Exemplar Review - Papatoetoe Kindergarten - June 2018

Background

Introduction

Under Part 28 of the Education Act 1989 the Chief Review Officer has the power to administer reviews either general or relating to particular matters, of the performance of applicable (pre-tertiary) organisations in relation to the applicable services they provide, and prepare reports on the undertaking and results of such reviews.

An exemplar report may be produced when ERO finds an organisation demonstrates effective practice in relation to specific aspects of performance.

Effective Practice: Responding to cultural and language diversity

ERO reviewed Papatoetoe Kindergarten as part of our Responding to Language Diversity in Auckland project. The evaluation investigated how early learning services and schools in Auckland responded to increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in their learning community. 

In particular, ERO reviewed the performance of selected schools and early learning services, in relation to the following questions:

  • how well are Auckland early learning services and schools responding to the increase in culturally and linguistically diverselearners?

  • what are the effective practices of Auckland services and schools’ responses to the challenges and opportunities for these learners?

Context: Diverse New Zealand

Increasingly diverse communities are evident throughout New Zealand. Auckland is New Zealand’s most culturally diverse city, with over 100 ethnicities and more than 150 languages spoken on a daily basis. Thirtynine percent of Auckland residents were born outside of New Zealand and 51 percent of Auckland’s population are multilingual. The learner population in Auckland and New Zealand is rapidly becoming heterogeneous, as is evident through the diversity of learners’ ethnicity, language, heritage, and immigration status.

Linguistic diversity is a facet of a larger cultural diversity. ‘Culturally and linguistically diverse learners’ refers to learners whose home language is a language other than English, who are second language learners, have limited English proficiency, are bilingual, language minority learners, and mainstream dialect speakers. As such, culturally and linguistically diverse learners include English language learners, a term used specifically in the context of English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision.

This evaluation focused on culturally and linguistically diverse learners who speak one or more languages other than English, and are learning the English language. Positive interactions with cultural and linguistically diverse learners and their families can help teachers and other learners to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes that equip them to live in a world of diverse languages and cultures.

ERO talked with the leaders, teachers and learners of the selected services and schools. They all celebrated diversity and saw it as an opportunity for everyone to learn. By investigating effective practice in these settings ERO wanted to find out:

  • how these leaders and teachers got to know their learners

  • how leaders and teachers responded to learners’ language learning priorities

  • how parents, whānau, teachers and leaders supported learning

  • how services and schools monitored learners’ progress and internally evaluated their practice to make further improvements. 

Exemplar: Papatoetoe Kindergarten – multilingual teacher aides supporting learners and whānau as partners in learning

Papatoetoe Kindergarten is licensed for forty children from three to five years of age. Children are from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, and onethird of the learners at this kindergarten are Māori and Pacific children. The centre provides an onsite room for the English Language Partners (ELP) to use.

This exemplar is about how the service supported parents to maintain the use of their home language with their children and partnered with community groups to support parents’ learning.

We noticed increasing enrolments from Hindi, Punjabi and Mandarin speaking children. We wanted to support them to maintain their home language, and support their parents to engage in their child’s learning in their home language.”(Head teacher)

Through a grant from Auckland Airport Community Trust, the service employed fluent Hindi and Punjabi speaking teacher aides. They translated newsletters, learning stories and educational concepts to help parents and whānau support their children’s learning. Parents were encouraged to comment or provide feedback in their home language.

Teacher aides also supported the learner’s transition to school by acting as a translator between the parents and the school, helping parents fill in enrolment forms, and sharing information with parents on how to support their children’s learning at home.

The head teacher spoke to English Language Partners about support for the parents of Mandarin speaking children. The ELP programme provided ESOL classes for 10 hours a week for parents, and bilingual assistance for those who need it. They also helped to identify essential support services for parents such as WINZ and Red Cross.

I only speak Punjabi to my children at home and they learn to speak English at the centre. When I was looking for a centre to enrol my children, it was difficult to find one that valued my language. Most centres I visited said that they only speak English. Here, it’s not a problem my children can speak in Punjabi because teachers here can speak the language. I can come and share food and other information about my culture and the children understand it, and they hear and see it from my own children. Now the centre manager has asked me to help to translate children’s learning stories and parent newsletters into Punjabi.(Punjabi parent)

Other parents also value and appreciate the languages shared in the centre. One Māori parent said, “I love it that my child is exposed to different languages.”

I feel supported here – we looked at other centres but they only speak English, and they told us that they only speak English. I don’t want that – I speak to my children in Tongan at home.(Tongan parent)

Papatoetoe Kindergarten found the use of elearning portfolios enhanced parent and whānau engagement in their children’s learning, and strengthened homeservice communication.  Learning stories were translated into home languages. Parents found the online elearning portfolio helped:

  • them to support their child’s learning at home in their home language

  • overseas-based whānau and friends to see, comment and engage in their child’s learning

  • parents and teachers to provide quick feedback or updates.

My son loves singing Indian songs. Having access to this tool helps him and us to learn the songs at home”.(Parent)

When the children and their families are travelling, they can send us information about what they’re doing which we can share with the other learners”.(Teacher)

Why is this exemplar important?

Valuing linguistic diversity sets the tone for also valuing other forms of diversity, and gives all learners the opportunity to learn more about each other and experience cultural differences (Smith, 2004). 

Culturally and linguistically diverse learners are likely to make faster progress when they are encouraged to process ideas in their home language, and have access to bilingual support, especially in the early phases of learning English. In responsive early learning services and schools, every teacher is a language teacher.

The communities in this service were diverse in culture, language, experience, aspirations, and immigration status, yet they all valued education and had high expectations for their children. 

Leaders shared their communities’ vision and expectations for cultural and linguistic diverse learners. Leaders appointed bilingual or multilingual teachers who spoke the learner’s home language, and encouraged them to use it in their teaching practice. This approach helped build relational trust.

Parents and other adults from the learner’s community spoke in their home languages when they were at the centre or participated in centre activities. Teachers designed a curriculum that was connected to the learners’ interests and strengths, and supported the rich and sustained use of the learners’ home languages.

Leaders and teachers believed it was important to maintain the learners’ home languages, as it nurtured each learner’s identity and helped them to develop a sense of belonging. They created a learning environment that reflected the learners’ home languages. Cultural displays, resources and general information in the learners’ home languages were evident.

Recommendations for system improvement

ERO’s evaluation found that at a minimum, all services and schools should consider placing emphasis on the following:

  • understanding the changing demographics in their learning community and responding strategically

  • getting to know culturally diverse learners, their interests, strengths, and learning priorities

  • providing environments where culturally diverse learners and their parents feel safe and comfortable to share their knowledge and experiences

  • developing a curriculum that better responds to culturally diverse learners’ strengths and interests

  • strengthening the curriculum by integrating culturally diverse learners’ languages and cultures, and local Māori knowledge 

  • plan and implement teaching strategies appropriate for supporting cultural diversity and English language learning 

  • aim to build a diverse knowledge base for every teacher, with desired competencies in second language acquisition theory and development, understanding the relationship between language and culture, and an increased ability to affirm the culture of the learners

  • building teachers’ capacity to identify, monitor and report on the learner’s progress using relevant tools

  • providing appropriate levels of inclass support to ensure academic rigour and challenge

  • improving the quality of interactions with learners, particularly in large groups

  • carefully planning transitions, making sure learners have a contact person who is known to them, their parents and teachers. 

Diana Anderson

Deputy Chief Executive Evaluation and Policy

On behalf of the Chief Executive / Chief Review Officer

7 June 2018