our comfort zones, and enquiring into how we can make learning even more beneficial for our Can Kidz.

Providing our Can Kidz with timely and focussed feedback and feedforward is the key to scaffolding and supporting their learning and helping to develop their Growth Mindsets.


Facilitating Learning vs Teaching

When we were at primary school teachers generally stood at the front and taught/talked to, or at, the whole class. Little consideration was given to the different needs within the class. It was basically a one size fits all approach.

Education used to be about having to recall information whereas now our learners need to be able to know how to effectively access information, because nowadays it’s available at the touch of a button, and it’s pretty much instant!

This is a vital skill our kids will need to survive and thrive in the 21st Century, and we’ve seen significant advances in technology over the past 5-10 years, and there are no signs of slowing down. 

Teaching and Facilitating Learning are two very different approaches.

Teaching still infers or means telling or giving information, whereas Facilitating Learning means sitting with and working collaboratively with kids, rather than leading from the front of the class. It means setting the scene for learning through an experience and allowing the kids to take part, learn for themselves, and question to push their learning further. 

As Learning Facilitators our job is to not to teach but to help unlock learning for our Can Kidz so they have the ability and skills to access learning themselves, because learning is everywhere and it doesn’t just happen between the hours of 9:00am - 3:00pm Monday to Friday!


Learning Experiences

Our Can Kidz learn best when taking part in hands on or virtual experiences.

We don’t stand at the front and tell anymore, we sit with and amongst the kids. We set the scene, zip our mouths (unless we’re questioning to get the kids to think even deeper about what they’re doing) and let the kids do the learning.

Our Learning Experiences are designed to excite, inspire and challenge our Can Kidz to ignite their natural curiosity. That means not spoling the fun aspects of learning through telling our Can Kidz what they are going to learn; instead they discover the learning themselves!

We provide real world contexts that are rich, engaging and promote risk-taking, exploration, and problem solving.

Our Experiences are flexible and provide a springboard to further learning opportunities, allowing for student agency and ownership that encourages true questioning and inquiry learning. Our Can Kidz come up with questions and not just answers. Mistakes are learning opportunities to be reflected on, questioned, challenged and eventually conquered. 

We plan for specific outcomes and learning opportunities as Learning facilitators, and the best way to describe the process is that it’s ‘Map-less’ with multiple learner led pathways.


Tribes & Tribal Warfare Challenges

High Schools and Intermediates traditionally have had Houses for many, many years, but we wanted to do it a bit differently here and in 2012 we introduced Houses, later renamed Tribes.

We wanted to make sure that we gave ALL of our Can Kidz the opportunity to thrive both inside and outside the classroom, so we designed Tribal Warfare Challenges that catered to everyone’s strengths, and not just sport like most schools do. 

We have four school Tribes here: Tuhirangi, Otatara, Heipipi, and Kohukete; all named after local maunga/mountains in the Napier region. Our Tribes system celebrates whanaungatanga, encourages tuakana/teina, and inclusiveness - Everyone belongs!

On Tribal Warfare Challenge days the school (adults included) comes dressed in their Tribe colours. Tribes design their own flags, chants, and face paint designs and the atmosphere is electric! 


Talk It Up!

As the name suggests – Talk It Up is all about Talking!   This programme is available to any of our Can Kidz who need to build on their oral language skills.

Oral language is a very important skill and is directly linked to progress in Reading and Writing.  The stronger a child’s oral language the easier they are able to make the necessary connections to build on their literacy.

So Talk it Up was created especially for our Can Kidz who need that extra bit of support.  It is delivered by our awesome Learning Support Facilitators – Joy, Viki, Fiona, Jaz - who provide our Can Kidz with hands on experiences that get them talking, listening, questioning, clarifying, directing, discovering, and much more.

This programme is run most Fridays. Each small group is immersed in their activity for half an hour.  The activities change each week and are designed to maximise discussion, discovering and fun.


Learning Support Programmes

Our Year 1 & 2 Can Kidz are the most fortunate kids around. There are so many Learning Support Programmes available that if they show up to school everyday they will fly with their learning!

Many of our Can Kidz begin their formal learning here at Henry Hill School, not ‘school ready’, so we really have to work hard to accelerate their learning over these two years, so that they are ready for our ILE Classes which focus heavily on both Self-Guided Learning as well as Collaborative Learning.

Reading Discovery is a Reading Intervention programme available for 6 year olds. We currently have 6 Can Kidz on the programme working 1:1 with experienced facilitator Sarah Lee 5 days per week.

Our Talk It Up Programme caters for Can Kidz who need a bit of extra support with their Oral Language and Speech and is facilitated by our multi-skilled Learning Support Facilitators: Viki, Joy, Fiona, Jaz.

We also have access to RTLit (Resource Teacher of Literacy) for Can Kidz that need extra Reading support, RTLB (Resource Teacher of Learning & Behaviour) who may find learning in general a bit hard at times, and also Public Health Nurses to ensure health related issues aren't barriers to learning.

The only way our Can Kidz wont progress here is if they don't attend school regularly (and yes, that’s exactly what our data shows!)



Our AWE-ssemblies are fun, interactive and are all about celebrating the achievements and growth of our Can Kidz. They are held on Fridays at 9:15am. We sing songs, dance, classes present learning, and we also have special guest presenters. AWE-ssemblies are a time to reflect, share and celebrate our school’s successes. We award: Best Class Attendance, CAN KIDZ of the Week, Sports Awards, Special Awards, present Class Learning Presentations and name our Weekly Tribal Warfare Champions! At the end of every term we hold a Term Celebration AWE-ssembly where we acknowledge those that have really stepped up over the course of the term. They are fun, interactive and totally about our CAN KIDZ.



At the end of each school year we hold our annual Prizegiving. Prizegiving is an evening event with all Can Kidz coming in school uniform, and Year 6's dressed formally. Even the staff get dressed up as we acknowledge the learning and achievements of our Can Kidz over the course of the year. Prizegiving attracts huge crowds and the hall is always packed.

It is an extension of our Termly Celebration AWE-ssemblies and our regular Friday AWE-ssemblies.

Each class awards a Can Kid of The Year, and 2x Merit Runners-Up certificates. We also award 100% Attendance, Sports, Kapa Haka Kaea, Leadership, Academic Dux, Can Kid of the Year - which is our top award.




In 2012 we introduced a Leadership programme into our school for our Year 6s. They are easy to identify as they wear a white school uniform shirt.

This programme has evolved and in 2015 and 2017 we named a Year 5 as a School Leader! This year we have 20+ School Leaders, which is the most we've ever had!

School Leaders are excellent role models and cover gate duty in the mornings;greeting our Can Kidz and families as they enter the school grounds, organise, set-up and facilitate our weekly AWE-ssemblies, run interactive buddy reading sessions with some of our younger learners, and represent our school at community events. Our School Leaders also serve as Tribe Leaders which is a major responsibility here and their task is to lead and fire up their Tribe members for our regular Tribal Warfare Challenges.

We name new School Leaders at our annual Prizegiving, but as kids step up during the year we take note and sometimes we even award our Leaders shirts at our weekly AWE-ssemblies! 



Year 6 Camp

Our Year 6s take part in an end-of-year Camp experience each year!

It provides our Can Kidz with many opportunities to challenge themselves in the outdoors and to demonstrate our Values of Resilience and Perseverance.

It's a real camp too! Down by the river, sleeping in tents, rafting, hiking, and getting to swim (and bomb!) in the river!

The Camp typically costs $100 per Can Kid (which is heavily subsidised by the BOT).


Kapa Haka & Pasifika

Our Can Kidz love Kapa Haka & Pasifika, and we are fortunate to be able to offer both a Tuakana and a Teina group beginning at Year 1 and going through to Year 6 in Kapa Haka and a Y3-6 Pasifika Group.  The Groups are selected based on Attendance, Attitude, Ability. Selections are made after trials.

There are lots of opportunities for our Can Kidz to step up and lead as Kaea and to show off their waiata and performance skills.

The kids get to perform some well know waiata, sasa and haka and are also exposed to new waiata/songs and haka which helps to round out their knowledge and experiences of Tikanga Maori and Pasifika.

Every Can Kid here gets to learn waiata and haka, but our performance groups are selected after trials and practices early in the year. Part of being involved in Kapa Haka and Pasifika is showing our Values and demonstrating committment and displaying a great attitude. Those Can Kidz that are selected get to take part in noho here at school where they get to make poi, and work together as one whanau unit.

Each year our Kapa Haka group gets to perform at the Ngati Kahungunu Festival which is held in Hastings at the end of Term 3 and our Junior Kapa Haka Roopu and Pasifika groups get to perform for our Community late in Term 3.


ILE & Learning Devices

We are an Apple Distinguished School (one of only 5 in NZ!) and all of our Learning Facilitators are accredited Apple Teachers! Our Year 1-6 Classes are all Innovative Learning Environments with 1:1 iPad accessibility for all Can Kidz. 

We facilitate learning with and through devices and modern technology and also create hands on learning experiences to excite and engage our Can Kidz.

Our Can Kidz are able to use the devices to record their thinking and learning process through photos, video, oral retellings as well as 'traditional' methods of recording learning. The outcomes are shared through a variety of apps through Showbie which is accessible here at school and also viewable at home for all parents/caregivers.

Our Learning Facilitators and Can Kidz are becoming true Digital Citizens and 21st Century Learners!


Expert Reviewer Comments - Learning & Teaching - Maurice Rehu (Principal - Irongate School)

‘From my conversations and discussions with the students, the iPads have had a huge impact on how motivated the students are to be learning at school. All the students in the group love working on the iPad to share their ideas, experiences, learning and understandings. It was evident by the way the students were able to articulate their thinking. All students shared evidence to highlight high levels of engagement in learning at Henry Hill School.

All teachers identified the shift in their teaching practice and how they have had to change the way they teach to meet the learning needs of the students. I commented on how all the teachers sounded like PRTs (Beginning Teachers) because of the enthusiasm, excitement and passion that oozed from each of the staff members as they shared their journey. This is not always evident in schools or in teachers when they are sharing a schoolwide programme.

The team are sharing and collaborating to get the best results for all students.’


Expert Reviewer Comments - Infrastructure - Leon Symes (Simplistic Advanced Solutions)

‘Henry Hill School is continuing to implement the required infrastructure components to enable the school to be in a position to provide an environment where 21st Century Learners have access to the tools and information for modern learning. This has ensured that the infrastructure is at or above Ministry guidelines so that every child has equal access to a device that will allow them to participate in modern teaching practices.

I have no doubt the school has been transformed from a follower of traditional technology trends to be in a position that it is now up with and in some instances the leading practitioner in the use of modern learning devices.’ 


Expert Reviewer Comments - Internet Privacy & Safety - Sean Lyons (NetSafe NZ)

‘Henry Hill School has a positive attitude towards technology and its use in a learning context. It is clear that at both a management and staff level there is a shared belief of the way in which technology can be used as a ‘lever’ to help facilitate better learning.

There is a strong digital citizenship culture at the school, and this will provide a sound basis for young people to learn, both about and through digital technologies.

A key premise of Digital citizenship from our perspective is the shift in thinking from a traditional ‘e-safety- approach which privileges the protection of students, to an approach that emphasizes the promotion of safe and responsible behavior and the management of the inevitable challenges online. In short, it is a shift from protection to preparation.

In my opinion , Henry Hill School has embraced this thinking, and it is manifest in its approach to online safety.’



Reporting To Parents/Caregivers

School newsletters are published each Friday and are emailed, added to this website, and also posted on our school's Facebook page.We still publish hardcopy versions for families with no internet connectivity. 

We report in writing to parents/caregivers twice a year (Mid-Year/End of Term 4). We have #CanCommunity Learning days each term plus plenty of other opportunities to come in and get involved. We also update our Facebook page on a daily basis to ensure the community are constantly updated on what is happening at Henry Hill School.



We love our Sport here and have a very proud tradition of success across a range of sports.

Few schools can say they have an All Black as a former student, BUT we've had two! (As well as a number of other International sports stars!)

In our team of adults we have former international and provincial sport stars and coaches and have Can Kidz that represent Hawkes Bay in various sporting codes. We have termly sports exchanges with local schools, enter local tournaments and take part in after school sport. 

We hold annual Tribal Warfare Challenges in the following: Swimming (Term 1), Can Kidz Fun Run (Term 3), Athletics (Term 4)

Here are the sports codes we enter competitive teams into:

Term 2: Ripper Rugby, Basketball (approx $35 per player) & Netball (between $15 - $30 per player dependent on year level)

Term 3: Soccer, Netball, Rugby (All at no cost)

Term 4: Tee-Ball & Softball (All at no cost)


Te Reo Maori

We are incredibly fortunate to have a number of fluent speakers of Te Reo Maori on our team of adults here.

We are even more fortunate to have a Classroom Release Teacher who is fluent in Te Reo Maori and can also play the guitar! Each class has 2x sessions each term with Mr Whitlow and may also have him as a reliever from time to time too.

Learning Languages is one of the Learning Areas of the New Zealand Curriculum. For some of our Can Kidz they have the opportunity to help their peers as they already have a strong base knowledge of Te Reo Maori.

Some of our Can Kidz can now speak two languages, and several are even multi-lingual!



Home & School Connection / Home Learning

We actively look for opportunities to involve and encourage our families in their children's learning.

Our families are involved in fundraising, supporting school extra curricular activities and are a part of our school community.

Drop in and see our school in action, speak to the Lead Facilitator, visit our Learning Facilitators in class, or better yet talk to our best advertisements for our amazing school: our Can Kidz!

Our approach to Home Learning in is based around getting our families to have conversations with their children about their learning. We as a staff have discussed lots of ways you and your child can interact and discuss their learning and they are listed at the bottom of the page.

From time to time we will be sending research work and activities home that are hands-on based and relate to what we are covering in class.

If your child requires extra reading or extra maths to catch them up, each Learning Facilitator will make sure it comes home and we can support you in using the resources with your children.

Year 3-6 classes use the app 'Showbie' which you can view on any type of mobile device (that can access the internet). The learning your child completes will be stored here so this can help form the basis of your discussions at home. If you do not have access to the internet at home you are more than welcome to come into school, and your child's Learning Facilitator will explain the process to you in person. 

Here are some ways you can engage your child in learning at home:

 Sharing Showbie learning


 Baking, cooking – measuring ingredients


 Writing a shopping list - help find things in the supermarket


 Talking about numbers - prices, number of objects etc


 Put a suggestion jar in the kitchen


 Read TV guides/newspapers - talk about timetables


 Calendars - locate family birthdays, public holidays, and special events


 Go to the library


 Play eye-spy / 20 questions


 Word games - say a word that starts with the last sound in the word I say (choose a topic e.g. food - mood, cars, guitars, etc)


 Label things around the house


 Look at our school Facebook page together


 Share the Newsletter each week


 Board games


 Card games activities


 Dice games


 Time reading clocks digital/analogue, timetables, calendars


 Conversations around everyday activities around home- colours, numbers etc


 Reading to, with and together


 Building with Lego


 Gardening


 Washing cars, jobs around home


 Going places-parks etc


 Newspapers discussion or watch the News on TV: Talk about current events,


 Jigsaw puzzles


 Building/construction in paper card, newspaper


 Swimming together


 Fix an old bike up


 Build a hut


 Find and share apps or websites for learning


 Turn the TV off, put the devices away and just sit and chat with your children!


As you can see there are lots of fun ways to interact and help your children consolidate their school learning at home.