Conclusion - part one

Strong learning foundations and a sense of identity and belonging can contribute to transition being a successful experience. Successful transition from early childhood education to school can help maintain continuity of learning. ERO found that the most effective practices supporting children as they approach transition to school included:

  • a responsive and holistic curriculum focused on dispositional learning, independence and social competence as outlined in Te Whāriki
  • assessment information that makes children’s strengths, dispositions and interests visible, identifies their progress and shows continuity of learning over time
  • relationships with parents and whanau, and other important adults, focused on learning and supporting the child (including their language, culture and identity)
  • collaborative relationships between teachers in services and schools so expectations, philosophies and curricula are shared, valued and understood
  • evidence of the impacts of processes and practices around transition, with self review resulting in positive changes in support for children.

While about half of services in this evaluation were supporting children as they approached transition to school, ERO’s findings raise concerns about the support for Maori and Pacific children. These findings show that Maori and Pacific children are disproportionately over-represented in the least supportive services in this evaluation.

Early childhood education lays a foundation for future learning and education success, and research shows that culturally responsive teaching and assessment are strong themes for that future success. 1 This is particularly important for Maori and Pacific children

in developing a strong sense of identity and belonging to support their transition to school.2, 3 Eighty percent of Maori children enrolled in early childhood education attend an English-medium service. 4 Similarly, 85 percent of Pacific children enrolled in early childhood education attend a mainstream (non-Pacific immersion) centre. 5

The challenge for many services in this evaluation was to develop and strengthen their understanding about the significance of children’s language, culture and identity when designing and implementing their curriculum. Many services intended to give priority to children’s cultural heritage, but few had done so in a deliberate and planned way.

Assessment remains a challenge for many services. 6 Children’s learning - knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions - was not always visible to parents and whanau in assessment records, and was not promoted as a valuable way of supporting children’s transition to school. Opportunities for children to revisit their learning that shows progress over time enhances their sense of self as capable and confident learners. 7 When that learning and progress is visible and shared as part of transition, those transitions are more likely to be successful.

Although many services in this evaluation provided parents with information about their child’s learning to be shared with schools, such information was not always sought or valued by schools as a means to support successful transition for children and their families. Improved collaboration, particularly between services, schools, parents and whanau, would enable and enhance the sharing of information about children’s learning, and support their successful transition to school.