ABC Queenstown - 04/03/2016

1 Evaluation of ABC Queenstown

How well placed is ABC Queenstown 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

ABC Queenstown is owned and operated by the Best Start group. Children play and learn in a purpose-built building in central Queenstown.

Since the 2012 ERO review, there have been ongoing staff changes. A new centre manager, two head teachers and other staff have recently been appointed. About half of the teachers have early childhood qualifications and the others have a mix of primary teaching backgrounds, are in training or are untrained. The Best Start managers are seeking ways to reduce staff turnover and increase the number of qualified early childhood teachers.

The centre philosophy states the teachers’ commitment to helping children and their families develop a sense of belonging to the centre. It also emphasises valuing everyone’s diverse cultural backgrounds. The centre is an important point of social contact for many families.

The children are cared for in three distinct areas according to age and readiness. The centre has introduced a mixed-age programme for two-to-five year olds and changed the structure of the day. Infants and toddlers have separate care and play spaces. These have been purposefully planned to best meet the needs of these age groups.

There have been many recent and positive changes since the appointment of the new centre manager. These changes are in the early stages of being embedded.

The Review Findings

Children and their families enjoy caring and positive relationships with their teachers.

Children settle quickly on arrival and confidently approach their teachers. They have developed good friendships with each other. For infants and toddlers there is a particularly strong focus on nurturing relationships and knowing the children well.

Teachers work closely with families. They increasingly use ICT as a tool for sharing information and communicating with parents. They are beginning to develop partnerships for learning by gathering parents’ wishes for their children. The next step is to better document the ways they respond to these.

Children often make choices about what they want to do. Teachers are attuned to the needs and gestures of infant and toddlers and follow their prompts. Older children have increasing opportunities to choose where and when they play. They are encouraged to take increasing responsibility. For example, they choose when to eat, and help with food preparation.

The teachers are aware of the diverse cultures represented in the centre and are investigating ways to better acknowledge these. They are growing in their confidence in the use of te reo Māori and exploring Māori concepts. The centre has plans to strengthen the Māori dimension and ERO agrees this is a priority.

Teachers’ interactions with children could have a stronger focus on learning. For example, these could have a more deliberate focus on oral language development for children with English as a second language. Teachers should also explore ways to extend older children’s thinking and problem solving.

The daily programme is based on teachers noticing, recognising and responding to children’s strengths and interests. Children have access to a variety of indoor and outdoor experiences. The next step for leaders and teachers is to investigate the place of a rich early literacy, mathematics and bicultural curriculum. In the philosophy they should better identify the centre’s priorities for children’s learning.

Best Start managers and ERO have identified that records of group and individual planning, assessment and evaluation need a stronger focus on learning. These need to better detail the intended learning and the strategies teachers will use to support this.

Best Start managers visit the centre regularly and provide effective support for the centre manager, leaders and teachers. The new centre manager is building a positive team culture. She is setting clear expectations for teachers about how they will work and implementing systems for the smooth running of the centre. This includes the new appraisal system and some other improvements. The managers and leaders agree that internal review is an area to strengthen.

Useful priorities for development are included in the centre’s strategic plan. This could be extended to include other priorities such as the retention and recruitment of staff.

Key Next Steps

Best Start managers, leaders and ERO agree that the next steps are to:

  • extend and embed the centre’s philosophy across assessment planning and curriculum
  • strengthen teachers’ knowledge and implementation of effective planning, assessment and evaluation, including intended learning outcomes and teacher strategies
  • better document responses to parents' wishes about their involvement in their child's learning journey
  • deepen teachers’ understanding and implementation of the early childhood curriculum and interactions for learning
  • strengthen internal review.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of ABC Queenstown 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.

To improve current practice, centre leaders should strengthen documentation of risk management for outings.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of ABC Queenstown will be in three years.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

4 March 2016

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

Queenstown

Ministry of Education profile number

65156

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

71 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll

81

Gender composition

Boys: 51

Girls: 30

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Latin American

Other

5

59

6

11

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

January 2016

Date of this report

4 March 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Supplementary Review

September 2012

 

Education Review

June 2011

 

Education Review

March 2008

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.