Sherwood Playcentre - 05/05/2010

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Sherwood Playcentre, in a residential area of Whangarei, is a well established centre that operates as a parent cooperative. The centre is open for two sessions a week and is part of the Northland Playcentre Association. The Association provides a comprehensive adult education programme for families attending the centre, and a framework of policies and procedures and personnel to support centre members.

The centre has a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere and an attractive and well resourced learning environment. Children are happy, confident and secure in a mixed age group. Warm, respectful and trusting relationships are a feature of the centre. Parents and whānau affirm children’s ideas, invite children to join in groups, and offer new experiences. Centre members show a strong commitment to the Playcentre philosophy and to the co-operative management of the centre. They support each other in the parenting and education of their children. Children and adults play and enjoy learning together.

Parents/whānau foster oral language development by engaging children in sustained conversations and frequently reading and singing with children. Some more experienced adults encourage children to problem solve and negotiate. Children use writing and numbers in play. Their understanding of natural science and care for the environment is fostered. Centre members’ next challenge is to build on children’s sense of curiosity and enthusiasm for learning by increasing the complexity of child led learning.

Children engage in a good quality educational programme that fosters their growing sense of being confident and capable learners. Centre displays reflect the value that members place on documenting children’s progress and learning. Programme planning is informed by children’s interests. Parents/whānau are aware that their end of session evaluation process could be further developed so that it is more useful in supporting children’s learning.

Centre members have established good processes of self review. They make ongoing improvements and agree that some aspects of self review could be further developed. ERO recommends that centre members continue to develop long-term plans with goals that focus on outcomes for children.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the members of Sherwood Playcentre were 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 centre members 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 atSherwood Playcentre.

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

Sherwood Playcentre is a well established centre that operates as a parent cooperative. The programme and centre practices are based on Playcentre philosophy, which promotes families learning and growing together. The centre is open for two sessions per week and caters for children from birth to school age.

Since the ERO 2007 report the centre has continued to increase its membership and roll. Health and safety issues identified by ERO have been addressed and there has been a focus on fostering emergent leadership and trialling new assessment and planning processes. Members have continued to encourage and support each other to participate in Playcentre parent education programmes.

Areas of good performance

Relationships. Warm, caring relationships contribute to the welcoming and inclusive tone of the centre. Friendships between children are evident and parents work together co-operatively, supporting children to learn as part of a group. Experienced members share their knowledge with, and explain centre expectations to, newer members. Children enjoy playing sociably with peers of mixed ages. Parents/whānau are aware of children’s individual preferences and consistently affirm and assist children as appropriate. Children’s emotional wellbeing is nurtured and their families’ sense of belonging in the centre is promoted.

Philosophy in practice. The Playcentre philosophy of parents/whānau and children learning together is reflected in programme implementation. Adults share ideas and support each other in their parenting and educator roles and manage the administration of the centre effectively. The active role of parents and whānau in their children’s education is supported by Playcentre adult education programmes. Association support and personnel are highly regarded by centre members and their input is appreciated.

Confident learners. Children’s play is valued as meaningful learning and is actively supported. Centre members implement a good quality educational programme. Children’s enthusiasm and confidence for learning is fostered through:

  • art, construction and messy play that nurtures their creativity;
  • numeracy, literacy and science concepts being frequently integrated into meaningful contexts;
  • a well resourced environment that supports children to learn through play and exploration;
  • adults’ responsiveness to children’s ideas; and
  • adults engaging children in sustained conversations and encouraging them to engage other children in conversation in social and imaginative play situations.

Assessment informs planning. Centre members have developed programme planning that is meaningful and useful in guiding the programme. They are enthusiastic and skilled at compiling assessment documentation that records what they notice and the ways in which they respond to children’s play interests. Displays of learning stories show children’s progress and enable families to refer to and share past experiences. Children’s assessment portfolios contain attractive records of children’s learning and development. A variety of adults contribute to the portfolios, which are valued by parents/whānau.

Self review. Good systems of self review support the positive approach that parents/whānau have to ensuring continuous improvement. They use a variety of review processes to reflect on the quality of the programme. Centre meetings and events are well attended and documented. Information is displayed so that all members are kept informed. Association personnel make regular visits to support members in meeting expectations in relation to policy review, training, equipment and property. All members are encouraged to be part of decision-making processes to improve outcomes for children.

Biculturalism. Centre members’ respect for Māori language and culture are embedded in the centre’s programme and practices. Adults frequently include te reo Māori in their conversations with children. Māori perspectives are reflected in the art, music, books and resources that are available to the children. Displays support growing familiarity with, and use of, words, phrases and waiata in te reo Māori. Appropriate use of natural resources, and care for the natural environment, also reflect values of Māori culture. These good practices affirm the cultural identity of Māori and encourage all children to develop an understanding of the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Areas for development and review

Provision for older children. Centre members could review their current provision for older children and consider ways of increasing challenge and complexity in learning opportunities. Improvements could include:

  • extending child-led learning, and fostering the development of problem-solving, negotiation and higher level thinking skills in play situations;
  • increasing children’s independent access to writing materials and print in all areas of the centre;
  • considering how children could use information and communication technologies (ICT) to enrich their play; and
  • making better use of daily session evaluations to share and extend children’s interests for future sessions.

These developments would build on and complement children’s sense of curiosity and their enthusiasm for learning and would strengthen continuity between sessions.

Self review. Centre members are aware that they could enhance existing processes for self review. Review processes would be more robust if the rationale for the review was documented, as well as the findings of reviews. Parents/whānau should continue to build on their current long-term plans to ensure that they cover all areas of the programme and the centre environment and identify areas for improvement.

Documentation of planning and self review. Centre members could link strategic planning to an annual plan that includes priorities and objectives for the coming year. Improved documentation of planning and self review would assist new members and incoming office holders to understand centre operations, enable them to celebrate achievements, and would provide a framework to guide further reflection and improvement.

3. National Evaluation Topics

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.

Literacy Teaching and Learning

When children understand, enjoy, engage with, and use language and symbols they are better able to express their individual identity and become active participants in a literate society. As part of this review ERO looked at literacy practices, particularly the opportunities provided for children to develop strong literacy learning foundations.

In this service, children’s literacy learning opportunities include:

  • adults singing with children, modelling the rhythm and patterns of language;
  • children sharing books with peers and adults;
  • sustained conversations between children and adults in play and social situations;
  • a print-rich environment with learning stories readily accessible to children;
  • numerous opportunities to draw and paint independently;
  • adults recording children’s stories about their drawings;
  • adults developing children’s awareness of letter sounds and shapes; and
  • affirmation of Māori oral traditions, such as karakia and waiata.

Parents/whānau provide good support for children to develop enthusiasm and confidence in using oral, visual and written literacy for a variety of purposes.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the centre members of Sherwood Playcentre completed an ERO Centre Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they have attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • administration;
  • health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management;
  • 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.

ERO’s investigations during the course of the review did not identify any areas of concern.

4. Recommendations

ERO and the centre members agreed that centre members should continue to develop long-term plans and goals that focus on ongoing improvement and use this planning to further improve systems for self review.

5. Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

About the Centre

Type

Playcentre

Number licensed for

29 children, including up to 13 aged under 2

Roll number

21

Gender composition

Girls 11

Boys 10

Ethnic composition

New Zealand/Pākehā 13

Māori 4

South African 3

Russian 1

Review team on site

March 2010

Date of this report

5 May 2010

Previous ERO reports

Education Review, May 2007

Education Review, June 2004

Accountability Review, December 1999

To the Parents and Community of Sherwood Playcentre

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Sherwood Playcentre.

Sherwood Playcentre, in a residential area of Whangarei, is a well established centre that operates as a parent cooperative. The centre is open for two sessions a week and is part of the Northland Playcentre Association. The Association provides a comprehensive adult education programme for families attending the centre, and a framework of policies and procedures and personnel to support centre members.

The centre has a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere and an attractive and well resourced learning environment. Children are happy, confident and secure in a mixed age group. Warm, respectful and trusting relationships are a feature of the centre. Parents and whānau affirm children’s ideas, invite children to join in groups, and offer new experiences. Centre members show a strong commitment to the Playcentre philosophy and to the co-operative management of the centre. They support each other in the parenting and education of their children. Children and adults play and enjoy learning together.

Parents/whānau foster oral language development by engaging children in sustained conversations and frequently reading and singing with children. Some more experienced adults encourage children to problem solve and negotiate. Children use writing and numbers in play. Their understanding of natural science and care for the environment is fostered. Centre members’ next challenge is to build on children’s sense of curiosity and enthusiasm for learning by increasing the complexity of child led learning.

Children engage in a good quality educational programme that fosters their growing sense of being confident and capable learners. Centre displays reflect the value that members place on documenting children’s progress and learning. Programme planning is informed by children’s interests. Parents/whānau are aware that their end of session evaluation process could be further developed so that it is more useful in supporting children’s learning.

Centre members have established good processes of self review. They make ongoing improvements and agree that some aspects of self review could be further developed. ERO recommends that centre members continue to develop long-term plans with goals that focus on outcomes for children.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore 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 contribute 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.