Acorn Early Learning Centre - 27/02/2012

 

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Acorn Early Learning Centre operates from a well resourced facility in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers. The centre continues to provide high quality all-day education and care for up to 80 preschool children.

Since ERO’s 2009 review, the centre has been relicensed and the licensee has restructured the management team. Greater leadership opportunities enable staff to strengthen collaborative teamwork and develop a shared understanding and ownership of centre practices. The licensee continues to be strongly committed to ongoing development and improvement.

Children are responsible and respectful. They engage in positive interactions with each other and with adults. They participate in sustained play and explore a wide range of activities and resources in a welcoming learning environment. Routines for younger children are flexible and unobtrusive. The changing interests and developmental needs of each child are reflected in all aspects of teachers’ practice.

A caring and inclusive culture is evident in the centre. Teachers’ interactions with children are caring and supportive. Staff are responsive to individual children, provide encouragement, and affirm successes. Whānau/parents are welcome in the centre. They are provided with regular information through children’s portfolios, newsletters, centre activities and, recently, online website access. The centre actively builds partnerships with parents and local community groups.

Teachers remain committed to providing a learning programme that is child-initiated and responsive to children’s interests and emergent ideas. Very good planning and assessment practices help teachers to build on children’s prior learning. Aspects of early literacy and numeracy concepts are skilfully integrated intoage-appropriate learning contexts. Teachers work collaboratively to help children develop as capable, competent learners.

The centre is well managed. The licensee has good administrative systems and procedures that promote and protect the health and safety of children and adults in the centre. Robust self-review processes are focused on improving outcomes for children. ERO and the centre managers agree that a focus on challenging and extending older children’s thinking should be a priority for further centre development.

Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Acorn Early Learning Centre was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the centre to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the management and staff. This discussion focused on existing information held by the centre (including self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to positive outcomes for children atAcorn Early Learning Centre.

All ERO education reviews in early childhood focus on the quality of education. For ERO this includes the quality of:

  • the programme provided for children
  • the learning environment
  • the interactions between children and adults.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

The Quality of Education

Background

Acorn Early Learning Centre operates in two separate areas. The Tui Room caters for children from 6 months to 2½ years of age. The Kiwi Room caters for children between 2½ and five years. Both rooms have separate, but adjacent, outdoor areas.

Since the 2009 ERO review a new management structure has been introduced to offer greater opportunities for shared leadership. The licensee has moved into a leadership role, responsible for the day to day operations of the centre. There is now a head teacher for each of the rooms. They provide leadership for the education and care of children in their room. Assistant head teacher positions have also been established to promote continuity and career pathways for staff.

The 2009 ERO report recommended development of programme planning and assessment practices, and stronger partnerships with parents. Very good progress has been made in both these areas.

Areas of strength

Respectful relationships. Children enjoy warm, positive relationships with adults and each other. They are respected as capable learners. Children interact with adults and play happily alongside each other. Teachers are skilful at building children’s social and interpersonal skills to enable them to co-operate in their play. Children and their families are welcomed in friendly and inclusive ways. Team work supports the development of a positive centre culture and good outcomes for children are clearly evident.

Early literacy development. Children are well supported to develop their early literacy understanding and skills. Children of all ages are provided with meaningful opportunities to explore the alphabet, and enjoy reading and writing with teachers, their peers, or independently. Writing materials are available at all times and books are placed in different learning areas.

Quality of care for infants and toddlers. Teachers provide high quality care that is responsive to the needs of individual children. They focus appropriately on children’s individual care and interact with children to support their play. These provisions for ensuring children’s physical and emotional wellbeing provide a good foundation for learning.

Transition to school. The preparation of children for school is well managed. The four year old programme challenges children’s thinking and integrates early literacy and numeracy skills in meaningful contexts. The older children become familiar with their future school and children’s passage to school is celebrated by all in the centre. Staff also give time to provide emotional support for children and their parents at this time of transition.

Programme planning. Teachers have developed effective planning and implementation practices. They provide responsive learning programmes appropriate for the different ages of the children. Good practices include programmes that originate from children’s emerging interests, individualised planning for younger children, and opportunities for older children to contribute to their own programme planning. Planning is well documented and evaluated. Attractive records of group and individual learning are available for children and families to revisit.

Learning environment. The learning environment is inviting and well resourced. Teachers skilfully create attractive areas of play for children’s exploration and discovery. Children are able to select resources independently and use them to support their play. Children of all ages have access to outdoor areas that allow for a range of engaging and challenging activities.

Fostering family/whānau connections. The licensee and teachers work collaboratively to foster partnerships with parents and whānau. Teachers know the children and their families well. Parents appreciate the support that the licensee and staff provide for them in their parenting roles. Parents express high trust in the staff. These positive relationships foster ongoing discussions and ultimately support children’s learning and development, both at home and in the centre.

Self review. The licensee has established systems for robust and regular self review. Parents are included in the self-review process. Programme evaluations show that teachers reflect on their practice with a view to improving outcomes for children. Staff are well placed to ensure continuous improvement in the centre.

Areas for development and review

Strengthening assessment practices. Teachers should continue to refine the practices they use for assessment. They could:

  • increase opportunities for children to assess and evaluate their learning

  • make more effective use of information provided by parents to extend children’s learning.

Building consistency in interactions that extend learning. Teachers should increase their focus on interactions that challenge and extend older children’s thinking in incidental and spontaneous play situations. Building consistency in the use of questions that assist children to clarify their understanding, and greater use of open-ended questions, will support children’s language development and contribute to their cognitive development.

3. Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Acorn Early Learning Centre completed an ERO CentreAssurance Statement andSelf-Audit Checklist. In these documents they have attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • administration
  • health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial and property management.

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records of recent use of procedures. ERO also checked elements of the following areas that have a potentially high impact on outcomes for children:

  • emotional safety (including behaviour management, prevention of bullying and abuse)
  • physical safety (including behaviour management, sleeping and supervision practices; accidents and medication; hygiene and routines; travel and excursion policies and procedures)
  • staff qualifications and organisation
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

4. Recommendations

ERO and the centre managers agree that staff should further improve their use of questioning to challenge and extend older children’s thinking.

5. Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

 

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

27 February 2012

About the Centre

Type

All Day Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

80 children, including up to 23 aged under 2

Roll number

121

Gender composition

Boys 54%, Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 73%, Māori 2%, Chinese 7%, British 5%, Italian 4%, Korean 3%, other ethnicities 6%

Review team on site

January 2012

Date of this report

27 February 2012

Previous ERO reports

 

Education Review, February 2009 Education Review, March 2006

 

 

To the Parents and Community of Acorn Early Learning Centre

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Acorn Early Learning Centre.

Acorn Early Learning Centre operates from a well resourced facility in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers. The centre continues to provide high quality all-day education and care for up to 80 preschool children.

Since ERO’s 2009 review, the centre has been relicensed and the licensee has restructured the management team. Greater leadership opportunities enable staff to strengthen collaborative teamwork and develop a shared understanding and ownership of centre practices. The licensee continues to be strongly committed to ongoing development and improvement.

Children are responsible and respectful. They engage in positive interactions with each other and with adults. They participate in sustained play and explore a wide range of activities and resources in a welcoming learning environment. Routines for younger children are flexible and unobtrusive. The changing interests and developmental needs of each child are reflected in all aspects of teachers’ practice.

A caring and inclusive culture is evident in the centre. Teachers’ interactions with children are caring and supportive. Staff are responsive to individual children, provide encouragement, and affirm successes. Whānau/parents are welcome in the centre. They are provided with regular information through children’s portfolios, newsletters, centre activities and, recently, online website access. The centre actively builds partnerships with parents and local community groups.

Teachers remain committed to providing a learning programme that is child-initiated and responsive to children’s interests and emergent ideas. Very good planning and assessment practices help teachers to build on children’s prior learning. Aspects of early literacy and numeracy concepts are skilfully integrated intoage-appropriate learning contexts. Teachers work collaboratively to help children develop as capable, competent learners.

The centre is well managed. The licensee has good administrative systems and procedures that promote and protect the health and safety of children and adults in the centre. Robust self-review processes are focused on improving outcomes for children. ERO and the centre managers agree that a focus on challenging and extending older children’s thinking should be a priority for further centre development.

Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

When ERO has reviewed an early childhood centre we encourage management to inform their community of any follow up action they plan to take. You should talk to the management or contact person if you have any questions about this evaluation, the full ERO report or their future intentions.

 

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT REVIEWS

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve quality of education for children in early childhood centres; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.

Reviews are intended to focus on outcomes for children and build on each centre’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting is based on four review strands.

Quality of Education – including the quality of the programme provided for children, the quality of the learning environment and the quality of the interactions between staff and children and how these impact on outcomes for children.

Additional Review Priorities – other aspects of the operation of a centre, may be included in the review. ERO will not include this strand in all reviews.

National Evaluation Topics – This strand contributes to the development of education policies and their effective implementation. The information from this strand is aggregated by ERO for its national evaluation reports. Topics for investigation are changed regularly to provide up-to-date information.

Compliance with Legal Requirements – assurance that this centre has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of centre performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to this centre.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a centre is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this centre.