Fairfield College - 14/12/2015

Findings

Fairfield College has made considerable progress since the 2014 ERO review. Strong partnerships have been developed with local tertiary institutions and businesses to provide extended learning pathways for students. Trustees, school leaders and teachers have a clear focus on school improvement and raising levels of student achievement.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Fairfield College, located in Hamilton city, provides education for students in Years 9 to 13. The school’s roll of 716, includes 335 students of Māori descent.

The June 2014 ERO report identified that the school had made significant progress over the previous two years in strengthening governance practices, establishing professional trust among the teaching team, and implementing initiatives to improve the quality of teaching practice. It identified a need for the board of trustees and school leaders to:

  • implement processes to further strengthen the quality of teaching practice
  • continue to develop meaningful partnerships with parents, whānau and the wider community
  • more effectively use student achievement information to promote better learning outcomes for students.

As identified in the 2014 ERO report a significant challenge for the board, leaders and teachers was to raise achievement levels within the school, in particular the achievement of Māori students.

Since the 2014 ERO review, new deputy and assistant principals have been appointed to the leadership team. Along with the existing principal and deputy principal they have a clear focus on raising student achievement. A new board of trustees' chairperson has been appointed.

The board of trustees, school leaders and staff have a strong commitment to supporting all students to achieve personal success and develop meaningful pathways for future learning and employment.

The school has implemented several initiatives to improve student engagement and achievement. The school’s 2014 and 2015 data indicates significant improvement in achievement particularly for Māori students.

Throughout this longitudinal review process ERO observed high levels of student engagement in calm and settled learning environments.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The following priority areas for review and development were agreed between ERO and the Fairfield College board of trustees:

  • strengthening the quality of teaching practice
  • further developing meaningful partnerships with parents, whānau and the wider community
  • strengthening the use of student achievement information to promote improved outcomes for students.

Progress

School leaders have implemented several initiatives to further build teachers’ professional capability. Participation in the Ministry of Education funded professional learning programme Kia Eke Panuku, including the board of trustees funding of internal professional learning programmes, have assisted teachers to more effectively respond to the learning needs of Māori students. Clear expectations have been established for effective teaching practice at Fairfield College. Teachers have benefited from ongoing support and guidance for incorporating literacy learning strategies in all curriculum areas, particularly at Years 9 and 10.

School leaders have developed a comprehensive and useful teacher appraisal process. Priority should now be given to fully implementing and embedding this process. Particular attention should be given to the provision of regular and robust feedback to teachers about the effectiveness of their practice, and aligning this to systems that promote teachers’ ongoing reflection about the impact of their teaching. School leaders should also review the current appraisal process to ensure that it meets the new endorsement requirements of the Education Council.

ERO observed teachers effectively engaging students in meaningful learning. Teachers promote positive relationships with students, and make good use of real life contexts that engage students in learning. Some teachers implement effective strategies that are responsive to students’ learning successes and next steps. For other teachers the use of these strategies is in the early stages of implementation as a regular part of their teaching practice. School leaders should continue to promote the consistent use of this effective approach school wide.

Meaningful partnerships with parents, whānau and the wider community

School leaders have made significant progress in building stronger relationships with parents, whānau and the wider community that contribute to positive learning outcomes for students. Vocational learning pathways for students have been extended through recently established partnerships between the school and local tertiary providers such as WINTEC, Te Wananga o Aotearoa and the High Wire Learning Trust. Students enjoy and benefit from shared learning opportunities provided by these organisations and the school. In 2015 most of these students have achieved or are likely to achieve success at National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) qualifications Levels 1, 2 and 3. Some of these students have also won apprenticeships and been accepted for further vocational training. Students involved in these programmes indicated to ERO the importance, value and benefit to them of this initiative.

The principal has established useful links with Ngāti Wairere and Tainui to assist ongoing school development. A current initiative is the refurbishment of the school’s wharenui and the development of a community environmental sustainability project to be based on the school’s site.

The school reports increased participation of whānau and parents at school events and activities. This has included the implementation of regular celebrations of students’ achievement and successes.

Useful relationships have been established with contributing primary and intermediate schools that support students’ transition to the school. There would be value in further strengthening these relationships to support a cohesive community focus on raising overall levels of student achievement.

Use of student achievement information to promote improved outcomes for students

Student achievement information is now being used more effectively to support positive learning outcomes. Effective systems have been established to track and monitor the progress of senior students undertaking national qualifications. This data is well used as a basis for ongoing mentoring programmes. Senior students and their whānau are easily able to track progress and achievement towards reaching their qualification goals using the school’s electronic record system.

School leaders have recently introduced useful systems to monitor the progress of Years 9 and 10 students in reading, writing and mathematics. Some teachers make effective use of this information to provide specific targeted learning programmes for students. Priority should now be given to extending the use of this information by students and all teachers to better support overall achievement in key aspects of literacy and mathematics. Data from 2014 to 2015 indicates that in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics many Year 9 and 10 students made good progress.

The board of trustees is well informed about school-wide student achievement. They set appropriate targets in the charter focused on raising student achievement. School leaders and trustees make good use of data to inform their decision making about resource allocations and curriculum design.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Fairfield College is well placed to continue to improve its performance because:

  • trustees, leaders and teachers have a strong commitment to embedding and extending recent successful initiatives to raise overall student achievement
  • the school has established strong and meaningful partnerships with the wider community
  • school leaders and trustees have developed useful self-review practices that support ongoing school development
  • strong pastoral care systems have been developed that support and promote student engagement, progress and achievement
  • there are increased levels of parent and whanau involvement in the school.

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.

Conclusion

Fairfield College has made considerable progress since the 2014 ERO review. Strong partnerships have been developed with local tertiary institutions and businesses to provide extended learning pathways for students. Trustees, school leaders and teachers have a clear focus on school improvement and raising levels of student achievement.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

14 December 2015

School Statistics

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

129

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

716

Gender composition

Boys 57% Girls 43%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Asian

Other

47%

38%

7%

5%

3%

Special Features

Active Learning Unit

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

14 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Special Review

June 2014

August 2011

May 2010