Methodology

ERO’s framework for evaluation

ERO gathered information during regular education reviews in services during Terms 3 and 4, 2011. Where children with moderate to severe special needs were currently enrolled, reviewers collected information in response to the following key questions:

  • How well do transitions ensure the continuing wellbeing, learning, and development of children with moderate to severe special needs?
  • To what extent are children with moderate to severe special needs supported to be confident and capable learners?
  • How inclusive is the service of children with moderate to severe special needs?

Appendix One includes investigative prompts used in the evaluation, which may be used for services’ own self review.

In services where no children with moderate to severe special needs were currently enrolled, ERO asked whether these services had previously enrolled children with special needs, or been asked to do so but had not. When services had previously enrolled or been asked to enrol children with moderate to severe special needs, ERO asked managers and educators about their successes and/or challenges. Where they had not been asked to enrol children with special needs previously, ERO talked with managers and educators to determine how well placed the service was to be inclusive if asked to do so in the future.

ERO also asked Special Education staff and advocates from disability action groups to comment on anecdotal evidence they had received from parents about their children’s inclusion in services. They were asked to comment on the following:

  • information about services saying they cannot enrol a child with special needs
  • limits placed on attendance by children with special needs
  • parents’ involvement in planning for their child’s learning at the service
  • the inclusion of children with special needs by other parents and children and the development of positive relationships.

Data collection

During each service’s review, ERO collected information from a variety of sources including:

  • discussions with managers and educators at the service
  • informal discussions with parents, whānau and aiga of children with moderate to severe special needs
  • observations of interactions between parents, whānau and aiga of children with moderate to severe special needs and educators
  • documentation related to the operation of the service and to the learning of children with moderate to severe special needs.

Data for this evaluation was gathered from 268 services reviewed in Terms 3 and 4, 2011. More information about the sample is in Appendix Two. All data was collected by ERO review officers in the normal course of their review activities. ERO’s Approach to Reviews in Early Childhood Services (Draft) 2012 sets out the process for education reviews.[25]

The term ‘educator’ as used in this report includes teachers (qualified and registered) and parent educators. ERO’s evaluation focused on children with moderate to severe special needs and this group of children are mostly, referred to as children with special needs in this report.