A Place to Grow - 18/02/2013

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

A Place to Grow provides home-based education and care for young children in Feilding and Palmerston North.

Managers and educators work cooperatively to create appropriate environments and activities that cater for children’s development and exploration. Children participate in a wide range of play-based experiences. The coordinator assists educators to use their knowledge about individual children to extend and deepen learning experiences.

Child friendly family home environments invite participation and exploration. Interactions observed by ERO were warm and relaxed. Children are well settled. Reciprocal relationships between educators and parents enhance children’s care and learning.

Children have many opportunities to explore literacy and number concepts through games and in the context of their play. Educators access activities beyond the home to further develop social, physical and creative skills. Good use is made of local parks and community facilities.

Educators value the open culture, good communication and responsiveness of managers. Expectations for educators' practices to support learning and promote children’s safety are clearly stated. Ongoing monitoring by managers assists educators to meet these expectations and provides advice and guidance contributing to improvement. Management takes all reasonable steps to make homes safe physical and emotional environments for children.

Next steps agreed to by managers and ERO, include supporting educators to more effectively respond to children’s needs, building confidence in using te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and a more systematic approach to self review.

Future Action

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

2. The Focus of the Review

All ERO education reviews in early childhood focus on the quality of education. For ERO this includes the quality of:

  • the programme provided for children
  • the learning environment
  • the interactions between children and adults.

The Quality of Education

Background

This is the first ERO review for the A Place to Grow network. Managers, who have appropriate prior experience in early childhood education and care, have recently taken over this network. The key priority has been to strengthen educators' support for children’s learning.

There is an expectation that educators will assist the development of each child through the provision of programmes aligned to the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. To support this some educators are involved in study towards Early Childhood Education qualifications. A comprehensive manual for educators, and improvement-focused educator reports based on regular home visits by the coordinator, have been key elements in building practice.

The focus remains on developing holistic learning programmes in a supportive family environment. Positive relationships and a sense of belonging are important considerations for each home in the network.

Areas of good performance

Children participate in a wide range of play-based experiences. Their independence is encouraged. Educators are at varying stages in the extent to which they recognise and respond to children’s interests. The coordinator assists educators to use their knowledge about each child to extend learning experiences. She shares ideas and provides additional information and resources to build on children’s learning.

The child-friendly, home-based family environments invite participation and exploration. Interactions observed by ERO are warm and relaxed. Children are well settled. Reciprocal relationships between educators and parents enhance children’s care and learning. Children’s physical and emotional needs are nurtured and responded to sensitively. Consistent care-giving supports infants and toddlers' need for strong and secure attachments.

Children have many opportunities to explore literacy and number concepts through games and in the context of their play. Educators regularly share books and stories and provide opportunities for children to use writing and drawing tools and number activities.

Educators access activities beyond the home to further develop social, physical and creative skills. Good use is made of local parks and community facilities. A weekly playgroup provides opportunities for children to socialise with a larger group of peers, and enjoy an additional range of experiences not always available in their educators’ homes. Playgroup sessions are being used more purposefully to build educator capability.

Portfolios record children’s involvement and learning. Expectations for showing progress within learning stories are shared and monitored. Increasingly they recognise and respond to children’s emerging interests. Family experiences are recorded in the portfolios and sharing these encourages parent involvement in their child’s learning and development.

Educators value the open culture, good communication and responsiveness of managers. Expectations for practices to support learning and promote children’s safety are clearly stated in the educators' manual. Ongoing monitoring by managers supports educators to meet these expectations and provides advice and guidance. Educator reports completed by the coordinator contribute to improvement by identifying positive features of each programme and suggesting next steps.

Areas for development and review

ERO and managers have identified the following areas for development and review.

Within the network there is variable understanding by educators of how to effectively recognise and respond to children’s abilities, interests and needs. Managers should continue to support educators to recognise the significance of what children are learning and provide guidelines for collecting, recording and using assessment information to respond to the interests and needs of children.

There are limited opportunities to become familiar with New Zealand’s bicultural heritage through the inclusion of a Māori perspective and te reo Māori in programmes. Guidelines for supporting bicultural practice are included within the manual for educators. The coordinator should continue to support educators confidence to use te reo me ngā tikanga Māori in meaningful contexts with children.

Reflection and spontaneous self review informs decision making by managers and educators. A more planned, systematic and documented approach to self review should be developed, particularly in relation to continuing to develop the quality of outcomes for children.

3. Management Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the management and staff of A Place to Grow completed an ERO Home-Based Care Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • administration
  • health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial and property management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on outcomes for children:

  • emotional safety (including behaviour management, prevention of bullying and abuse)
  • physical safety (including behaviour management, sleeping and supervision practices; accidents and medication; hygiene and routines; travel and excursion policies and procedures)
  • staff qualifications and organisation
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

ERO and the service provider agree that In order to improve current practice managers should:

  • implement a system of regular appraisal for the coordinator and educators.

4. Future Action

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

18 February 2013

About the Service

Location

Feilding

Ministry of Education profile number

50106

Service type

Homebased Network

Chartered under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Service roll

69

Gender composition

Female 38, Male 31

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other ethnic groups

59

6

4

Review team on site

December 2012

Date of this report

18 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports