Fairfield College - 19/08/2019

School Context

Fairfield College, located in Hamilton City, provides co-educational education for students in Years 9 to 13. The school’s roll of 644, which includes 363 students of Māori descent, has decreased since the last ERO review in 2015.

In 2018 there was a major restructuring of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). The school no longer offers Year 11 students Level 1 NCEA. Level 2 NCEA has become a two-tier qualification for Year 11 and 12 students. There was also a significant timetable change moving to three 90 minute teaching periods each day.

Three deputy principals have been appointed to the senior leadership team since the 2015 ERO review.

The school’s mission statement ‘Committed to quality education and personal excellence’ is supported by the Whakatauki: I taku puranga hau; taku tuumanako - While I breathe; I hope. Values of respect, responsibility and personal excellence. The school promotes high expectations, Treaty of Waitangi, cultural diversity, inclusion, community engagement and equity.

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

  • NCEA achievement
  • student leavers destination data.

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?

Fairfield College is yet to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all of its students.

The school’s 2018 NCEA enrolment based data shows that the majority of students gained NCEA Level 2 and NCEA Level 3. Less than half of Māori students gained Level 2 with the majority of Māori students gaining Level 3.

There was significant improvement in the achievement for Māori learners at Level 3 compared to 2016 and 2017. Māori students are now achieving at comparable levels to their Pākehā peers at NCEA Level 3.

A small number of students gained University Entrance in 2018. There has been a consistent level of NCEA Merit and Excellence endorsements for 2017 and 2018.

Patterns of NCEA achievement over the last 3 years indicates significant disparity remains between Māori and Pākehā achievement at NCEA Level 2. This pattern of disparity is also evident for Pacific students in comparison to their Pākehā peers at Level 2 and Level 3. However, from 2016 to 2017 Pacific student’s levels of achievement have shown significant improvement at Level 2 and Level 3 NCEA.

Achievement data from 2016-2017 indicates that males and females are achieving at a comparable level for NCEA Level 2 and NCEA Level 3. However, in 2018 there was significant disparity at Level 2 NCEA where females achieved at higher levels than their male peers. Females have consistently outperformed males in University Entrance over time.

The school has collated detailed school leaver data for 2017 for those students who left without NCEA Level 2. It is able to show that almost all students who completed their schooling at Fairfield College went on to further education or employment.

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

The school is able to show accelerated progress for some students. Collated and analysed achievement data from 2015 - 2018 shows that the large majority of those at-risk students who entered the school at Year 9 and remained at the school for four years made accelerated progress. Of this group all Māori and Pacific students made accelerated progress and gained Level 2 NCEA.

Literacy and numeracy data shows that some students make accelerated progress from Year 9 to Year 10 from 2017 to 2018.

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 provides effective vocational and academic pathways for students. There has been a significant focus on developing robust systems to support students as they progress through the school. These genuine pathways provide opportunities for students to gain experience in a variety of vocational settings which support and contribute to students’ academic achievement in NCEA. Ongoing tracking of achievement by senior and middle leaders has led to improved academic, tertiary study and employment outcomes for students.

Community collaborations enrich curriculum opportunities. The school has developed meaningful partnerships with iwi, schools, businesses and community organisations. Senior leaders are proactive in establishing and building these key relationships. Genuine partnership where programs are designed and implemented in a collaborative way provide contextualised learning for students. Established reciprocal relationships with iwi support bi-cultural practices and provide the foundation for the school to acknowledge and celebrate cultural diversity. Transition into school has been strengthened. Links with contributing schools have seen the development of improved use of achievement data and use of common assessment tools.

Caring, inclusive learning environments support students’ wellbeing and sense of belonging. The school has prioritised removing barriers to learning. Students requiring support for their learning are clearly identified and well-catered for through a range of support programmes. Systemic and procedural changes to learning support have seen improved integration and inclusion for their students throughout the school. The school’s values are well known and support the inclusive kaupapa that is evident across all areas of the school. Caring relationships exist between students and teachers and creates a positive tone in classrooms and supports the inclusive culture.

Leaders works collaboratively to review and improve systems and processes to support positive student outcomes. They have developed and implemented a range of organisational strategies that are focused on a holistic approach to student success. More robust tracking of senior students’ achievement results has led to more individualised responses to students’ needs. Leaders have undertaken some aspects of self review and are now ready to fully evaluate recent significant changes in curriculum structure. Enhanced communication has led to improved pastoral care systems and wellbeing outcomes. Trustees are involved in making strategic decisions based on information from a range of sources and have been able to support the school through sound financial resourcing practices.

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

Leaders need to continue to build teacher capability. Priority should be given to:

  • consistent use of formative assessment practices to develop greater student agency

  • differentiation for targeted teaching to accelerate learning of at-risk students.

Priority should also be given to reviewing:

  • aspects of the curriculum to strengthen student engagement and respond more effectively to student learning needs

  • the appraisal process to greater inform changes to teacher practice including teachers inquiring in to their practice to better support at risk learners.

3 Other Matters

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to theEducation (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

4 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 Children’s Act 2014.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Fairfield College’sperformance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

6 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • effective pathways through the senior school that provide a range of successful outcomes for students
  • an inclusive learning culture that builds a sense of belonging
  • effective leadership that is focused on enhancing systems and processes to better respond to the needs of students.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to build teacher capability to more effectively target and accelerate student achievement
  • evaluating the curriculum to more consistently engage students in their learning.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

19 August 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 48% Male 52%

Ethnic composition

Māori 57%
NZ European/Pākehā 27%
Pacific 8%
Asian 6%
Other 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

19 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2015
Special Review June 2014
Education Review August 2011