Topkids Lemon - 15/02/2018

1 Evaluation of Topkids Lemon

How well placed is Topkids Lemon 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

Topkids Lemon is in central New Plymouth. The service provides all-day education and care for up to 70 children, including 25 aged up to two years. One-third of children enrolled are Māori.

BestStart Educare Ltd (BestStart) provides overall strategic direction and systems to guide centre operation. A professional services manager and business manager regularly liaise with teaching staff. The centre manager is supported by two head teachers.

Staff and learning spaces have recently been restructured, in consultation with families, into two age-related groups. Infants and toddlers transition into the young children's section between the ages of two and three years, according to the needs and preferences of children and their families.

The service philosophy emphasises respect, joy, resilience and courage.

Areas for development identified in the April 2014 ERO report have been progressed.

The Review Findings

Children confidently engage in a stimulating play-based curriculum. The well-resourced environment has been thoughtfully designed to support children’s independent exploration and discovery. A good range of natural resources and open-ended outdoor equipment provides children with opportunities to challenge themselves and take risks.

Teaching interactions are warm and respectful. Staff work alongside children, engaging them in conversation and supporting their play. Teachers closely observe children's interests and thoughtfully provide resources and experiences in response. Engaging neighbourhood excursions and cultural events extend the curriculum and support children’s sense of place and belonging. Strategies are used to effectively build children’s social competence. Teachers liaise with parents and outside agencies, as appropriate, to support the learning and wellbeing of children with diverse needs.

A responsive infant and toddler curriculum is supportive of children’s engagement and learning. Care routines are flexible to meet children’s individual needs and preferences. These are maximised as opportunities to build relationships. Teachers maintain a calm, slow pace in their interactions, and encourage the free movement and exploration of very young learners.

The bicultural programme is a centre strength. Teachers demonstrate high levels of commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Bicultural perspectives, tikanga me te reo Māori are meaningfully embedded throughout the programme. Children benefit from regular waiata and kapa haka sessions, in collaboration with local iwi and marae, and the development of a curriculum that reflects the local community.

Teachers and BestStart have identified that assessment, planning and evaluation practices need strengthening. Improvements are underway. This review should include consideration of:

  • planning individualised, challenging teaching strategies
  • using parent aspirations to inform strategies, planning and assessment.

Strong relationships with parents and whānau are prioritised by teachers. Teachers acknowledge the need to build their understanding of fostering educational success for Māori and for children of Pacific heritage. Growing learning partnerships, where families effectively contribute to the curriculum, should allow teachers to better respond to children’s culture, language and identity.

Children have regular opportunities to interact with their older and younger peers. Flexible,
well-considered processes promote children’s wellbeing when transitioning into the centre and between age groups. They have the option of transitioning in groups with friends, further promoting a sense of familiarity.

Teachers have built purposeful relationships with local school staff. A number of useful
transition-to-school approaches are in place, which will be reviewed in 2018. This review should include consideration of strategies, aligned with current research, to build the confidence of children and parents at these times.

The service and BestStart are currently redeveloping their internal evaluation practices. ERO affirms this direction. Future evaluations should be more strongly focused on measuring and monitoring the impact of practices on outcomes for children.

Distributed leadership is evident. Leaders and teachers regularly share and discuss professional learning. Leaders have successfully built a positive team culture.

Robust systems are in place to mentor, develop and appraise staff. Teachers are well supported to grow their practice. They have regular opportunities to participate in professional learning. Leaders and ERO agree that appraisals should include more targeted appraisal goals and teacher inquiries, focused on the impact of teaching practices on children’s learning outcomes.

BestStart policies, guiding documents and monitoring systems promote consistent practice. Regional managers are responsive. They regularly liaise with centre managers and teaching staff, with a clear and effective focus on teaching and learning. Teachers are well supported, and appropriately challenged, to continually strengthen their practice. 

Key Next Steps

Beststart, the service and ERO agree that priority should be given to:

  • strengthening assessment, planning and evaluation
  • building responsiveness to children’s culture, language and identity, including Māori and Pacific learners.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Topkids Lemon 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 Topkids Lemon will be in three years.

Alan Wynyard
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

15 February 2018 

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

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

50508

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

70 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll

91

Gender composition

Boys 54, Girls 37

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Other ethnic groups

28
53
10

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates

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

December 2017

Date of this report

15 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2014

Education Review

April 2011

Education Review

June 2005

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.