Reach for the Stars Early Learning Centre - 29/11/2017

1 Evaluation of Reach for the Stars Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Reach for the Stars Early Learning Centre 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

Reach for the Stars Early Learning Centre in Mairangi Bay, provides for up to 85 children, with a maximum of 25 up to the age of two. Pākehā children make up half of the roll, Chinese children nearly a third, and there are also small groups of Māori, Indian and Filipino children.

The centre was relicensed in February 2017, after several name and ownership changes since ERO's 2013 review. The new owners are actively involved in the centre's management and with children's learning. They work with a centre manager and a team of well qualified teachers, and families/whānau. There are team leaders in the preschool and under 2's rooms. The manager is currently acting team leader in the toddlers' room. A cook provides meals for children.

The centre's philosophy includes a focus on encouraging children to be active explorers and independent learners in a stimulating, nurturing environment. Centre practices are inspired by both the Reggio Emilia and Magda Gerber philosophical approaches.

The Review Findings

The owners have made significant improvements. As a priority, they have focused on establishing good relationships and communications with whānau and a sense of team amongst staff. They promote inclusion, wellbeing and belonging.

New developments and practices have focused on improving outcomes for children and their families. They have been guided by a clear centre vision, and informed by careful evaluation and external support. Developments this year include:

  • improvements in the outdoor learning environment, and the quality and quantity of resources available to support children's learning

  • a deliberate focus on strengthening bicultural practices in the centre

  • the use of digital technologies and social media to record children's learning, and communicate with families

  • creating a more nutritious and varied menu for children's meals

  • establishing connections with local community organisations.

Very good practices provide support for infants' wellbeing, growing independence and language development. The team could now make use of existing good models to review and strengthen environments and routines for toddlers.

Programmes are underpinned by teachers' knowledge of children's interests and strengths, and regular programme evaluation. Children's individual portfolios record programme topics and children's engagement. Infants' portfolios in particular, record their individual learning progress.

Extensive professional learning and mentoring has helped owners and staff to build their knowledge of good practice in early childhood education. Staff are encouraged to take on leadership roles, and meaningful performance appraisal helps them to identify goals for improvement. Teachers' self-reflection and professional learning are having a positive impact on their practice and on outcomes for children.

The owners have established strategic and annual plans to guide ongoing improvement. They have developed an extensive range of policies and useful systems to ensure that all licensing requirements are met. Ongoing internal evaluation, and a focus on their role in facilitating learning, will help teaching teams to refine new policies and procedures, strengthen teaching practices and improve centre environments.

Key Next Steps

Managers agree that next steps include:

  • building teachers' capability in extending children's learning, through children's interests and the integration of literacy and numeracy in the context of play

  • focusing internal evaluation more specifically on the effectiveness of teaching practices and outcomes for children

  • increasing parents' contributions in portfolios, and focusing these assessment records and programme evaluations more clearly on individual children's learning and progress

  • establishing strategic goals for further development of bicultural and culturally responsive practices

  • aligning appraisal processes with Education Council requirements.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Reach for the Stars Early Learning Centre 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 Reach for the Stars Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

29 November 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

Mairangi Bay, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

20243

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

85 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll

63

Gender composition

Boys 33 Girls 30

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Chinese
Filipino
Indian

4
33
18
4
4

Percentage of qualified teachers

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

1:4

Better than minimum requirements

Over 2

1:8

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

29 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

First report as Reach for the Stars Early Learning Centre

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.