Improving quality in early childhood services

ERO’s recent national evaluation reports highlight good practice and make recommendations in areas that services need to work on to improve quality. This is particularly in relation to assessment practice, self review and working with Māori children and their whānau.

In The Quality of Assessment in Early Childhood Education, ERO found that assessment practice in the sector was of variable quality. Good quality assessment was associated with:

  • services having processes and support structures
  • educators having a shared understanding of assessment and what it meant for practice
  • active and meaningful participation in assessment by children, parents, whānau and other educators.

To improve assessment practice ERO recommended that early childhood educators:

  • encourage and increase the genuine involvement of children, parents, whānau, and other educators in assessment of children’s learning and development
  • give children opportunities to revisit and reflect on their learning
  • identify what learning in their service is valued or privileged, and consider this in relation to the service philosophy and Te Whāriki
  • strengthen links between assessment and planning, focusing on interactions and teaching practice within the service
  • acknowledge and respond to the cultural background of children, and their parents and whānau.

ERO also recommended that managers in early childhood services:

  • provide guidance and expectations, both documented and articulated, about assessment to ensure shared understanding and continuity of practice amongst educators
  • strengthen assessment policies and processes to give educators a sound framework and rationale for assessment practice linked to service philosophy
  • provide targeted and ongoing high quality professional development, and appropriate non‑contact and meeting time, to enable educators to participate in professional discussions about assessment and children’s learning
  • undertake robust and rigorous self review of teaching and assessment practice to improve outcomes for children.

Implementing Self Review in Early Childhood Services, reported that in services where self review was well understood and implemented, it was integral to the operation of the service. In these services self review was guided by established and well understood procedures for purposeful gathering, analysis and use of information. The perspectives of managers, educators, children, parents, and whānau were included in self review and the findings used to inform improvement.

To improve the understanding and implementation of self review, ERO recommended that early childhood services:

  • improve processes for the gathering, analysis and use of information in self review
  • seek professional development to improve their understanding and implementation of self review
  • use existing Ministry of Education publications to increase their understanding of self review
  • use external review to complement their self review.

Success for Māori Children in Early Childhood Services, notes that services that were highly responsive to the aspirations and expectations of the parents and whānau of Māori children did this through their:

  • statement of philosophy
  • vision and strategic intent
  • relationships with parents and whānau
  • communication and consultation processes
  • self review.

Early childhood services focused on realising Māori children’s potential through their:

  • bicultural curriculum
  • teaching strategies
  • assessment practice
  • partnerships for learning.

To improve the way services work with Māori children and their whānau ERO recommended that they:

  • develop or review their processes for consulting and communicating with the parents and whānau of Māori children so they can be more responsive to their aspirations and expectations
  • consider how effectively they integrate Māori perspectives in planning, assessment and evaluation processes
  • provide professional development and support for managers and educators to increase their ability to work in partnership with the parents and whānau of Māori children
  • strengthen self review to enable robust evaluation of the impact of learning programmes for Māori children.