Fairfield School (Dunedin)

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School Context

Fairfield School is a Year 1 to 8 primary school with a roll of 461 students.

The values of respect, responsibility and resilience underpin its vision of ‘independence through responsibility’ and commitment to using these values to enhance the school’s learning community. The school’s strategic goals are to raise achievement in mathematics, use assessment data to facilitate learning for all students, and promote a safe and inclusive environment that maximises learning.

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

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the school curriculum expectations
  • achievement in the key competencies and other learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • accelerated progress in 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 is effective in achieving positive outcomes for most students in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement information over the last three years shows an upward trend in outcomes for most students in these areas.

There are equitable outcomes for Māori students in writing and mathematics. The school has been effective in reducing disparity of outcomes for boys in reading, and for boys and Māori in mathematics.

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

The school is effective in accelerating the progress of most students who are achieving below or well below school expectations. School information over the last three years shows that greater proportions of all students achieve at or above school curriculum expectations.

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?

A broad, rich, localised curriculum provides students with interesting learning opportunities in and beyond the school. The curriculum is coherent and well organised. The learning environments recognise the collaborative and social nature of learning. These are managed in ways that support students’ participation, engagement and agency in learning. School values are well integrated throughout the curriculum. Students know and show the school values in their learning. They learn in an inclusive, positive and supportive environment that promotes their learning and wellbeing.

Leaders have introduced effective systems to identify and monitor the progress and achievement of all students. A wide range of information on individual children is clearly documented. Teachers track, monitor and have planned actions to meet the needs of students who are identified as below/well below school expectations.

Students with additional needs are well supported through targeted planning and a wrap around approach to promote their success. These systems, processes and practices contribute to ongoing improvement in teaching and learning.

The principal and leaders foster strong collaborative relationships across the school so that everyone feels valued. The school has strong reciprocal relationships with its community. Student and whānau voice are regularly sought, valued and used to inform ongoing improvement. These practices enhance the positive environment for teaching and learning.

The board and principal support teachers to grow their professional capability as teachers. Strategically planned professional learning has strengthened the collective capacity of the staff. Te reo and tikanga Māori are valued in the school environment. Leadership in this area ensures that staff benefit from well planned, regular opportunities to build their culturally responsive practices, and students have access to a rich bicultural curriculum.

Staff and students are encouraged and supported to develop their leadership skills. There is a useful appraisal system that is based on ongoing inquiry into effective teacher practice.

The board receives regular reports on achievement and curriculum. They use this information to make resourcing decisions clearly focused on improving outcomes for all students.

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

ERO and the school agree that trustees, leaders and teachers need to continue to:

  • build the rigour of internal evaluation by strengthening the analysis of school-wide data

  • refine reporting to include consistent judgements in relation to the appropriateness of the amount of progress students are making in all target groups.

These developments will enable leaders and teachers to clearly identify the teaching practices that are most effective in raising achievement.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Fairfield School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • strong collaborative relationships at all levels of the school that make staff, students and the community feel valued

  • a broad, localised curriculum that provides students with rich learning opportunities in and beyond the school

  • values and vision that promote self-regulated learning strategies that are increasingly enabling students to be independent learners

  • systems and practices that supports teachers’ professional growth.

Next steps

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

  • building the rigour of internal evaluation by strengthening the analysis of school-wide data to inform ongoing improvement.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

1 November 2019

About the school

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3736

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

461

Gender composition

Boys 52%, Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 15%

NZ European/Pākehā 73%

Asian 5%

Other 7%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

September 2019

Date of this report

1 November 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review April 2015

Education Review May 2010

Education Review April 2004

Findings

Most students achieve well against the National Standards in reading, mathematics and writing. The values of responsibility, respect, and resilience support students well. Students interact positively across the year levels. They benefit from very good teaching and enjoy interesting experiences to support and enrich their learning. The school has strong professional leadership.

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

1 Context

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

After a period of growth the school roll has stabilised just below 400. While the numbers are reasonably large, students know each other well, interact positively and support each other across the range of ages. Students make effective use of the variety of spaces on large grounds to enjoy break time. They also make good use of the outdoor spaces, including the school swimming pool, for learning.

A key feature of this school is the sense of it being the students’ own place, where they have a sense of belonging and of community. Students appreciate the many opportunities they have to show leadership, particularly in the senior school. Students show very high levels of participation in sporting and cultural activities.

The school is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of students’ cultural backgrounds. Teachers know the students and their families well, individualising their teaching approaches to suit each child. They value and celebrate students’ individual achievements and successes.

Teachers are using learning spaces to teach in new and different ways, responding to the challenge of increasingly modern learning environments to make teaching and learning work well for students. The planned small class sizes in the junior school mean these teachers can give younger students more individual support in their early stages.

The parents are well linked to what is happening at the school through a range of social media. Members of the wider community are involved in the school. Some volunteer their time to work with individual children and share expertise.

The school made very good progress in addressing the areas identified for review and development in the 2010 ERO report. These were to make better use of student achievement information and strengthen the performance management system for staff members.

2 Learning

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

Achievement information is used well at all levels of the school to help students achieve well or make accelerated progress where this is necessary.

Achievement information shows that students mostly achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, mathematics and writing. Achievement in reading has exceeded the national goal of having 85% of students reading at or above the National Standard. Achievement in writing is lower. Targets have been set in this area. School leaders place extra resources in this area and require staff to work in a focused way to bring about improvements.

Students who need extra help with various aspects of their learning are well monitored and supported by their classroom teacher. Teachers plan specifically for each at-risk student’s needs.

Students know what they need to learn and what they need to do to achieve their goals. Students set useful goals for reading, writing, mathematics, and for positive approaches to learning. They have regular discussions with teachers about their progress towards achieving goals and to set new goals. They often lead learning conversations with their parents at 3-way interviews.

Students benefit from the many opportunities to reflect on their own learning and to assess the learning of their peers.

Students told ERO that they really enjoy being at Fairfield School and feel safe. They appreciate the opportunities to showcase their talents and achievements in assemblies. They share their opinions about aspects of their learning and know that teachers respond appropriately.

Teachers make effective use of a new electronic system to gather and manage learning information. They monitor students’ achievement and progress to determine their learning needs and adapt teaching to make the greatest impact. Leaders of each of the school’s three teaching teams work with teachers to identify how well strategies are working and plan next steps for continuous improvement.

While trustees receive reports about the impact additional programmes have on progress against the annual achievement targets, these reports would be strengthened by also including the impact targeted classroom teaching is having, alongside the additional intervention programmes, in raising achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports students’ wellbeing and learning.

School leaders and teachers have placed a strong focus on promoting the school’s values, responsibility, respect, and resilience, and on students’ wellbeing. The values have been clarified in consultation with parents and are well known and well used by staff and students.

Students enjoy a wide range of interesting, engaging, relevant experiences to support and enrich their learning. These experiences are designed to help students develop positive attitudes and experience success. Teachers focus on developing and extending children’s interests. These learning experiences include purposeful trips/camps at several year levels. The school provides specialist teaching for music and physical education, supporting students’ sporting and cultural endeavour. High numbers of students learn musical instruments.

There are smooth progressions for students into and through the school. Senior students act as buddies to support the learning of junior students. Teachers carefully consider the placement of individual children into classes. They want students to feel a welcoming sense of belonging within the school community.

Students benefit from very good-quality teaching. Teachers have developed a well-considered understanding of high expectations for teaching quality. They receive effective guidance for all aspects of teaching. They work collaboratively on aspects of their planning. School leaders effectively guide and support staff to meet their high expectations and find ways to improve.

Students are well supported by the priority teachers place on literacy and mathematics while maintaining the breadth of the curriculum. Teachers integrate ICT purposefully into all learning. Students can and do use modern technologies as a natural part of the way they learn. The school sees this as a way to engage students more effectively in their writing, with the aim of helping to achieve the 2015 writing targets.

Teachers support each learner to know about their learning goals and what they need to do to achieve these goals. Students confidently talk about their learning and know how to take their share of responsibility for making suitable progress. Teachers make the learning at just the right level of challenge for students.

The principal and teachers work to establish purposeful partnerships with families to support students’ learning and engagement. A summer reading programme is a current example of a strategy for engaging students and their parents in an effective support programme. The board funds some extra interventions to support targeted students to make accelerated progress.

Student achievement in each curriculum area, in addition to reading, writing and mathematics, is reported to the board over time. Reports include how well students are achieving, what is going well and what needs to be improved.

The next step is for the planned reviews of major aspects of the curriculum to be more comprehensive with a wider scope than was evident in some past reviews.

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

The school effectively promotes a supportive learning environment for Māori students.

Overall, Māori students achieve well at the school. An increasing number of students confidently identify as Māori. Teachers get to know Māori students and their families as they do for all.

A lead teacher is responsible for leading bicultural initiatives in the school and increasing success for Māori students. An initiative in 2015 is to identify those Māori students who need to make accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers regularly monitor how well students are progressing and how well teachers’ efforts are supporting their plans for accelerated progress.

The school is placing a greater emphasis on providing opportunities for all students to learn and engage in Māori cultural activities. Teachers are integrating aspects of Māori language and culture in their class programmes. Leaders want all students to benefit from this.

There is a school-wide goal to support Māori learners to achieve personal excellence by increasing the emphasis on kapa haka participation and marae visits for senior students.

The next steps identified by school leaders include to:

  • explore further the reasons behind any achievement that is below expectation
  • extend the ways they consult with Māori families about the aspirations they have for their children’s learning
  • make the valuing of Māori culture and language a fuller part of the daily life of the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Professional leadership is strong. The principal helps develop the capacity of staff to lead and focus on continuous improvement. The principal and other school leaders promote a strong learning culture amongst staff.

Staff members work well in a culture of collaboration, consultation and shared leadership. They are well supported by opportunities for professional learning and development (PLD) and by school leaders. Their individual strengths and teaching approaches are recognised and encouraged. A recently strengthened appraisal process is under way. The school is part of a cluster working with other schools to share ideas and improve teaching practice.

Parents’ and students’ opinions on a range of topics are gathered and responded to. The board and principal have a collaborative approach to setting the school’s strategic direction.

Trustees have useful and well-documented processes for governance. They receive reports on how well the annual plan is being implemented. The board funds PLD with the expectation that it will positively impact on identified areas of need and that this impact will be reported back to trustees.

The next steps include ensuring that:

  • reports to the board about students’ learning and wellbeing are more consistently evaluative
  • the outcomes of this evaluative reporting are clearly recorded in board minutes.

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

Most students achieve well against the National Standards in reading, mathematics and writing. The values of responsibility, respect, and resilience support students well. Students interact positively across the year levels. They benefit from very good teaching and enjoy interesting experiences to support and enrich their learning. The school has strong professional leadership.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

21 April 2015

About the School

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3736

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

365

Gender composition

Male 54%

Female 46%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

85%

12%

2%

1%

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

21 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

December 2006

April 2004