Fairfield Primary School - 27/09/2013

1 Context

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

Fairfield Primary School provides education for students in Years 1 to 6 and is situated in Fairfield, which is a north eastern suburb of Hamilton. Of the 306 students on the roll, 68% are of Māori descent. There are 39 Tongan students and 11 students from other Pacific nations. Seventeen students have Asian or African heritages.

Māori students come from urban families who affiliate to a number of iwi. Māori are represented as members of the board of trustees, the teaching team and support staff. Tongan families have strong connections with their local community and a Tongan staff member is empowering families to become partners in their students’ learning. The school has established positive relationships with local early childhood services, including those with majority Māori and Pacific rolls. There are close links with a number of community groups and agencies. Most students transition to nearby Fairfield Intermediate School.

The “Fairfield Learner” is defined as a student who takes pride in his or her culture, is a capable communicator, a resilient team player and a respectful, motivated learner. These school-wide values are actively promoted in all classes and regularly reviewed to ensure that they reflect community priorities. The senior leadership team and staff have established a welcoming, inclusive school culture where every learner is valued and there is a focus on success for all. Students’ health and well being is emphasised as a foundation for successful learning. There is a strong emphasis on engaging families as partners in their own children’s learning.

Fairfield Primary School has a positive reporting history with ERO. The 2010 ERO review identified the following areas of good performance:

  • Fairfield learners were experiencing success and progress in reading and mathematics due to targeted teaching and effective support programmes
  • school personnel were engaging parents and whānau through a range of strategies
  • the concept of the Fairfield Learner underpinned student identity, home-school engagement and key values and competencies to support life-long learning
  • a shared leadership structure contributed to effective school management and direction
  • the collaboratively designed curriculum was relevant to Fairfield learners
  • there were high levels of student engagement and students were becoming confident in applying strategies to improve their learning
  • governance was effective and trustees had established working relationships with many members of the community.

This ERO review finds that these positive features are continuing and clearly evident.

The 2010 ERO review also identified the need to strengthen appraisal processes to improve the consistency of teaching and learning across the school. The board and senior leadership team have responded positively to this development area.

2 Learning

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

Assessment information is used very effectively to identify students’ learning needs and provide targeted teaching to accelerate progress and achievement within classroom programmes and withdrawal groups.

Senior leaders use achievement data to establish priorities for staff professional development and curriculum resources, and to review the effectiveness of teaching and learning programmes. All staff have a strong focus on accelerating student progress, especially for those who enter school with levels of understanding in literacy and mathematics that are well below expectations. School records demonstrate that many students make significant progress in reading, writing and mathematics as they move through the school. At the end of 2012, many Year 6 students from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds were generally at or above National Standards in these subjects.

Raising student achievement levels is a major focus of teaching and learning. The wide range of interventions to support students with learning needs is strategically considered and well resourced. Teachers frequently monitor and report on students’ progress. They are increasingly making good use of achievement information to reflect on and improve teaching practice. School leaders recognise the need to continue to develop processes for identifying and monitoring students with special abilities and talents.

Current professional development is providing teachers with further strategies to promote progress for English language learners. As students grow in confidence, senior leaders agree that there is a need to further develop teaching strategies that promote students’ knowledge and self management of their personal progress and achievement.

The board is very well informed about students’ progress and achievement throughout the year. This information is used to guide decisions about staffing, resources and strategic planning.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum is underpinned by the school’s values. There is a significant emphasis on literacy and mathematics and broad coverage of other learning areas, where teachers regularly respond to students’ interests and needs.

Teachers have high expectations for learning and behaviour. Many high-quality teaching practices are underpinned by positive relationships between students and teachers that foster reflective thinking and oral language development. Teachers are encouraged to continually reflect on their strategies for promoting achievement. They provide students with specific oral and written feedback and next steps about their learning. Stimulating classroom displays make learning visible to students and parents. Students’ successes are celebrated. ERO and school leaders agree that next steps are to continue revising and documenting the school’s agreed curriculum.

Teachers emphasise positive guidance to build students’ self esteem as confident, capable learners. Students are well engaged in meaningful learning experiences and there is a purposeful, positive tone throughout the school.

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

The school is effectively promoting educational success for Māori. In this school, strong leadership and collaborative teaching is supported by effective governance and this is having a positive impact on Māori student achievement. Many people contribute to supporting Māori students and they benefit from a holistic approach to teaching and learning. Whakawhanaungatanga processes are continually evident in a whānau like school culture that provides students with a strong sense of identity and belonging.

Strong engagement and contribution from whānau, service providers and communities assist Māori students to excel and reach their full potential. Staff work collaboratively to strengthen the values, identity and culture of Māori students. School records show that Māori students make accelerated progress as they move through the school. Bicultural perspectives are reflected in classroom programmes. Waiata and language on wall displays highlight some of the elements required to promote better understandings and positive relationships amongst all students and teachers.

Māori competencies are included in the performance management process for staff. In order to sustain change an acknowledged next step is to further strengthen all teachers’ knowledge and inclusion of Māori culture and language in classroom programmes. Working together, teachers have the opportunity to help Māori students grow into confident and successful learners.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance because of the following positive factors:

  • Governance is effective. Trustees are representative of the diverse community and knowledgeable about their roles and responsibilities.
  • The school’s strategic direction is very clear and provides a sound basis for improvement and self review.
  • The experienced principal is providing highly effective professional leadership that is collaborative and improvement focused. She is well supported by the senior leadership team who bring a range of useful skills to their positions. There is a focus on continually developing leadership capability .
  • Professional learning is continually promoted within a supportive staff culture.
  • Pastoral care is a strength of the school. This includes support for transition from early childhood services and to the local intermediate school.
  • Parents are regularly consulted and included in discussions about their students’ learning.

There is a school-wide culture of rigorous and critical self review. These processes are well understood and effectively used to inform board planning processes and improve student outcomes. Analysis of data informs decisions about priorities for resource allocation, programme implementation and evaluation and staff professional development. In-depth longer term reviews identify important issues that affect the school as a whole and its community. Areas for development in this review were already recognised by the senior leadership team and staff.

Next step

Trustees understand that annual achievement targets should more specifically focus on groups of students who are at risk of underachieving. This is likely to better reflect the board’s already generous resourcing for these priority learners.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

27 September 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 55%

Girls 45%

Ethnic composition



NZ European/Pākehā


Other Pacific

Other ethnic groups







Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

27 September 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2010

June 2007

June 2004