Darfield Preschool And Nursery - 13/07/2009

Community Page

Darfield Preschool and Nursery is a non-profit, charitable trust, governed by a parent elected board of trustees. The nursery caters for children under two years old and the pre-school for children up to school age. The nursery and the pre-school have their own well developed indoor and outdoor areas. The centre has full rolls and a waiting list. All staff are qualified early childhood teachers or training to be early childhood teachers. The board maintains staff-to-child ratios that are better than those required by legislation.

The centre provides good quality education and care with many examples of high quality observed during the review. The nursery is a particular strength of the centre. Since the 2006 ERO review, the board, managers and staff have continued to upgrade the indoor and outdoor environments. They are planning to extend the nursery during 2009. The managers and teachers have made some improvements to child assessment and programme planning practices. They have also established a self-review programme.

The managers and staff provide a welcoming and supportive environment for children and their families. Children enjoy nurturing and affirming relationships with staff members. They are encouraged to respect and care for each other. A feature of the nursery programme is the provision of primary carers for infants and toddlers. Children in the nursery and pre-school are happy, social and confident.

Particular strengths of this centre include:

  • the large outdoor playground that promotes exploration and creativity;
  • the wide range of activities and resources in the nursery and pre-school;
  • the focus on developing children’s interests;
  • integrating Mäori language and culture into the programme; and
  • good transition practices between the nursery and the pre-school.

The board, managers, staff and ERO identified that the centre wants to focus more on evaluating how the implementation of the centre’s philosophy promotes high quality learning and teaching. In order to achieve this objective, the board and managers should:

  • increase the focus of the strategic plan and self review on children’s learning;
  • ensure that staff appraisal and development goals challenge and extend staff members;
  • increase the depth and detail of the pre-school learning story assessments so that learning can be more easily identified and supported in teaching.

The trustees, managers and staff work together effectively. Overall, there are good systems and practices in place to provide a safe and healthy environment for children, staff and parents.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interests of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

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 licensee 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.

Dr Graham Stoop

Chief Review Officer

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.
  • Areas of National Interest – information about how Government policies are working in early childhood centres.
  • 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.

1. About the Centre

Location

Darfield, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

70401

Type

Education and Care Service

Number licensed for

49 children, including up to 12 aged under two

Roll number

94

Gender composition

Girls 35;
Boys 59

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pakeha 86;
Māori 1;
Niuean 2;
Asian 3;

Other 2

Review team on site

May 2009

Date of this report

13 July 2009

Previous ERO reports

Education Review February 2006
Education Review December 2002
Accountability Review April 1998
Assurance Audit October 1993

2. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Darfield Preschool and Nursery is a non-profit, charitable trust, governed by a parent elected board of trustees. The nursery caters for children under two years old and the pre-school for children up to school age. The nursery and the pre-school have their own well developed indoor and outdoor areas. The centre has full rolls and a waiting list. All staff are qualified early childhood teachers or training to be early childhood teachers. The board maintains staff-to-child ratios that are better than those required by legislation.

The centre provides good quality education and care with many examples of high quality observed during the review. The nursery is a particular strength of the centre. Since the 2006 ERO review, the board, managers and staff have continued to upgrade the indoor and outdoor environments. They are planning to extend the nursery during 2009. The managers and teachers have made some improvements to child assessment and programme planning practices. They have also established a self-review programme.

The managers and staff provide a welcoming and supportive environment for children and their families. Children enjoy nurturing and affirming relationships with staff members. They are encouraged to respect and care for each other. A feature of the nursery programme is the provision of primary carers for infants and toddlers. Children in the nursery and pre-school are happy, social and confident.

Particular strengths of this centre include:

  • the large outdoor playground that promotes exploration and creativity;
  • the wide range of activities and resources in the nursery and pre-school;
  • the focus on developing children’s interests;
  • integrating Mäori language and culture into the programme; and
  • good transition practices between the nursery and the pre-school.

The board, managers, staff and ERO identified that the centre wants to focus more on evaluating how the implementation of the centre’s philosophy promotes high quality learning and teaching. In order to achieve this objective, the board and managers should:

  • increase the focus of the strategic plan and self review on children’s learning;
  • ensure that staff appraisal and development goals challenge and extend staff members;
  • increase the depth and detail of the pre-school learning story assessments so that learning can be more easily identified and supported in teaching.

The trustees, managers and staff work together effectively. Overall, there are good systems and practices in place to provide a safe and healthy environment for children, staff and parents.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interests of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

3. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Darfield Preschool and Nursery 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 atDarfield Preschool and Nursery.

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.

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

The Quality of Education

Background

The centre philosophy states that children will be encouraged to explore and choose their own activities. Staff members will help children to identify their own strengths and interests. They will give children time to develop new skills and support them in their learning. The board, managers and staff promote close relationships with families. Māori family values, beliefs and aspirations are also to be appreciated and acknowledged.

Areas of good performance

The Centre

  • Relationships. The centre atmosphere is welcoming and supportive of children, teachers and parents. Children enjoy caring, nurturing and affirming relationships with their teachers. Children model these characteristics in their relationships with each other. Teachers work collaboratively. They share information and support each other in the programme. Parents are warmly welcomed and often stay and join the children’s play. Board members commented to ERO that families choose the centre because of its inclusiveness of children and their families.

  • Environment. The environment is stimulating, well resourced and accessible to children. Children can move easily between the indoor and outdoor areas in the pre-school and the nursery. The pre-school outdoor environment is spacious. It has a number of natural plantings and interesting places for children to explore. There is a good range of resources that encourage physical and imaginative play. ERO observed that these resources were well used, particularly by boys. Verandah areas in the nursery and pre-school were used for activities such as painting, family play, books and puzzles. This ensures that children who prefer to play outside still participate in indoor activities. A feature of the nursery and pre-school programmes is the inclusion of music and science. Children are active, engaged learners who persist for long periods of time to fully develop their ideas and complete activities.

  • Transition. Children participate in well-developed transition practices that help them to settle easily when moving from the nursery to the pre-school. Staff individualise transitions for each child. A nursery teacher stays with the child in the pre-school to help them build relationships with new teachers and children. Children can decide how long they stay in the pre-school for each visit. They are also able to revisit the nursery when they have transitioned to the pre-school. Parents are involved in the process. The child profile books provide a record of the transition and are often revisited by the child, parents and teachers.

  • Teamwork. The board, managers and teachers work together effectively to provide a stimulating and safe environment for children. They have delegations for governance and management that work well. The board shows that it values the staff and actively promotes practices to retain them. Managers and staff appreciate the effort that the board makes such as funding off-site professional development for all staff and providing flexible working hours. Board and staff members meet regularly to share developments and information about the programme.

The Nursery

  • Wellbeing and belonging. Infants and toddlers are well cared for and nurtured. The centre maintains ratios of at least one staff member to every three infants and toddlers. Infants under a year old have a primary caregiver. Toddlers choose their primary caregivers. Systems are in place for the daily sharing of information between the families and staff. Infants and toddlers build trusting and loving relationships with a familiar staff member and close relationships with the family are maintained.

  • Language development. Teachers actively promote the oral language development of infants and toddlers. Staff members repeat and expand on infants early attempts to verbalise and offer sounds for them to imitate. Staff members use simple clear phrases with toddlers. They have realistic expectations of toddlers’ verbal and listening skills. Infants and toddlers have plenty of opportunities to talk to other children, play verbal games and listen to stories, songs and chants. Language is also used to soothe and comfort. ERO observed infants and toddlers who wanted to communicate with others, and expected to be understood and responded to.

  • Child profiles. Infant and toddler profile books provide a good range of information about children’s learning and development in the nursery. The profiles show infants’ and toddlers’ interests across the curriculum. Learning stories identify progress and how staff members will continue to support this learning. Child profile books often include parents’ comments and photographs of home events.

The Pre-school

  • Social skill development. Children’s social development is nurtured. The centre atmosphere is calm, affirming and non confrontational. Staff use a range of effective approaches to help children develop friendships, respect others and manage their behaviour appropriately. They make good use of praise, redirection, guidance and timely intervention. Children express their happiness and take pleasure in the company of others.

  • Following children’s interests. Teachers consistently identify and pursue children’s interests. They make good use of their observations and conversations to find out what children want to learn more about. Programme plans are built around children’s interests. The plans identify how different aspects of the programme such as routines, resources and trips could support further development of these interests. Staff and children have prepared attractive books about how they have expanded upon children’s interests. Children often use these books to revisit their interests with each other, teachers or family members.

  • Routines. Routines are purposeful, well integrated and minimal. Children spend the majority of their time in their own play and learning. Staff use group morning tea and lunch times to help to ensure that children eat and drink regularly and wash their hands before meals. They use meal breaks to provide children with time for rest and pleasant social conversations with teachers and each other.

  • Programme records. Children’s profile books are well presented, include regular entries and multiple perspectives about the child. Staff members share the writing of learning stories and write for any of the children. Staff have developed a mapping matrix to track identification of children’s interests and to help make sure all profiles have regular entries. Sometimes parents also write comments or learning stories. The managers and staff now have a good foundation to include more depth and detail in the learning stories so that they can improve identification of and planning for learning.

Areas for improvement

  • Further enhancement of quality teaching and learning. The board and managers want to provide high quality learning and teaching. They have yet to define what it should look like in this centre. They employ a number of highly trained and experienced early childhood practitioners who provide high quality learning experiences for children. More use of the expertise of these teachers should enable a common understanding of what quality teaching and learning is to be defined and constantly worked towards. The development of high quality indicators that relate to the implementation of the centre philosophy, explorations about good practice, and the ongoing sharing of ideas amongst staff should support this process. The board understands that this will take considerable time and should be approached strategically. [Recommendation 6.1]

  • Strategic planning. The board has yet to develop a useful strategic plan that provides direction for improving learning and teaching. Establishing closer links to goals for learning and teaching over the next three to five years should provide better strategic direction. Annual planning, with specific goals about teaching and learning is likely to help the board work towards achieving its long-term vision for the centre. [Recommendation 6.1]

  • Self review. Self review has yet to focus sufficiently on children’s learning. The board, managers and staff regularly complete reviews. However, they have few indicators for quality. Reviews generally focus on increasing resources and health and safety practices. More emphasis on defining what will be reviewed, and the quality of information to be gathered and analysed, should help to ensure reviews improve the quality of learning and teaching. [Recommendation 6.2]

  • Strengthening assessment in the pre-school. Managers and teachers have yet to make good use of high quality assessment to identify and plan next steps of learning for children. Records of learning often lack depth and often focus on social skill development and identifying children’s interests. More identification of learning dispositions should help teachers to group and plan to extend children’s learning across the curriculum. [Recommendation 6.2]

  • Staff appraisal. The staff appraisal system provides little direction or challenge for staff to improve learning and teaching. Current practice meets compliance requirements but provides little direction for worthwhile professional development. Further alignment of staff appraisal and professional development to the strategic plan and the centre’s definition for high quality learning and teaching should help to improve the learning outcomes for children. [Recommendation 6.3]

4. Area of National Interest

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.

Māori Children

As part of this review, ERO evaluated the extent to which this service carries out a process to identify and respond to the aspirations and expectations of the parents and whānau of Māori children and focuses on the potential of Māori children to develop as competent and capable learners.

Area of good performance

  • Including Māori language and culture. Managers and staff have successfully worked with a Māori staff member and parents to increase the use of te reo and tikanga Māori in the programme. ERO observed staff members using te reo Mäori in their conversations with children. Waiata are part of the music programme. The environment includes displays of Mäori and Pākehā working, socialising and enjoying being together. Children are learning to take pride in the dual culture of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Areafor improvement

  • Integrating Mäori values, beliefs and aspirations. The board, managers and staff have begun to include reference to Mäori beliefs and values in their documentation. The centre’s philosophy was reviewed in 2009. It includes reference to Mäori values, beliefs and aspirations. Defining what this means in consultation with Mäori families should provide direction for including Mäori values and aspirations in other documents such as the strategic plan and self-review procedures. [Recommendation 6.1]

5. Management Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the licensee and staff of Darfield Preschool and Nursery completed an ERO CentreManagement Assurance Statement andSelf-Audit Checklist. In these documents they have attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • administration;
  • health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management; and
  • 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; and
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

During the course of the review, ERO identified one area of non-compliance.

The centre does not have a policy to deal with sexual and racial harassment. In order to address this important employment issue, the centre’s management and board must:

5.1 develop a racial and sexual harassment policy.

[462, s68, s69 Human Rights Act 1993; s108, s117, s118 Employment Relations Act 2000]

In order to improve current practice, the management should:

5.2 develop and use risk analysis and management system (RAMS) forms for excursions;

5.3 establish a complaints file for all letters of complaint and investigations or actions;

5.4 use the teachers’ accident register when a staff member is injured; and

5.5 analyse the children’s accident register to look for patterns and potential hazards.

Since the on-site stage of the review, the board, managers and staff have put systems and practices in place to address the action and recommendations to improve health and safety.

6. Recommendations

ERO, the board and centre managers have developed the following recommendations in order to improve outcomes for children. The board and head teachers:

  • develop and implement a plan to define and build higher quality teaching and learning;
  • gather, analyse and review information to inform progress over time in teaching and learning; and
  • develop the capacity of staff to deliver higher quality programmes for all children.

7. Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interests of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

Dr Graham Stoop

Chief Review Officer