Agape Christian Preschool - 14/06/2012

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Agapē Christian Preschool is one of two adjacent centres in Rotorua which are governed and managed by New Heights Community Christian Trust. This is the second ERO review of the preschool, which provides good-quality education and care for a maximum of 40 children over two years of age. The adjacent Agapē Christian Preschool, Teina, caters for children up to two years old.

The centre’s commitment to its Christian philosophy is very evident in centre management, the curriculum and learning outcomes for children. Teachers skilfully support children to develop social skills and ‘follow Christ’s example’ in their interactions with others. The centre also places a strong emphasis on educating and supporting centre families.

Children have good opportunities to engage in sustained, child-initiated play. They play well alongside others and are very accustomed to playing cooperatively with their friends. Children confidently communicate with adults and peers.

Adult interactions with children are consistently caring and supportive. Teachers have extended conversations with children and often respond to children’s emerging strengths and interests. They incorporate te reo Māori naturally in the programme and provide good opportunities for children to explore the creative arts and mathematical and scientific concepts.

Positive relationships are evident among trustees, management, staff and families. Parents feel well informed about their children’s learning and appreciate the many opportunities they have to participate in training, parent evenings and other events. Staff feel well supported by managers, who make good use of their diverse talents.

Systems of self review are well developed, and good use is made of professional development to reflect on practice and identify areas for further improvement. Current reviews relating to learning stories, the environment and parent expectations have strong potential to enhance learning outcomes for children. ERO agrees with trustees that it would now be useful to develop annual and strategic plans and strengthen reporting systems.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Agapē Christian Preschool was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the centre to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the management and staff. This discussion focused on existing information held by the centre (including self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to positive outcomes for children atAgapē Christian Preschool.

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; and
  • the interactions between children and adults.

The Quality of Education

Background

All aspects of the preschool’s organisation and practice are guided by the centre’s Christian philosophy.

Teaching practices are based on the belief ‘that children are a gift from God and should be nurtured, encouraged and educated with a Christ-like, unconditional love and understanding.’ The centre also places a strong emphasis on supporting and strengthening families, valuing biculturalism and including a mix of adults’ and children’s ideas in the programme.

The centre continues to benefit from the ongoing, supportive and cohesive leadership of an experienced licensee. The teaching team of seven includes four fully qualified early childhood teachers.

ERO reviewed the centre during the school holidays. Teachers report that during these times they provide a more relaxed and less challenging programme that does not include the usual transition-to-school programme for four-year-olds.

Areas of strength

Centre philosophy: The centre has a clearly defined, shared and well-understood philosophy. This philosophy is highly evident in the centre’s inclusive culture, teaching practices and children’s understanding of Christian values, key biblical messages and the purpose of prayer. Karakia, scripture verses, bible stories and Christian songs are integrated throughout the programme.

Well-being: Positive and respectful relationships are a feature of the centre. The licensee and staff establish meaningful connections with children, their parents and whānau through sensitive induction, settling practices and day-to-day interactions. Parents appreciate the many opportunities they have to participate in parent evenings and training, centre events and celebrations.

Teachers place a strong emphasis on fostering development of Christ-like attributes in children. They nurture children’s sense of self-worth, and effectively promote social skills such as caring for others, cooperation and teamwork. Teachers make good use of incidental opportunities to share Christian teachings with children and to encourage them to interact appropriately with others.

Interactions: Teachers’ interactions with children are consistently affirming, caring and supportive. Teachers warmly welcome children and their families. They work closely with parents and the Teina centre to ensure a positive transition process for children. ERO observed some good examples of teachers engaging in extended conversations with children and providing stimulating learning opportunities in response to children’s emerging strengths, interests and needs. Well-established friendships are evident between children. They play well alongside others and are very accustomed to initiating and maintaining cooperative play. Children confidently communicate with adults and peers.

Programme: Children have good opportunities to engage in sustained child-initiated play and exploration, and can independently access a range of resources to support their play. Other positive features of the programme include:

  • incorporation of mathematical concepts in response to children’s interests;
  • natural use of te reo Māori and opportunities to learn about aspects of Māori culture;
  • creative expression through storytelling, drama, music and some open-ended art activities;
  • opportunities for children to demonstrate leadership and to share their skills, knowledge and passions with their peers;
  • exploration of aspects of the natural and physical world, including gardening and regular cooking activities; and
  • some opportunities for children to use information and communication technologies.

Assessment for learning: Teachers keep parents well informed about their children’s learning through informal discussions and individual children’s assessment portfolios. Regular overviews summarise children’s progress over time.

Recent professional development has inspired teachers to reflect more deeply about learning stories, and their responsiveness to children’s emerging interests. Learning stories are now more focused on documenting the development of children’s strengths, interests and dispositions for learning. Teachers are increasingly linking stories to the centre’s philosophy, and some bicultural assessment is evident.

Self review: The centre has a well-developed rationale and sound frameworks for self review. Annual review plans are formed in consultation with staff, and reviews often include parent input. Good use is made of professional learning and development to reflect on current practice and identify areas for further development. Current reviews relating to learning stories, environments and parent expectations have strong potential to enhance the quality of education and outcomes for children.

Agreed priorities for review and development

ERO agrees with management that the teaching team would benefit from using professional development to further strengthen:

  • ways in which the environment encourages child-led learning;
  • opportunities for children explore the purpose of print and experiment with writing through child-initiated play and other meaningful contexts;
  • documentation and sharing of children’s emerging interests and possible ways to encourage children to explore these further;
  • family/whānau contributions and the reflection of individual children’s cultural identity and heritage in assessment profiles; and
  • visibility in displays of how children’s emerging strengths, interests and dispositions are noticed, recognised, responded to and developed over time.

ERO and the trustees agree that, in order to further consolidate developments, it would be useful to develop a long-term strategic plan, and to formalise aspects of annual planning and reporting. Such an approach should enable trustees to identify goals and monitor progress toward realising their vision for high-quality education and care.

3. Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Agapē Christian Preschool completed an ERO CentreManagementAssurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they have attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

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

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records of recent use of procedures. ERO also checked elements of the following areas that 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; and
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

4. Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

About the Centre

Type

Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998

Number licensed for

40 children over 2 years old

Roll number

42

Gender composition

Girls 22

Boys 20

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā 20

New Zealand Māori 20

Fijian 1

Other Asian 1

Review team on site

April 2012

Date of this report

14 June 2012

Previous ERO report

Education Review June 2009

 

14 June 2012

To the Parents and Community of Agapē Christian Preschool

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Agapē Christian Preschool.

Agapē Christian Preschool is one of two adjacent centres in Rotorua which are governed and managed by New Heights Community Christian Trust. This is the second ERO review of the preschool, which provides good-quality education and care for a maximum of 40 children over two years of age. The adjacent Agapē Christian Preschool, Teina, caters for children up to two years old.

The centre’s commitment to its Christian philosophy is very evident in centre management, the curriculum and learning outcomes for children. Teachers skilfully support children to develop social skills and ‘follow Christ’s example’ in their interactions with others. The centre also places a strong emphasis on educating and supporting centre families.

Children have good opportunities to engage in sustained, child-initiated play. They play well alongside others and are very accustomed to playing cooperatively with their friends. Children confidently communicate with adults and peers.

Adult interactions with children are consistently caring and supportive. Teachers have extended conversations with children and often respond to children’s emerging strengths and interests. They incorporate te reo Māori naturally in the programme and provide good opportunities for children to explore the creative arts and mathematical and scientific concepts.

Positive relationships are evident among trustees, management, staff and families. Parents feel well informed about their children’s learning and appreciate the many opportunities they have to participate in training, parent evenings and other events. Staff feel well supported by managers, who make good use of their diverse talents.

Systems of self review are well developed, and good use is made of professional development to reflect on practice and identify areas for further improvement. Current reviews relating to learning stories, the environment and parent expectations have strong potential to enhance learning outcomes for children. ERO agrees with trustees that it would now be useful to develop annual and strategic plans and strengthen reporting systems.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

When ERO has reviewed an early childhood centre we encourage management to inform their community of any follow up action they plan to take. You should talk to the management or contact person if you have any questions about this evaluation, the full ERO report or their future intentions.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the centre or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT REVIEWS

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve quality of education for children in early childhood centres; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.

Reviews are intended to focus on outcomes for children and build on each centre’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting is based on four review strands.

  • Quality of Education – including the quality of the programme provided for children, the quality of the learning environment and the quality of the interactions between staff and children and how these impact on outcomes for children.
  • Additional Review Priorities – other aspects of the operation of a centre, may be included in the review. ERO will not include this strand in all reviews.
  • Compliance with Legal Requirements – assurance that this centre has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of centre performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to this centre.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a centre is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this centre.