Sustaining success: a case study of effective practices in Fairfield high value-add schools

This case study was originally published 23 October 2017.

Image: Sustaining success case study


This case study describes how seven schools in the Fairfield Network have sustained and built on their successful educational outcomes by implementing the six effectives practices summarised in the CESE publication Six effective practices in high growth schools. The practices are:

  • high expectations
  • student engagement
  • effective teaching
  • whole-school goals
  • collaboration
  • professional learning.

How do the schools implement these practices?

Cluster 1: Quality teaching and learning

Systems & processes
Cultures & attitudes
Programs & activities
High expectations
  • High expectations are matched with high support.
  • Comprehensive student welfare and wellbeing systems.
  • Case management of individual students, quickly and discretely.
  • Structured daily routines.
  • Pleasant physical learning spaces.
  • Visibly expect success of all students.
  • Celebrate success and achievement for all students.
  • Display and promote student achievement, including with the wider community.
  • School values are clearly articulated and explicitly taught.
  • Social skills taught and reinforced regularly.
  • Behaviour management programs consistent across the school.
  • Additional academic support programs available to anyone who needs them.
Student engagement
  • Develop a strong understanding of students’ cultures and backgrounds.
  • Develop connections in the broader community to provide post-school opportunities and pathways for students.
  • The key to engagement is a sense of belonging.
  • Flip disadvantage by focusing on helping others and taking a global perspective.
  • Build positive relationships and rapport between teachers and students.
  • Offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and programs to cater to diverse student interests.
  • School has to have ‘something for everyone’ – academic and/or extra-curricular – to sustain engagement.
Effective teaching
  • Combination of both explicit and integrated approaches to teaching literacy.
  • Key staff take leadership of numeracy programming.
  • Data used to identify student gaps in numeracy skills and knowledge.
  • Additional teachers and School Learning Support Officers (SLSOs) to tutor students to ‘fill in gaps’ in numeracy skills and knowledge.
  • Data-informed programming and planning, strongly led by the school executive.
  • A belief that all students should be able to access the curriculum and therefore a focus on genuine curriculum differentiation.
  • Explicit lessons, including learning intentions, goals, feedback, student self-monitoring and explicit pathways to improvement (supports student engagement).
  • Explicit assessments, including rubrics, feedback, student self-monitoring and explicit pathways to improvement (supports high expectations).

Cluster 2: Positive professional culture

Systems & processes
Cultures & attitudes
Programs & activities
School goals
  • Structured systems for implementing school goals: strategy, plan, implement, evaluate, embed.
  • Leadership team has a clear division of responsibilities for leading management of change and progress towards goals.
  • Good communication systems between executive and teaching staff.

  • A culture of evaluative thinking, where program evaluation is a routine part of school life and evidence is regularly collected and reflected upon.
  • A culture of collaboration, where school goals are generated through a consultative process and seen as a team effort to implement.
  • A consistent approach to using data to drive and monitor school goals e.g. SMART, RAP.
  • Professional learning is strategically linked to school goals; ongoing TPL drives school goals from vision to implementation.
  • Common ‘core’ teaching and learning programs across grades/KLAs, updated regularly as student needs change.
  • Shared release time specifically timetabled so that teachers have dedicated time to work together within the school day.
  • Collaborative cultures develop gradually over time through collegial and supportive relationships.
  • Open-door classroom culture, regular observing of each other’s lessons.
  • Informal, reflective conversations and ongoing sharing of ideas.
  • Curriculum programming is a team activity and a collective responsibility.
  • Collaborative planning by executive underpins teacher collaboration.
  • Use of technology e.g. Google docs, Sentral, shared drives, email.
    Shared physical spaces e.g. combined staffroom.
  • Team teaching (two or more teachers working together with a single group of students).
  • Open committee structure, so all staff are welcome to participate.
  • Cross-faculty/team coordination of extracurricular activities.
Professional learning
  • TPL timetable planned yearly in advance, with flexibility to respond to emerging needs
    TPL strategically linked to PDPs and school goals.
  • Innovative timetabling across schools e.g. Twilight evenings, Super Saturdays, across schools.
  • Sustained focus on a single issue over a term.
  • TPL embedded into school routines, not an ‘extra’.
  • Open door culture of sharing resources, asking questions and seeking advice from colleagues.
  • Staff given some choice in TPL, interest drives engagement.
  • A culture of staff leading each other in TPL creates a collaborative environment and facilitates ongoing learning.
  • Balance between whole-school TPL and small-group learning.
  • High quality, external expertise brought in where appropriate.
  • Majority of TPL run in-house. This builds staff capacity and allows TPL to be highly tailored to school needs and contexts.


  • Case study

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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