Fairfield Primary School

Fairfield Primary School - 02/05/2018

School Context

Fairfield Primary School is situated in north-east Hamilton and provides education for students in Years 1 to 6.  Of the 386 students on the roll, 68% identify as Māori. Students of Pacific ethnicities make up 17% of the roll, with Tongan being the predominant culture in this group. The school maintains regular contact with local early childhood services and community support agencies. Most students transition to Fairfield Intermediate School. On the recommendation of the Ministry of Education, the school will implement an enrolment scheme from the beginning of Term 2, 2018 to manage the school’s growing roll. 

Since the 2013 ERO review, the principal and senior leaders have remained at the school and there have been board and staff changes. In 2018, team leaders have been appointed to lead and support each of the three teaching teams.

The school-wide curriculum has been further developed along with programmes that address the needs of children with special abilities. Teachers have engaged in professional development in cultural responsiveness, mathematics, positive guidance, literacy, oral language development and teaching as inquiry. A Ministry of Education student achievement facilitator and an external advisor have assisted in developing strategies for targeting and monitoring the achievement of at-risk learners.

The school’s vision is ‘Empowering Learners to Succeed’. The curriculum continues to be underpinned by the values of ‘The Fairfield Learner’, which are respect for people, places and property, always aiming for excellence, and resilience, interpreted as never giving up. 

The school is a member of Te Pae Here North-east Hamilton Community of LearninglKāhui Ako.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics.

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?

The school’s 2017 achievement data for all students indicates that the majority achieve at the expected level in mathematics. In writing, overall less than half are achieving at expectation for their year level. In reading, while the majority of Māori and Pākehā are achieving at expected levels, Pacific students achieved at lower levels.

There is significant disparity for Māori and Pacific students in reading and mathematics. In these curriculum areas, Māori and Pacific students are achieving less well than their Pākehā peers. In reading and writing, data indicates significant gender disparity, with girls outperforming boys. Māori are achieving at lower levels than their Pākehā peers in writing. 

Mathematics results indicate an upward trend over the last two years.  

The school’s entry data shows that many students, including those for whom English is a new language, enter with literacy and numeracy levels that are well below expectations. School-wide achievement information also shows that by the end of Year 6, a majority of students achieve at or above year-level expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. This has been a continuing trend since the previous 2013 ERO report. By the end of Year 6, 2017, there was no disparity for Māori and Pacific students’ achievement in reading and writing, but disparity for boys’ achievement remained.  

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

The school is accelerating learning for the majority of Māori, Pacific and other students who are at risk of underachieving. Assessment information shows that a majority of students, including Māori and Pacific who received targeted interventions, made accelerated learning progress in writing and mathematics by the end of 2017. A majority of Pacific and nearly half of all Māori who were at risk of underachieving made accelerated progress in reading.

The progress of English language learners and students with additional learning needs is well monitored. Accelerated progress within specialised and individual learning programmes is evident for many students.  

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’s curriculum is responsive to the diversity of its community. Teachers promote positive interactions with and among students. Culturally responsive teaching practices emphasise whanaungatanga (family-like relationships), manaakitanga (sharing and contributing), and mahi tahi (working together cooperatively). Classes are settled and students are actively engaged in meaningful learning experiences. Priority on addressing the identified learning needs of diverse groups and individuals is contributing to equitable learning opportunities for these students.

Reciprocal, learning-centred partnerships with parents/whānau are fostered. Parents and caregivers are well-informed about their students’ learning and achievement. They have many opportunities for formal and informal discussions with teachers about their children’s progress and achievement.  Teachers engage deliberately with, and inform parents and families from all ethnicities, according to their preferred method of communication. Teachers’ indicate that parents’ are committed to supporting home and school learning and this has contributed to students making accelerated progress.   

The experienced senior leadership team provides clear expectations for teaching and learning. A range of suitable assessment and moderation processes assist teachers to make reliable judgements about students’ achievement and progress. Leaders and teachers work collaboratively with staff and the board, maintaining a focus on raising achievement and the pastoral care for students and families.

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

To strengthen teaching practice to improve learning outcomes, leaders and teachers should:

  • implement a more deliberate approach to students’ self and peer assessment
  • ensure that te reo Māori is consistently integrated in class programmes.

There is a need to strengthen internal evaluation for continuous improvement. Trustees and leaders should:

  • sharpen annual targets to focus more specifically on all identified groups of students who are at risk of underachieving
  • extend teachers’ focus on accelerating progress to include all at-risk learners
  • strengthen consultation with community, staff and students about curriculum, achievement and wellbeing
  • ensure that the school continues to  formally engage with Māori parents to share information about achievement trends and patterns and gather aspirations for their students. 

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:

  • a responsive curriculum that meets the identified needs of many diverse learners.
  • strong partnerships with parents that support and enable students to experience success
  • professional leadership that is knowledgeable, reflective and collegial.

Next steps

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

  • teaching practices that strengthen students’ self-management of their learning and the school-wide use of te reo Māori
  • more consultative internal evaluation, particularly for Māori, that consistently promotes improved outcomes for at-risk learners
  • targeted planning to accelerate learning.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

2 May 2018

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing Primary (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys      52%
Girls       48%

Ethnic composition

Māori                   68%
Tongan                11%
Pākehā                 10%
Samoan                5%
Other Pacific        2%
Other groups       4%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

2 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review  September 2013
Education Review April 2010
Education Review June 2007

In May 2019 ERO published an Exemplar review

Please read it here Exemplar Review - Fairfield Primary School - Writing - May 2019

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