Arrowtown Community Preschool Inc - 10/06/2015

1 Evaluation of Arrowtown Community Preschool Inc

How well placed is Arrowtown Community Preschool Inc 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

Arrowtown Preschool in Durham Street is a high performing centre. It is one of two preschools owned and governed by a non-profit trust. A professional leader/manager oversees both centres. Each centre has a head teacher. The head teacher and teachers at Durham Street are fully qualified and have worked at the centre for some time.

Recently the organisation of the two centres has changed to better meet children’s and parents’ needs. Children begin at the Cotter Avenue centre and then transition to this centre. The change has brought about greater efficiency and is working very well from the perspectives of staff and parents. Children quickly settle into and enjoy their time at Durham Street.

The Durham Street programme is influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. Learning priorities are to develop children’s creativity, foster respectful relationships, empower children to be confident and capable learners and encourage risk taking. Nature-based learning is very important in the centre. These priorities are strongly evident in what happens day-to-day.

Parents are very supportive of the centre and involved in various ways. The centre supports and is supported by the local community. Children frequently visit places of interest in the nearby township and the neighbouring bush reserve.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the outdoor area has been extensively redeveloped to better engage children in nature-based learning and to challenge them. Leaders and teachers have successfully addressed the recommendations in the 2012 ERO report. This has resulted in improved leadership and self review.

The Review Findings

Children show a very strong sense of confidence and belonging in this centre. Factors contributing to this are the:

  • very respectful relationships between adults in the centre and children
  • friendships and genuine enjoyment in each other’s company
  • easy access to and choice about a wide range of resources and activities
  • visibility of the children and their work in centre displays
  • homely environment created by the balance of busy and quiet areas and easy flow between areas.

Much care is taken to help children in their transition from Cotter Avenue to this centre. Each Friday they visit Durham Street to get to know their new teachers, friends, the centre and its resources.

Other factors contributing to the children’s easy transition are:

  • the similarities in learning priorities between the two centres
  • that teachers frequently work in each other’s centres so already know the children
  • that teachers meet to talk about each child, their learning and how they will support this
  • the very good communication between teachers and parents.

Children are also well supported in their transition to school.

Teachers know the children very well as individuals. They recognise their interests, learning dispositions and strengths and value their cultural backgrounds. They view each child as confident and capable and encourage them to be independent, take responsibility, help others and make choices about their learning.

Teachers think deeply about the teaching strategies they use to support children’s learning. They intentionally foster the centre’s identified learning priorities. These priorities are strongly evident in children’s day-to-day learning. Each week, children spend time in a neighbouring bush area where they are encouraged to explore, take risks and feel a sense of wonderment about the natural world.

Children often hear te reo Māori and learn about aspects of Māori culture. Teachers use creative strategies to engage children in te ao Māori, such as storytelling, dramatic play and Māori art forms. The centre’s resources and displays strongly reflect Māori culture. Core values, such as whanaungatanga (the importance of relationships) are very evident in interactions.

Children experience success and enjoyment in their play and learning. Their teachers ensure they have the skills, confidence and resources to manage and lead this. They encourage children to have a go and support if and when necessary. Their teachers encourage them to revisit prior work. This adds complexity to their learning.

Teachers skilfully assess and plan for individuals and groups of children. They often consult with parents about their children’s learning. Learning stories show that children make good progress towards their learning goals. Well presented visual displays enable children and parents to revisit previous learning.

Children benefit from:

  • a well-resourced and very attractive learning environment
  • how teachers use their interests to hook them into learning
  • the appropriate balance between following children’s interests and teachers initiating new learning
  • the high quality art programme, with its focus on skills, process and knowledge
  • rich early-literacy and mathematics experiences.

The manager provides high quality professional leadership. She and the head teacher value the skills, strengths and interests of staff. There is a strong culture of reflection and ongoing improvement. This has been strengthened by more rigorous review of teaching and learning and centre operations.

Leaders and teachers understand the importance of self review and use this well to make ongoing improvements. For example, the recent review of how the two centres operate has resulted in improved efficiency, teacher development and consistency in teaching practices. Parents and teachers note how these developments have had a very positive impact on children’s learning.

Trust-board governors and centre leaders are focused on what is best for children and their families. Teachers appreciate the rigorous and improvement-focused appraisal process. The manager and board regularly gather parents’ views about centre practices and children’s wellbeing and learning.

There are very sound governance and management systems and practices. This includes useful guidelines and clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The board is well informed about the two centres’ operations. It has overseen a comprehensive review of policies and procedures so that these better align with the 2008 early childhood regulations.

Over the last four years, useful strategic and annual plans have driven significant property, programme and organisational improvements.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps are:

  • to update the governance manual and complete the review of governance policies and procedures
  • to report more formally on the implementation of annual and strategic plans
  • for teachers to better evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies they use to extend and deepen children’s learning and to achieve intended learning goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Arrowtown Community Preschool Inc 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.

Arrowtown Preschool Durham Street has very good health and safety practices. While on site ERO discussed several areas where small improvements could be made.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Arrowtown Community Preschool Inc will be in four years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

10 June 2015

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service

Location

Arrowtown

Ministry of Education profile number

90111

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

33 children

Service roll

40

Gender composition

Boys 22

Girls 18

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Other Ethnicities

1

35

4

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2

1:8

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

April 2015

Date of this report

10 June 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

April 2012

 

Education Review

May 2009

 

Education Review

June 2006

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.