Christopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre - 30/09/2011

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Christopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre, in Raumaunga, Whangarei, operates as a preschool service in conjunction with an adjacent centre that caters for children under three years of age. A flexible transition process between the two centres enables children to move to the older group as they are ready after turning two. Teachers provide a programme based on Christian beliefs and the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which includes engaging children in sustained projects that are linked to their interests.

This is the first ERO review of the centre since the service began in 2008. Centre managers have a strong commitment to the ongoing professional development of staff and five are qualified teachers. The managers develop annual plans to guide the operation of the service and recognise that a long-term strategic plan could have a positive impact on centre practices.

Children are happy in the centre and settle quickly on arrival. They share respectful relationships with teachers and enjoy friendships with their peers. They move freely between the indoor and outdoor environment and approach adults with confidence. Children respond well when teachers plan projects that challenge them to explore new ideas. They often work cooperatively in small groups. They are developing selfhelp skills effectively, but would benefit from more opportunities to extend their learning and to practise early literacy skills in the context of play.

As teachers continue to develop their programme planning they should be better able to increase the complexity in children’s play and extend their use of information and communication technologies (ICT).

The centre is a well resourced learning environment. In accordance with Reggio Emilia philosophy, managers provide authentic domestic resources where practical. Teachers are currently reviewing the outdoor area to enhance equipment and environmental features.

Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Christopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre 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 atChristopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre.

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.

In addition, ERO decided to evaluate the quality of management and personnel systems.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

The Quality of Education

Background

The centre is a new service that caters for children over two years old.

Areas of strength

Confident children. Teachers provide a welcoming environment in which children separate easily from their parents and settle quickly at an area of interest. They share positive relationships with teachers and are developing friendships with their peers. Children approach adults with confidence and openly engage in conversations about their play and interests. They know to ask for help when needed. They respond well when teachers engage them in challenging tasks and encourage them to explore their own ideas. In this environment children show a sense of belonging and are becoming independent as they learn self-help skills and respect for resources.

Supportive teachers. Staff consistently work alongside children, encouraging their involvement in play and exploring resources with them. Teachers initiate conversations about children’s interests and experiences beyond the centre, often helping children to engage in sustained interactions. Teachers foster small group work with children and also encourage them to work independently, making choices and negotiating as they share resources. Children are familiar with adults’ expectations and generally remain busy in activities that interest them.

Planned projects. Collated folders, wall displays and children’s portfolios document several successful projects that have involved children in exploring topics of interest. Some of these experiences have enabled teachers to incorporate learning across a range of curriculum areas so that creativity, technology, science and literacy have been integrated into the programme in meaningful ways. The challenge for teachers is to maintain ongoing stimulation that will develop the complexity of children’s play every day.

Areas for development and review

Extended learning. Children mostly engage in simple activities, yet show obvious enthusiasm when teachers initiate new concepts or challenges. Teachers should provide this type of learning more consistently. Specific areas they could improve include:

  • recognising and responding to teachable moments when simple play can be lifted to a more complex level
  • enhancing teachers’ use of open-ended questions to add depth to children’s thinking
  • making better use of ICT to extend children’s skills and inquiry learning
  • developing clear strategies for consistently integrating literacy, numeracy and science throughout the programme
  • providing teachers new to the centre with more training in Reggio Emilia teaching approaches.

In addition, teachers should review the formal aspects of their literacyprovision.

Programme management. Teachers have largely informal processes for identifying and responding to children’s interests. While they record activities and resources to support interests, and identify links with Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, teachers are not yet consistently planning ways to extend children’s learning. They should become more aware of teaching strategies and formalise their evaluations of the programme. Teachers are beginning to analyse learning through their learning stories, but need to improve several aspects of children’s assessment portfolios, including having a better focus on significant learning experiences and making more specific links between stories.

Teachers could also improve information for parents and further encourage children to revisit some of their learning experiences by extending the displays of learning stories in the environment.

Other Priorities

Management and personnel

Background

The service provider works collaboratively with the centre manager and administrator to operate the two centres. They meet regularly and are guided by an annual management plan to oversee personnel, management and administrative tasks. They have established systems for managing finances and daily operations, including a schedule for reviewing policies and procedures. Managers maintain good relationships with families and continue to develop centre resources.

Areas of strength

Professional development. Managers are committed to the ongoing professional development of staff. They are responsive to requests for teachers to attend workshops and seminars and support beginning teachers during their registration process. Managers have involved staff in mentoring programmes and have fostered the development of ICT skills in the centres.

Areas for development and review

Management systems. Centre management tends to be more reactive than goal focused. Managers could enhance centre development by establishing long-term strategic goals that inform their work as a leadership team. A more positive focus in terms of staff and management meetings could contribute to improved staff commitment.

Self review. Managers have instigated several reviews since opening the centres. These have not necessarily improved policies, procedures or practices. Managers and staff should critically analyse the effectiveness of self review so that it becomes more focused on improving practices. They should also better align some policies with legal requirements and eliminate discrepancies between policies, the staff handbook and the philosophy statements.

Personnel practices. Staffing changes have had an impact on the extent to which teachers operate as a cohesive team, understand the curriculum philosophy and foster high quality learning experiences. Managers have recently improved staff induction processes and provide leadership opportunities for teachers to promote a sense of teamwork. They recognise that they should now develop more effective appraisal processes, foster collaborative staff meetings and allocate specific time for programme planning and evaluation. Managers should monitor the consistency of their communications with staff and encourage models of good teaching practice.

3. National Evaluation Topic

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole through its national reports. This information will be used as the basis for long term and systemic educational improvement.

Partnerships with whānau of Māori children in early childhood services

As part of this review ERO evaluated the extent to which:

  • this service understands and values the identity, language and culture of Māori children and their whānau, particularly when the child and whānau transition to the service
  • managers and educators have built relationships with whānau of Māori children
  • this service works in partnership with whānau of Māori children.

Background

Currently, 17 Māori children are enrolled in this centre. Staff are enthusiastic about strengthening their use and understanding of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. The managers and staff recognise that their relationship with Māori whānau is an area for development.

Areas of strength

Focused self review: A self-review process has recently started using Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education Māori education strategy. A questionnaire is currently being developed to gather information from parents. This information will help staff to understand and respond to the values, beliefs and aspirations that Māori parents have for their children. The review could also be used to reflect on the ways in which programmes for children are adapted in response to information shared by whānau.

Words and phrases in te reo Māori are displayed throughout the centre to support all staff to promote the incidental use of te reo Māori.

Areas for development and review

Strengthening relationships. The managers should consider a range of options for gathering information from Māori whānau. When using surveys, managers need to consider questions that will provide them with information that is useful for building relationships. The managers could use parents’ responses to establish strategic goals with measurable outcomes to support ongoing development.

4. Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Christopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre completed an ERO CentreAssurance Statement andSelf-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they have 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 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
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

In order to improve current practice, centre managers should:

  • secure shelving in both centres and
  • strengthen hazard management systems.

5. Recommendations

ERO and the centre managers agree that:

  • teachers should further develop their planning processes to provide more consistent learning challenges for children
  • managers should review their management framework to strengthen their focus on goals and consistent practices in centre operations
  • managers should critically reflect on the effectiveness of personnel practices, including the impact of high staff turnover.

6. Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

 

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

 

About the Centre

Type

All Day, Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children over two years old

Roll number

54

Gender composition

Girls 32,

Boys 22

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 34,

Māori 17,

British/Irish 1,

Polish 1,

Samoan 1

Review team on site

June 2011

Date of this report

30 September 2011

Previous three ERO reports

No previous ERO reports

30 September 2011

To the Parents and Community of Christopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Christopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre.

Christopher and Robin Early Childhood Centre, in Raumaunga, Whangarei, operates as a preschool service in conjunction with an adjacent centre that caters for children under three years of age. A flexible transition process between the two centres enables children to move to the older group as they are ready after turning two. Teachers provide a programme based on Christian beliefs and the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which includes engaging children in sustained projects that are linked to their interests.

This is the first ERO review of the centre since the service began in 2008. Centre managers have a strong commitment to the ongoing professional development of staff and five are qualified teachers. The managers develop annual plans to guide the operation of the service and recognise that a long-term strategic plan could have a positive impact on centre practices.

Children are happy in the centre and settle quickly on arrival. They share respectful relationships with teachers and enjoy friendships with their peers. They move freely between the indoor and outdoor environment and approach adults with confidence. Children respond well when teachers plan projects that challenge them to explore new ideas. They often work cooperatively in small groups. They are developing selfhelp skills effectively, but would benefit from more opportunities to extend their learning and to practise early literacy skills in the context of play.

As teachers continue to develop their programme planning they should be better able to increase the complexity in children’s play and extend their use of information and communication technologies (ICT).

The centre is a well resourced learning environment. In accordance with Reggio Emilia philosophy, managers provide authentic domestic resources where practical. Teachers are currently reviewing the outdoor area to enhance equipment and environmental features.

Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in 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.
  • National Evaluation Topics – This strand contributes to the development of education policies and their effective implementation. The information from this strand is aggregated by ERO for its national evaluation reports. Topics for investigation are changed regularly to provide up-to-date information.
  • 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.