Newstead Country Preschool - 14/01/2016

1 Evaluation of Newstead Country Preschool

How well placed is Newstead Country Preschool 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

Newstead Country Preschool is a privately owned, purpose-built early childhood centre located in a spacious and attractively-presented farm setting near Hamilton City.

The centre is licensed to care for 37 children including 15 children under two years of age in three adjacent, age-based areas. At the time of this ERO review there were 50 children enrolled, including 7 identified as Māori. The management team remains committed to employing qualified early childhood teachers and maintaining adult-to-child ratios that are above licensing requirements.

Since the ERO review in 2012 the centre has come under new ownership. The new owner has a long-standing and close relationship with the centre and staff. This has contributed to a smooth transition and continuity for children and their families. The centre manager has been in her position for many years and works in a positive partnership with the new owner. Teaching staff is largely the same since 2012, with a number of student teachers spending time in the centre as part of their pre-service training.

Good progress has been made with the areas for development identified in the 2012 ERO report related to improving strategic and annual planning, self review and programme planning. While some positive changes to the appraisal system have been made, there continues to be a need to strengthen performance management systems and processes. Teachers participated in ongoing professional development in 2014 to build their understanding of self review, assessment, planning and evaluation. There have been a number of improvements and upgrades to buildings and grounds that have enhanced teaching and learning outcomes for children and adults.

The centre philosophy aims to ‘offer quality experiences that foster children’s learning and help them develop into confident and competent akonga.’

The Review Findings

Newstead Country Preschool is well placed to promote positive outcomes for children and their families and whānau. Children are confident and active explorers from an early age. They enjoy an outstanding natural environment for regular walks to bush, farmland, gardens and places of local interest. Teachers are calm and unhurried as they foster children’s curiosity in discovering the natural world around them.

Children demonstrate courage and resilience as they learn to manage challenges in the environment. They are imaginative in their play and encouraged to take on dramatic roles during daily walks to places of their choice. Boys and active learners are highly engaged as they adventure in wide open spaces. Many pets and farm animals present children with opportunities to learn about caring for animals, animal husbandry and life cycles in meaningful contexts. Planting and harvesting fresh food from the centre gardens is an important part of the centre programme. Children express themselves creatively through the arts and have acquired many skills in drawing, painting, pottery and dramatic play. Adults are respectful and appreciative of children’s artworks as they build children’s knowledge and skills in using a variety of media competently.

There is an appropriate emphasis on literacy learning and number knowledge. Children and teachers read together, take time to share songs and finger plays, both spontaneously and during set mat times. Older children are encouraged to write stories, design and build projects, and participate in improving the environment with ideas and constructions of their own. They are respectful of younger children and show leadership and responsibility in their interactions with them. Children are developing high levels of social, physical and intellectual skills as they near school age.

Children have well-presented, individual learning portfolios that record aspects of their participation in the programme. These portfolios enable children to revisit their learning and share it with teachers, friends and family. In addition, teachers have recently introduced e-portfolios to share children’s learning with parents and extended families. Parents expressed appreciation for the ease with which they can share in their children’s learning journey, and contribute their ideas and perspectives using technology in this way. There would be benefit in reviewing children’s portfolios. This review should include:

  • developing and documenting shared and agreed expectations for high quality learning portfolios
  • clearly identifying the language, culture and identity of each child in the context of their family
  • annotating samples of children’s artwork to show their relevance to the child’s learning and development.

Children under two years and toddlers benefit from the nurturing and responsive practice of their teachers. They demonstrate high levels of wellbeing as they learn and play in a settled, calm and interesting environment. Children’s sense of wellbeing is enhanced through well-planned transitions undertaken at children’s own pace. Daily communication between parents and teachers maintains familiar routines for children. Centre leaders place priority on regularly surveying and responding to parent’s ideas and aspirations for their children.

Māori children and their whānau are affirmed in their culture. They benefit from:

  • a strong sense of whanaungatanga, established and maintained over many years
  • close contact with Papatūānuku and the natural world
  • te reo Māori used in meaningful contexts
  • sharing waiata together
  • respect for tikanga Māori practices
  • regular celebrations such as Matariki and kapahaka.

Consideration should now be given to the ways the centre will further implement the principles of Ka Hikitia. Strengthening the performance management system by including aspects of Tātaiako is likely to continue to build teachers’ and leaders’ understanding about culturally responsive practices. Consultation with knowledgeable whānau is now important for continued development of a programme that promotes success for Māori as Maori.

The multi-cultural teaching team is well qualified and professional. Teachers use their different languages and knowledge to enrich the programme and respond to the needs of children and families. Over a number of years they have established strong and meaningful partnerships with families and each other. They consistently model positive and collegial interactions, share humour and express genuine enjoyment of working together.

Teachers meet regularly to plan the programme and reflect on their practice. They are enthusiastic about participating in regular and relevant professional learning opportunities, both as individuals and as a team. Teachers expressed appreciation for the opportunities they have to share in leadership and decision-making in centre operations.

A next step in building reflective practice would be for teachers to document the outcomes of planning for individuals and groups of children. This should enable them to measure the effectiveness of their practice.

The experienced centre manager maintains consistency of leadership for the centre. She models good practice and provides teachers with regular and meaningful feedback about their practice. The appraisal system needs to be strengthened by linking shared and agreed criteria for best practice to better inform targeted feedback for teachers.

The new centre owner works in a professional and positive partnership with the centre manager. Together they model the commitment and enjoyment they share in providing good quality outcomes for children, their families and whānau. The centre owner is proactive in seeking external advice as she develops her knowledge of governance in the early childhood sector. A good understanding of self review has resulted in useful frameworks to guide ongoing centre development and improvement. Ongoing professional development will support her to continue to build her understanding of governance roles and responsibilities.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Newstead Country Preschool 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 Newstead Country Preschool will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

14 January 2016

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

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

30020

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

37 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll

50

Gender composition

Boys 25 Girls 25

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Other European

Chinese

Cook Island Māori

Indian

South East Asian

7

37

2

1

1

1

1

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

1:3

Better than minimum requirements

 

Over 2

1:6

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

14 January 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2012

 

Education Review

February 2010

 

Education Review

March 2007

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.