Email from ERO Chief Review Officer to early childhood services and schools

7 December 2015

Tēnā koutou

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. 

The end of another big year across the education system – no doubt you are looking forward to a much needed holiday! I wanted to take the opportunity to wish you all the best for the festive season and to update you on ERO’s initiatives and current priorities.

Indicators of effective practice

Thank you to all who have provided feedback on the School Evaluation Indicators – Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success.

The indicators (under trial) set the mission to achieve equity and excellence, demand a mindset shift and describe the practice that will achieve that mission. The indicators are nested within a wider discourse about how to achieve equity and excellence in our system; this is the focus for our reviews in the future. Accompanying resourcesSchool Evaluation for Improvement: Good Practice, and Effective School Evaluation: How to do and use internal evaluation, have been sent to all school principals and board chairs.

While these resources are framed up as being for ‘schools’ they set out the basis for what really matters for all children (0 to 18 years). I encourage ECE professionals and leaders to take a look; especially at the indicators of effective practice because we will, in due course, adapt these to the ECE environment, and the internal evaluation tool (Effective School Evaluation), which is universally applicable.

Accelerating student achievement: Māori

Starting Term 1 2016, ERO is reframing its reviews of primary and contributing schools with the main evaluative question being: How effectively does this school respond to Māori students whose learning and achievement needs acceleration?Once we have answered that, we will inquire about other students whose achievement requires acceleration. We will be working with principals, boards and teachers to use internal evaluation to identify which children require acceleration, what needs to happen to achieve acceleration, how to ensure teacher capability and to monitor the results of interventions so that, if necessary, alternative approaches can be found. We are starting with primary schools but will roll it out more widely over time. More detail about this initiative has already been sent to principals and board chairs. 

Reviewing our reviews 

This year we have trialled the ECE home-based care methodology, which is nearly finalised. We have also published a draft methodology for the hospital-based education and care services, and trialled the Ngā Kura ā Iwi methodology.

The Accelerating Student Achievement: Māori initiative, the indicators more broadly, and the creation and maturation of Communities of Learning (CoLs) together provide a platform for revisiting our current review methodologies. Those of you who have been around a while will know that ERO regularly reviews its review approaches. We are driven to review our approach by the belief that every child is entitled to success. ERO exists to make a difference for all kids, and in particular to ensure that the system is focused on accelerating achievement for those most at risk of not achieving.

Early discussions on the review of ERO’s approach have focused on a range of issues which need further work, but we have agreed to retain:

  • Our whakataukī: Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa – the child the heart of the matter.
  • ERO’s mission to achieve equity and excellence for all.
  • A focus on acceleration of learning as a means of achieving equity and excellence.
  • Using data to define issues, and the School Evaluation Indicators to strengthen practice that leads to achievement of valued outcomes.
  • Individual reviews, even where schools and early childhood centres are part of a CoL. ERO will be evaluating the development of CoLs though.

We will keep you informed as we develop our thinking and look forward to opportunities to engage you, family and whānau as we consider any changes.

One of our overarching objectives is to strengthen pathways of learning; continuous and seamless experiences so that the system configures around the learner, rather than the learner having to navigate the system. We will also be revisiting our early childhood education review indicators and methodologies and will ensure that they align across the system. We have already committed to focusing our national evaluations on relevant age groups, e.g. 0 to 8 years, rather than on what happens in relation to particular institutional arrangements.

Communities of Learning (CoLs)

As CoLs are forming across the country, they are working together to identify their Achievement Challenges.

ERO is writing CoL reports using information from each school’s, and where appropriate ECE’s, most recent review report. The CoL reports are sent to schools and services in a CoL, along with the offer of a workshop. The workshops are tailored by ERO and reflect the context of each community and the data being used to shape the CoLs thinking about their Achievement Challenges.

If you would be interested in organising a workshop for the schools and board members in your CoL, please contact Jan Adams jan.adams@ero.govt.nz or Ruth Nicholas ruth.nicholas@ero.govt.nz.

I have appreciated the opportunities for ERO to meet with and present to leaders, teachers, managers and trustees over the past year. I wish you all a safe and happy summer break and I look forward to working with you in 2016. 

Nāku noa, nā

Iona HolstedChief Review Officer, Education Review Office