Adventure Kindergarten - 21/06/2012

1 The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Adventure Kindergarten is affiliated to the Wellington Region Free Kindergarten Association (the association). The association has a governing board and a general manager. The general manager is the licensed service provider contact person for the kindergarten. The association employs a team of senior teachers, one of whom is responsible for leading the professional support, advice and guidance to this teaching team. She also liaises with the kindergarten community.

The attractive building and grounds are spacious and well maintained. Significant development has recently occurred to the outdoor environment with further plans in place for the inside. The interesting designs and features form a variety of spaces for creative expression, physical pursuits, transitions and quiet reflection. It is richly resourced to support children’s play and learning. An underlying focus on gardening fosters children’s connectedness to nature. This provides a context for authentic and meaningful experiences and promotes respect for the environment and living things. The parent community regularly contribute to the programme and kindergarten events.

Children benefit from the inclusive programme that is child focused, offers choice and is responsive to their interests. They are involved in genuine tasks and able to plan and follow through on their ideas. Early literacy and mathematical learning are well integrated and digital technologies increasingly utilised. Bicultural understandings are being developed through participation in weekly kapa haka and inclusion of te reo Māori and other cultural protocols. The teaching philosophy is clearly evident in practice and forms a sound foundation for the programme.

Children are cooperative and caring. They listen to each other and show empathy for their peers. They are developing their social competence and resilience in a variety of situations. Teachers are positive and calm. They are good language models and use accurate terminology and sophisticated vocabulary in meaningful conversations with children. They listen intently to children’s ideas and contributions and use questions effectively to sustain dialogue and promote thinking.

Well-established relationships exist with the staff at the adjacent primary school. A transition programme run by the school is in place for children to become familiar with this environment, its curriculum and routines.

The teaching team agrees that robust, planned self review as a tool for improvement requires strengthening. Some aspects of assessment, planning and evaluation are also areas for further 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 Adventure Kindergarten 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 at Adventure Kindergarten.

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; and
  • the interactions between children and adults.

In addition, ERO decided to evaluate:

  • association support

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

The Quality of Education

Background

The 2008 ERO review noted that the daily programme was soundly based on children’s interests within a rich core curriculum. Assessment, evaluation and self review practices and te reo me ngā tikanga Māori were areas identified as requiring strengthening.

Since 2008 there have been three different head teachers and several changes in the teaching and administrative staff. The current team has been working together since the end of 2011 with all positions becoming permanent in March 2012. They have developed their teaching philosophy and introduced new systems and processes to provide shared understandings, responsibilities and the foundations for working together. During 2011 the kindergarten raised significant funds to improve the outdoor environment.

The kindergarten operating hours have been reorganised to offer three different options for families. Older children enrol for either three full days a week or for five mornings. The younger ones attend two morning sessions each week.

Areas of strength

Programme. Children benefit from their participation in an inclusive programme that is child focused, offers choice and is responsive to their interests. Early literacy and mathematical learning are well integrated. Information and communication technologies enable children to research to increase their knowledge and understandings and revisit experiences. Bicultural practices are increasingly being incorporated into the programme. Community engagement and support is high. The teaching philosophy is clearly evident in practice and forms a sound foundation for the programme.

An underlying focus on gardening and inclusion of natural materials fosters children’s connectedness to nature. This provides a context for authentic and meaningful experiences and fosters respect for the environment and living things.

The planned programme is documented and prominently displayed to record the development of strong group interests. This shows children involved in genuine tasks, planning and following through on their ideas and the increasing complexity of experiences and concepts. There are good links between learning at home, in the community and at kindergarten. Evaluations provide a good summary of the programme and learning for the group.

Assessment. Children demonstrate strong ownership of their individual portfolios. They regularly revisit and are able to articulate and discuss the entries with their peers and adults. These books have a focus on learning and skill development and increasingly celebrate progress in these. Teachers participate in daily team discussions about what they have noticed about children’s interests and learning and other relevant information shared from families. This strategy enables them to be very responsive in supporting and extending the learning and experience for the child.

Interactions. Children are cooperative and caring. They listen to each other and show empathy for their peers. They are developing their social competence and resilience in a variety of situations. Children use and respond to te reo Māori as they play, and during routine times.

Teachers are positive and calm. They are discerning about when to enter into children’s play and interactions appropriately. Teachers are good language models, using accurate terminology and sophisticated vocabulary in meaningful conversations with children. They listen intently to children’s ideas and contributions and use questions effectively to sustain dialogue and promote thinking.

Environment. The well-organised and maintained building and grounds are richly resourced to support children’s play and learning. They make full use of the whole environment and assist in taking responsibility for its care. Both the inside and outdoors are spacious with a good flow. They include interesting designs and features that form a variety of spaces for creative expression, physical pursuits, transitions and quiet reflection. There has been significant improvement made to the outdoors in recent times and a prioritised plan in place for further development of the indoors. The kindergarten community demonstrates high levels of ownership over and contribution to the kindergarten.

Self review. Spontaneous review is used effectively as an improvement tool. These are well documented, demonstrate teachers’ understanding of the process and include their reflections.

Areas for development and review

Assessment, planning and evaluation. Teachers have identified that the next step in their documentation of group learning is to include further details of their reflection and strategies. Including these is likely to better inform decision making, programme direction and effectiveness through evaluation.

As acknowledged by teachers, the good assessment practices identified above are not consistently implemented. Portfolio entries need stronger links to illustrate continuity of learning and more deliberate planning to show how teachers are supporting the identified next steps. Teachers are aware that the inclusion of family contributions and aspirations requires development. Children’s cultural background is not always acknowledged and celebrated in portfolios.

Transition to school. While professional relationships and procedures are well established with the adjacent primary school these are not as developed with staff at other local schools. There are limited resources for children to access to assist in preparing them for the new environment.

Self review. Teachers have identified, and ERO agrees, that robust planned self review is in the early stages of development. Teachers need to continue to develop their understanding about self review as an improvement tool in relation to evaluating quality and effectiveness.

Association Support

Background

The 2008 ERO review of the association identified several strengths, including the provision of professional development, sound operation plans, support for property development and the use of a range of communication strategies to keep teachers and communities informed. Areas for improvement included the quality and depth of the written feedback given to teachers by the senior teacher and strengthening the appraisal process.

Since 2008, the association has led consultation with the community to modify session times and improve the ratio of teachers to children from 1:15 to 1:10 and maintained its policy of employing qualified, registered teachers in regulated permanent positions.

The association provides expectations and guidance to the kindergarten through its strategic plan, policies and procedures and more recently, the professional development strategy Te Manawa: Criteria for Curriculum Implementation.

Areas of strength

The association continues to provide high levels of guidance and support to teachers for the continuous improvement of teaching and learning. These include:

  • the strategic plan setting expectations for participation, parent/whānau involvement and quality teaching practices
  • clearly defined indicators of quality teaching and learning practice through Te Manawa
  • a wide range of professional development opportunities
  • ongoing support in property development, human resource management, finance and resourcing.

Areas for development and review

The association, senior teachers and ERO have identified areas where the association can strengthen its support for teachers. These include:

  • further developing and supporting leadership, including a review of the appraisal process
  • reviewing senior teacher documentation to show how teachers have improved their practice, as a result of feedback
  • reviewing how kindergartens’ annual plans for teaching and learning could more explicitly show how teachers respond to the association’s strategic priorities.

3 Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Adventure Kindergarten 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:

  • administration;
  • health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management; and
  • 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; and
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

4 Recommendations

ERO and the kindergarten leaders agreed that the priorities for development and review are those outlined in the report.

5 Future Action

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

About the Centre

Type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children aged over 2 years

Roll number

70

Gender composition

Females 41,

Males 29

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā 56,

Māori 5,

European 4,

Cook Island Māori 2,

Other ethnic groups 3

Review team on site

March 2012

Date of this report

21 June 2012

Previous three ERO reports

Education review April 2008

Education Review August 2005

Accountability Review July 1998

To the Parents and Community of Adventure Kindergarten

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Adventure Kindergarten.

Adventure Kindergarten is affiliated to the Wellington Region Free Kindergarten Association (the association). The association has a governing board and a general manager. The general manager is the licensed service provider contact person for the kindergarten. The association employs a team of senior teachers, one of whom is responsible for leading the professional support, advice and guidance to this teaching team. She also liaises with the kindergarten community.

The attractive building and grounds are spacious and well maintained. Significant development has recently occurred to the outdoor environment with further plans in place for the inside. The interesting designs and features form a variety of spaces for creative expression, physical pursuits, transitions and quiet reflection. It is richly resourced to support children’s play and learning. An underlying focus on gardening fosters children’s connectedness to nature. This provides a context for authentic and meaningful experiences and promotes respect for the environment and living things. The parent community regularly contribute to the programme and kindergarten events.

Children benefit from the inclusive programme that is child focused, offers choice and is responsive to their interests. They are involved in genuine tasks and able to plan and follow through on their ideas. Early literacy and mathematical learning are well integrated and digital technologies increasingly utilised. Bicultural understandings are being developed through participation in weekly kapa haka and inclusion of te reo Māori and other cultural protocols. The teaching philosophy is clearly evident in practice and forms a sound foundation for the programme.

Children are cooperative and caring. They listen to each other and show empathy for their peers. They are developing their social competence and resilience in a variety of situations. Teachers are positive and calm. They are good language models and use accurate terminology and sophisticated vocabulary in meaningful conversations with children. They listen intently to children’s ideas and contributions and use questions effectively to sustain dialogue and promote thinking.

Well-established relationships exist with the staff at the adjacent primary school. A transition programme run by the school is in place for children to become familiar with this environment, its curriculum and routines.

The teaching team agrees that robust, planned self review as a tool for improvement requires strengthening. Some aspects of assessment, planning and evaluation are also areas for further 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.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the centre or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)