Fairfax School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Fairfax School's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Fairfax School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Head of Fairfax Academy,
Deborah Bunn
Fairfax sixth form
senior leadership team
Based in Sutton Coldfield, Fairfax Academy is a large mixed
comprehensive with a strong commitment to performing
arts. The academy’s values are built around hard work and
opportunity, with the belief that every child attending Fairfax
should have the chance to thrive in an atmosphere where high
expectations meet endless possibilities. Deborah Bunn, head of
academy, talks about the “Fairfax experience”.
“Sinceritas Laboris” has been our school motto since Fairfax was founded in 1959.
The culture of building character in our students begins with this belief that there
is dignity in hard work. Our aim is to ensure that every student leaves the school
proud of the person that they are and of taking personal responsibility in delivering
excellence in everything they do. We believe our students mature into confident,
resilient, ambitious young people.
A traditional school in a modern context
At the heart of our school is our traditional house system, established when the
school was founded. It is a cornerstone of the school, ensuring our students
experience a well-rounded creative curriculum alongside their academic studies.
Participation and opportunity are the foundations upon which our school was
built, and have remained the dominant features in our academy’s offer through its
six head teachers. Our four houses Coventry, Kenilworth, Stratford and Warwick
provide each student and staff member with a sense of identity.
»Head teacher: Deborah Bunn
»Founded in 1959
»Based in Sutton Coldfield,
»Type of school: Mixed
comprehensive school
»No. of students: 1,429
»Ofsted: “Good”
Fairfax School
Whereas most school calendars are
punctuated with exam series, mock
examinations and study leave, the
calendar at Fairfax revolves around
our house events, the largest being
our annual Eisteddfod taking place
Each year our four houses compete
rigorously to become champions in a
range of activities. Our house athletics
tournament, house sporting fixtures
and annual swimming gala develop
our students’ sportsmanship and
positive attitudes to healthy lifestyles.
Our annual charity week encourages
students to think creatively in order
to raise money for their chosen
charity while reflecting on the value
of charitable giving. The highlight
of any academic year here at Fairfax
is our performing arts festival, our
Eisteddfod. On the two final nights of
our December term, the four houses
compete in choir, vocal group, spoken
word, instrumental dance and drama,
backed up by their house individual
entries in art, writing and modelling
to see who will be added to the
Eisteddfod champions board that dates
back to the first Eisteddfod in 1959.
Alongside our house calendar, Fairfax
offers students a wealth of other
opportunities through high-performing
sports teams, the Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award Scheme, dance evenings,
music evenings, The Shakespeare
Schools Festival and our bi-annual
Commitment to the
performing arts
While shrinking educational budgets
have forced other establishments
to trim their performing arts offer,
Fairfax cemented its dedication to
the arts in 2015 when we offered
our first 25 places for year 7 students
demonstrating aptitude for performing
arts. Students from all around the
region can apply for these places each
September, allowing students who
would not usually be allocated Fairfax
as a secondary school to join the
academy and take advantage of all it
has to offer.
While our house system is at the
heart of our school, we are also a
high-performing secondary school in
terms of student outcomes. Alongside
our outstanding extracurricular offer,
Fairfax runs a rigorous traditional
academic curriculum to equip our
students for the next stages of their
education, employment or training.
Our timetabled academic curriculum
comprises a broad, balanced two-year
Key Stage 3, alongside a three-year Key
Stage 4. The rationale for committing
three years to Key Stage 4 is that the
rigour of our curriculum means that
by studying for this length of time,
students have opportunity to master
the content, which optimises their
chance of success in a range of subjects
that enable them to progress onward
to a wealth of education, employment
and training opportunities.
A rigorous curriculum for all
In Key Stage 3, all students get to
study and experience their subject,
while developing a thirst for learning
in it. Our year 7 catch-up premium Warwick House
medallists at House
Athletics Day
Fairfax Academy was
founded in 1959
The culture of
character in
our students
begins with
the belief that
there is dignity
in hard work
Highlighting best practice
and a section of the pupil premium
budget are invested in an Accelerated
Progress Department where vulnerable
young people receive the same offer,
delivered with a focus on developing
core skills.
At Key Stage 4, all students study
maths, English language and literature,
religious studies and physical education,
along with either geography or history.
The majority of students study a
modern foreign language, as we believe
the rigour of these subjects offers
challenge as well as a highly respected
qualification for the competitive
modern workforce. Students have
two free option choices from a broad
range of GCSE subjects with vocational
options available. These options allow
our students to study a course suited
to them and maximises their chance
of success. All students complete two
GCSEs in science, with around 50 per
cent completing the single sciences.
We believe that by studying GCSE
science, rather than a vocational
alternative, students have greater
opportunities for career choices in their
A wealth of opportunity
At post-16, our students choose
from a breadth of subjects that run
alongside enrichment activities. We
aim to further develop the skill-set
of our sixth form students, to both
expand their experiences and prepare
them for the next steps. We encourage
opportunities in leadership through:
our senior prefect team; motivation as
house captains; collaboration through
direct entry to the Gold Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award Scheme; teamwork
through our sporting opportunities;
and, of course, participation through
taking lead roles in our Eisteddfod.
Our curriculum offers students
opportunity to thrive both academically
and personally, allowing young
people to leave us with a portfolio of
qualifications that equip them for their
place in modern society. Our Progress 8
score of 0.29 this year categorised our
school as above average and illustrates
perfectly that students attending Fairfax
leave with great outcomes as well as a
wealth of experiences.
As the founding school in Fairfax multi-
academy trust, leaders and teachers
at our academy have considered it
a privilege to work alongside their
counterparts in our family of schools.
We look forward to seeing the culture
of participation and opportunity grow
across the trust as performing arts and
sports take on an increased salience.
Next year, 2019, marks Fairfax
Academy’s 60th anniversary. We
look forward to celebrating with
our students not only all that we
have achieved to date, but also the
promising future ahead of us.
Our curriculum
offers students
opportunity to
thrive both
and personally,
young people
to leave us
with a
portfolio of
that equip
them for their
place in modern
Warwick House Choir
performing in Eisteddfod


This article was sponsored by Fairfax School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister