Blessings for Life - 26/07/2017

1 Evaluation of Blessings for Life

How well placed is Blessings for Life to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.

Background

Blessings for Life provides full-day education and care for 25 children, including a maximum of 5 children up to two years of age. The centre operates from the manager's home in the Far North, overlooking the Houhora harbour. The centre serves a mainly bicultural Māori and Pākehā community.

Babies and toddlers have a separate indoor space for more quiet play, and are well supported by their teachers to join older children for meals and mixed-age play. The outside space caters very well for children of all ages.

The philosophy is based on strong Christian values and promotes a curriculum that is led by a good balance of child and adult led learning programmes.

Most teachers, including the manager, are experienced and well qualified. The manager and several staff are family members, an aspect that promotes the whānau-focused approaches and ethos at the centre. In 2016 the owner opened a new Blessings for Life centre in Kaitaia.

The manager and head teacher oversee the daily programme and operations. A full-time cook provides nutritious and healthy meals, and good adult-to-child ratios give children opportunities for individualised care and attention.

The 2013 ERO report noted many positive features about learning programmes and centre operations. It identified next steps to further improve programme planning, success for Māori children and self review. Good progress has been made in all these areas. 

The Review Findings

Children at Blessings for Life are settled, happy and engaged in their play and learning. Teachers and staff promote a calm, peaceful environment and support children to play in areas of their choice. Older children have good opportunities to play collaboratively, or independently as they prefer. They are friendly and caring towards each other. Older children are especially supportive and kind to their younger friends.

Whānau and children are well known by staff, and they make parents comfortable in the centre. Quiet, comfortable spaces are thoughtfully furnished to provide warmth and security. Teachers increasingly work in partnership with whānau, and respond to the aspirations parents have for their children. These good practices promote children's strong sense of ownership and security in the centre.

Teachers are respectful and positive with children and each other. They work with and alongside children and encourage an unhurried pace to the day. Staff give appropriate space and time for children to explore and expand on their ideas. In line with the centre philosophy, teachers promote a child-centred curriculum and play-based approaches alongside deliberate acts of teaching. Teachers value children's strengths, knowledge and individual characteristics.

The spacious centre environment is thoughtfully organised to provide a range of attractive spaces that encourage exploration and fun physical challenges. Children have very good opportunities for creative and imaginative play. Literacy, numeracy and science learning is promoted throughout the daily programme and in the context of play. Science learning is often connected to te ao Māori, to the history of the area and whenua.

Teachers are becoming increasingly skilled in their use of te reo Māori, and tikanga is practised throughout the centre. The ongoing strengthening of bicultural practice shows the commitment that teachers have for promoting the language, culture and identity of Māori children and bicultural Aotearoa New Zealand.

Teachers are affectionate and nurturing, especially with infants and toddlers. They follow younger children's rhythms and cues, and work in partnership with parents to meet children's care needs. All teachers are currently involved in professional learning to strengthen the programme for the younger age group. Centre leaders are growing professional connections with local primary schools, easing transition for older children.

Children's portfolios provide a very good record of how the service works alongside whānau to support children's holistic needs.  Leaders are now refining their learning stories so that children's next learning steps are clear in teachers' planning.

The manager leads the centre effectively and nurtures staff. Leadership approaches support teachers to grow as leaders and learners, and model and affirm very good teaching and learning practices. The manager promotes collaboration and shared decision making with staff and whānau. Leaders skilfully plan, resource and review learning programmes and centre operations. Ongoing improvement-focused approaches include good feedback and support for teachers about their practice.

The service's guiding documents are very well enacted on a daily basis within a wider vision of serving and supporting whānau in the local community. Leaders, staff and whānau are looking forward to moving to a new, purpose built centre early in 2018.

Key Next Steps

Centre leaders now plan to strengthen their internal evaluation of programmes and systems. This useful next step would support leaders as they prepare to align the centre's strategic planning with teachers' appraisal goals and professional learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Blessings for Life completed an ERO Centre Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist.  In these documents they attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • curriculum
  • premises and facilities
  • health and safety practices
  • governance, management and administration.

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s systems for managing the following areas that have a potentially high impact on children's wellbeing:

  • emotional safety (including positive guidance and child protection)
  • physical safety (including supervision; sleep procedures; accidents; medication; hygiene; excursion policies and procedures)
  • suitable staffing (including qualification levels; police vetting; teacher registration; ratios)
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

All early childhood services are required to promote children's health and safety and to regularly review their compliance with legal requirements.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Blessings for Life will be in four years. 

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

26 July 2017 

The Purpose of ERO Reports

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the government department that, as part of its work, reviews early childhood services throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. ERO’s reports provide information for parents and communities about each service’s strengths and next steps for development. ERO’s bicultural evaluation framework Ngā Pou Here is described in SECTION 3 of this report. Early childhood services are partners in the review process and are expected to make use of the review findings to enhance children's wellbeing and learning. 

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service 

Location

Pukenui

Ministry of Education profile number

45804

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

25 children, including up to 5 aged under 2

Service roll

25

Gender composition

Boys 12,  Girls 13

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Middle Eastern

15
  8
  2

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

1:2.5

Better than minimum requirements

Over 2

1:3.5

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

26 July 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

 

Education Review

September 2013

3 General Information about Early Childhood Reviews

ERO’s Evaluation Framework

ERO’s overarching question for an early childhood education review is ‘How well placed is this service to promote positive learning outcomes for children?’ ERO focuses on the following factors as described in the bicultural framework Ngā Pou Here:

  • Pou Whakahaere – how the service determines its vision, philosophy and direction to ensure positive outcomes for children
  • Pou Ārahi – how leadership is enacted to enhance positive outcomes for children
  • Mātauranga – whose knowledge is valued and how the curriculum is designed to achieve positive outcomes for children
  • Tikanga whakaako – how approaches to teaching and learning respond to diversity and support positive outcomes for children.

Within these areas ERO considers the effectiveness of arotake – self review and of whanaungatanga – partnerships with parents and whānau. 

ERO evaluates how well placed a service is to sustain good practice and make ongoing improvements for the benefit of all children at the service.

A focus for the government is that all children, especially priority learners, have an opportunity to benefit from quality early childhood education. ERO will report on how well each service promotes positive outcomes for all children, with a focus on children who are Māori, Pacific, have diverse needs, and are up to the age of two.

For more information about the framework and Ngā Pou Here refer to ERO’s Approach to Review in Early Childhood Services.

ERO’s Overall Judgement and Next Review

The overall judgement that ERO makes and the timing of the next review will depend on how well placed a service is to promote positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed – The next ERO review in four years
  • Well placed – The next ERO review in three years
  • Requires further development – The next ERO review within two years
  • Not well placed - The next ERO review in consultation with the Ministry of Education

ERO has developed criteria for each category. These are available on ERO’s website.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews are tailored to each service’s context and performance, within the overarching review framework. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to the service.