Fairlie School - 18/01/2018

School Context

Fairlie Primary School is a Years 1 to 6 rural school in the Mackenzie Country of South Canterbury. It has a roll of 94 children.

The school’s vision is for children to be equipped to follow “pathways to learning and success”. The Mackenzie Kid qualities are to be respectful, confident, caring and resilient.

The school aims include:

  • continuous academic improvement for all learners

  • innovative and collaborative learning and teaching supported by digital literacy

  • effective relationships and partnerships within the school and across the wider community

  • effective and strategic governance.

Since the 2014 ERO review, the school has experienced a period of uncertainty. The previous board informed the Ministry of Education (MoE) of concerns relating to leadership, financial management, communication, and student achievement.

In May 2016, the MoE arranged for an external review of these concerns by an experienced commissioner. Following the board’s resignation, the MoE appointed the Commissioner to govern the school and address the concerns. The commissioner sought feedback from staff and community and advice and guidance from a financial advisor.

A new, experienced principal was appointed in September 2016. More recently, two new teachers have been employed. The principal worked closely with the commissioner and staff to develop systems and processes to support the school’s operation. These are now in place.

A new board was elected in September 2017. The formal training of the board by a New Zealand School Trustees’ Association representative, completed the commissioner’s role in the school.

Areas for improvement outlined in the 2014 ERO report have been addressed. These include improved systems in assessment, evaluation of teaching and appraisal.

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

  • progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics

  • positive relationships and attitudes that promote wellbeing for all

  • community involvement that further promote children’s learning.

The school is in the Mackenzie Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is effectively achieving positive outcomes for most children.

Children are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The school has identified disparity in reading, writing and mathematics for a few Māori children. The majority of Māori children are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The majority of children, including Māori children are making accelerated progress towards the National Standards. Children with additional learning needs are well supported through targeted planning and support.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

The school has a number of processes and practices in place to effectively enable achievement of equity and excellence. These relate particularly to children’s wellbeing, inclusion, and engagement in learning.

The board and staff consistently maintain high expectations for learning and behaviour. Learning support programmes for individual children are in place and are greatly enhanced by the expert advice and guidance of specialist staff. Parental support and real-time online feedback, further encourage children’s engagement in learning.

Children appreciate their unique environment and the variety of learning opportunities it provides. Teachers effectively use different contexts to make learning more meaningful and to extend children’s knowledge about the wider world. Children are well supported to achieve success through their interests and abilities. They have access to the full curriculum and are able to follow their interests through music, sport, art, enviro studies and science. The science programme is further enriched by the expert knowledge of a specialist science teacher. Many children are able to talk about their learning and what is helping them learn.

Teachers are highly focused on improving their teaching skills and knowledge to achieve equity and excellence for all children. Teachers have effectively used their professional development in writing and reading to further strengthen their capability. They regularly identify the best practice that has supported targeted children to achieve accelerated progress. Teachers are collectively building their confidence in the use of te reo and tikanga Māori. Children are actively learning about their special place through the words of the haka they share with their secondary school. Regular consultation with parents of Māori children and support from the Māori community enhance the school’s bicultural programme.

The board and staff have established positive relationships with the school community. School leaders actively seek community input when making decisions about various aspects of the school’s operation. The school and community have a shared understanding of the school’s values and strongly support children to acquire and enact the qualities of the Mackenzie Kid.

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

A number of the school’s processes and practices have been reviewed to increase their effectiveness in achieving equity and excellence. Leaders and teachers need to:

  • further strengthen internal evaluation that promotes collective capacity and promotes improvement

  • ensure processes and practices are well embedded and understood by all staff.

Leaders and teachers need to improve aspects of teaching and learning. This includes:

  • strengthening appraisal by increasing inquiry practices that build and sustains improvement and innovation

  • incorporating Māori aspects into the school’s documents to better represent what is happening in practice.

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.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • focusing on children’s wellbeing, inclusion and engagement in learning

  • using the children’s unique environment to enhance their learning about the wider world

  • making good use of relevant professional development to sustain teachers’ best practice

  • the positive relationships that exist between the school and community.

Next steps

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

  • establishing high quality evaluation at all levels of the school’s operation

  • making aspects of appraisal and internal evaluation more evaluative

  • consolidating and embedding new systems and processes.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

18 January 2018

About the school


Fairlie, South Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 48

Boys 46

Ethnic composition

Māori 15

Pākehā 74

Asian 1

Other 4

Review team on site

October/November 2017

Date of this report

18 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2014

Education Review June 2011

Education Review May 2008