Lillyput Montessori Pre-School - 12/04/2011

1 The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Lillyput Montessori Pre-school is one of two Montessori centres located in an attractive, well maintained rural property in Whitford, Auckland. Children travel from a wide geographic area to attend the centre. The development of the Lillyput Montessori Pre-school grew out of requests from parents for a centre for children who were too young to attend Lilly’s Locker Montessori Pre-school.

The centre programme is based on the teaching approach developed by Maria Montessori. Teachers introduce children to Montessori activities when they consider them ready. Each activity has a prescribed outcome and uses specific equipment. Children choose activities and are provided with a quiet space and time to complete the task. The teacher demonstrates the activity and supports the child when necessary, encouraging self correction.

Because children at Lillyput are generally between birth and three years of age, not all children are involved in these activities and those who are begin with a short period of involvement. Children have good opportunities to develop social and practical skills. Teachers include te reo Māori in the programme and provide many opportunities for children to learn about the range of cultures represented at the centre by staff and children.

Teachers provide good opportunities for children to engage in conversations that develop their oral language. Children participate in horse riding and gymnastics lessons as appropriate to their age and levels of confidence.

Some of the teaching practices observed at Lillyput are better suited to older children. The new head teacher should review the centre philosophy with parents and staff and identify ways of adapting teaching practice so that it better meets the developmental stages of the age group of children attending. Some changes could be made to centre routines so that they better meet the needs of the younger children. Teachers should develop ways of interacting with children to support their interests and dispositions more fully.

Future Action

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 Lillyput Montessori Pre-School 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 at Lillyput Montessori Pre-School.

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 centre managers suggested that within these areas the review could consider the gymnastics programme, which is provided for all children at a timetabled time and is run by an experienced gymnastics teacher.

The Quality of Education

Background

Since the 2008 ERO review there have been some staff changes at the centre. In 2010 a new head teacher was employed. She is focused on on-going improvement and is keen to develop robust self-review processes to guide the development of the centre.

Areas of strength

Social skills development. The programme has a strong focus on developing children’s social skills. This focus reflects the Montessori approach to developing grace and courtesy. Teachers often support children to use appropriate ways of interacting with adults and other children.

Practical life activities. The programme emphasises the development of children’s practical skills, which are promoted in the particular Montessori activities that the older children are introduced to, as well as at meal times. A timetabled gymnastic programme is designed to support children’s physical development and awareness.

Multicultural programme. Teachers successfully include in the programme aspects of the languages and cultures of the children attending the centre. The home languages of the children are used where possible and when appropriate. Mat time activities include aspects of a range of cultures. The Montessori activities also have a strong focus on place and culture. Wall displays support this focus.

Learning opportunities. The location of the centre and the interests and skills of the centre owner enable the children to participate in gymnastic activities and to enjoy encounters with the owner’s horses. Children gain confidence and skills through these activities.

Positive supportive relationships with parents. Parents spoken to during this review state that they appreciate the support provided by centre staff and the interest that teachers take in their children. Communication systems between the centre and parents are effective.

Areas for development and review

Montessori Children as learners. It is timely for teachers to review and revise the centre philosophy and to use this process to clarify their teaching role, especially at times when children are not involved in specificactivities. Teachers could ensure that they spend sufficient time observing children and determining how they could be best supported in the activities that they have chosen. Staff could give children more opportunities to make choices about how they spend their time and reduce the time that children spend in teacher-directed activities.

Assessment. Teachers are working on improving assessment practices. They are making links between observations and Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. They could now ensure that individual learning stories are completed more often and that they document ways in which teachers could further support the learning has been identified.

The centre timetable. The current centre programmes featuresmany timetabled activities. These frequent breaks in the day limit the length of time that children have to engage in any particular activity. Centre managers could consider how to give children more opportunities to follow their own interests. For example, mat times and the gymnastics programme could be optional activities that children choose to participate in, rather than timetabled activities for all children.

Behaviour management. Teachers do not consistently follow the centre’s policy on behaviour management. All teachers should ensure that their behaviour management techniques are positive and help children develop social awareness.

Enhancing the environment. The centre facilities are spacious and attractive. Children’s opportunities to enjoy their learning will be improved by teachers ensuring that:

  • children have increased access to the outdoor area;

  • all equipment is clean and in good repair;

  • resources for writing and painting are available at all times; and

  • portfolios, and photographic displays of children participating in the programme, are accessible to children.

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 two Māori children are enrolled in the centre.

Areas of strength

Creating an environment in which Māori feel welcome. Teachers are making good progress in incorporating te reo Māori and aspects of Māori culture into the programme. They use a variety of Māori phrases when talking with the children. Centre activities and some discussions with children and between staff are focused on aspects of Māori culture.

Relationships with whānau. Parents are made to feel welcome at the centre and staff are available to talk with them about their children. Family members of Māori children participate in aspects of the programme. The 2010 Christmas celebrations for the centre included karanga, hongi, and aspects of kapa haka.

Areas for development and review

Developing strategies. Centre managers should now develop specific and appropriate strategies to work with whānau of Māori children to support children’s transition into the centre, and their learning, and to enable parents/whānau to share their aspirations for their children with teachers.

4 Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Lillyput Montessori Pre-School 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:

  • 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.

5 Recommendation

ERO and the centre managers agree that teachers should review the centre philosophy to ensure that it promotes practice that is supportive of children as competent and capable learners.

6 Future Action

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

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

About the Centre

Type

Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998

Number licensed for

20 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Roll number

21

Gender composition

Boys 11

Girls 10

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā 10, Māori 2 South African 5, Asian 2, other 2

Review team on site

February 2011

Date of this report

12 April 2011

Previous three ERO reports

Education Review, March 2008

Education Review, November 2004

Accountability Review, March 1998

To the Parents and Community of Lillyput Montessori Pre-School

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Lillyput Montessori Pre-School.

Lillyput Montessori Pre-school is one of two Montessori centres located in an attractive, well maintained rural property in Whitford, Auckland. Children travel from a wide geographic area to attend the centre. The development of the Lillyput Montessori Pre-school grew out of requests from parents for a centre for children who were too young to attend Lilly’s Locker Montessori Pre-school.

The centre programme is based on the teaching approach developed by Maria Montessori. Teachers introduce children to Montessori activities when they consider them ready. Each activity has a prescribed outcome and uses specific equipment. Children choose activities and are provided with a quiet space and time to complete the task. The teacher demonstrates the activity and supports the child when necessary, encouraging self correction.

Because children at Lillyput are generally between birth and three years of age, not all children are involved in these activities and those who are begin with a short period of involvement. Children have good opportunities to develop social and practical skills. Teachers include te reo Māori in the programme and provide many opportunities for children to learn about the range of cultures represented at the centre by staff and children.

Teachers provide good opportunities for children to engage in conversations that develop their oral language. Children participate in horse riding and gymnastics lessons as appropriate to their age and levels of confidence.

the Some ofteaching practices observed at Lillyput are better suited to older children. The new head teacher should review the centre philosophy with parents and staff and identify ways of adapting teaching practice so that it better meets the developmental stages of the age group of children attending. Some changes could be made to centre routines so that they better meet the needs of the younger children. Teachers should develop ways of interacting with children to support their interests and dispositions more fully.

Future Action

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.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

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.