Introduction

mproving educational outcomes for Māori learners is a key priority for the education sector. The focus of current education strategies is to improve the way the education system assists Māori learners realise their potential. Early childhood services have a key role in building strong learning foundations to enable young children to develop as competent and confident learners.

The majority of Māori children (76 percent)1 participating in early childhood education do so in mainstream early childhood services. ERO evaluated the provision of education and care for Māori children in 576 early childhood services, as part of their regular education reviews during Term 4, 2008 and Terms 1 and 2, 2009. The evaluation focused on the extent to which services:

  • responded to the aspirations and expectations of parents and whānau of Māori children; and
  • focused on realising the potential of Māori children to become competent and confident learners.

ERO found that although many early childhood services have processes to consult and communicate with the families, less than half (41 percent) were using these processes to identify and respond to the aspirations and expectations of parents and whānau of Māori children. Shifting managers’ and educators’ thinking and practice from having processes for all children (and their parents and whānau), to understanding the need to listen, respect and respond to what parents and whānau of Māori children expect of the service is one of the biggest challenges.

Just over a third of services were focused on supporting Māori children to become competent and confident learners. Managers and educators in many services need to recognise the importance of acknowledging Māori children’s cultural identity and heritage. Reflecting on their practices in supporting Māori children to experience success as learners, and questioning these is a next step for many services.

This report complements the national evaluation report, Success for Māori Children in Early Childhood Services, March 2010. It presents examples of good practice from nine early childhood services, identified during their ERO reviews, which had practices that were working for Māori children and their parents and whānau. The report gives some background information about each service, highlights what the service is doing to respond to parent and whānau aspirations and expectations, uses quotes from personnel in the services, and describes practices that focus on Māori children as successful learners. The examples also include ideas to help other services wanting to be more responsive to whānau and to improve their support for Māori children.

These nine services are at different stages in their development. The good practice ERO found showed that some services are well on the way and others are taking small steps towards becoming a service that fits with their vision and aligns with their beliefs and values as expressed in their philosophy statement.