Overview

In 2012, the Education Review Office (ERO) undertook a national evaluation that investigated:

 How effectively are early childhood services across New Zealand determining, enacting and reviewing their curriculum priorities to support education success for every learner?

ERO reported its findings from this evaluation in two reports in May 2013 - Priorities for Children’s Learning in Early Childhood Services and Working with Te Whāriki.1

This latest report, Priorities for Children’s Learning in Early Childhood Services: Good Practice, complements these earlier reports. It highlights examples of good practice from five early childhood services included in the 2012 evaluation.

In these five early childhood services, the identified priorities for children’s learning were clear and reflected the context and philosophy of each individual service. The priorities were all strongly influenced by the principles and strands of Te Whāriki. In addition, parents and whānau had input into the priorities for their children’s learning.

Common themes were evident in the services’ priorities for children’s learning. They included a focus on belonging, literacy and numeracy, social and emotional competence, communication, and fostering children’s language, culture and identity. These priorities were visible in the services’ practices relating to curriculum, teaching, assessment and self review.

Aligning practices

The priorities for children’s learning in these five services anchored and informed curriculum design, teaching and assessment practice, and self review. Identified priorities were strongly reflected in each service’s curriculum, giving teachers a clear direction for teaching and learning. Each service’s environment and interactions with children also supported their identified priorities.

Teaching practices

Teaching practices at these five services included effective:

  • questioning of children
  • modelling of conversations and desired behaviours
  • integration of literacy and numeracy learning into meaningful experiences
  • support and extension of children’s learning
  • strengthening of links with family and home life.

Teachers fostered children’s strengths and interests, and aspects of their learning and development such as:

  • oral language
  • thinking
  • social and emotional competence
  • language, culture and identity
  • independence.

Assessment

Priorities for children’s learning informed assessment practice in these services. Assessment records had a strong focus on children’s knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions, and the learning taking place was clear to parents, whānau and children.

The learning that was valued in each service was noticed and responded to, through teaching strategies, in assessment records and through conversations with parents, whānau and children. Children’s progress and next learning steps, as well as continuity of learning, were evident in assessment records.

 Self review

The services’ self review was well integrated into practices. Self review informed, and was informed by, identified priorities for children’s learning. Self review included changes to the curriculum, ways of working with Te Whāriki, teaching and assessment practices, and the environment to support learning.

When curriculum design, teaching and assessment practices, and self review are aligned to, and anchored by, identified priorities for children’s learning, then services are better placed to promote positive outcomes for children.