Au Pair Link Auckland 1 - 21/01/2013

1 The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Au Pair Link Auckland 1 is one of four home-based care services providing high quality early childhood education and care for children from birth to school age in the greater Auckland region. Au Pair Link was established in 2006 and operates from seven locations throughout New Zealand.

The Auckland-based services were established in 2010. Au pairs are selected from overseas and successful applicants are matched for suitability to host families and their children. The service has well documented expectations, guidelines and systems and provides good support and induction for au pairs as they take up their responsibilities within the homes of their hosts. Programme managers continue this induction process through monthly mentoring and follow-up sessions for the duration of time that au pairs stay with families.

Warm and caring relationships are quickly established between children and au pairs. Au pairs provide practical learning activities and access to resources that are appropriate to children’s developmental stages. Additional learning experiences for children are provided at the playgroup sessions, and during the programme managers’ monthly home visits. Visits and excursions to places of interest further extend learning opportunities for children.

Au Pair Link Auckland 1 is well placed to sustain and continue to develop its care and education provisions. Strengths of the service include:

  • strong responsive relationships between au pairs, managers and children and their families
  • a focus on continuous improvement and high quality documentation to guide good practice in all aspects of the service
  • effective leadership and mentoring processes that ensure well managed transitions for au pairs, children and their families
  • well documented learning experiences for children based on Te Whāriki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum.

Managers have identified that their next steps for developing the programme include the continuing use of self review to strengthen the quality of assessment, implementation of bicultural practices and staff professional development provisions. ERO affirms managers’ decision-making about useful next steps for the service.

Future Action

ERO will review the service again in three years.

2 The Focus of the Review

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.

The Quality of Education

Background

The service is owned by Au Pair Link Ltd, which maintains a number of home-based care licences across New Zealand. A skilled and experienced Education Services Manager oversees all of the networks nationally. Due to the organisation's rapid growth in Auckland, an area manager has also been appointed, and three additional programme manager appointments are planned. Programme managers are responsible for the networks in their region. Au pairs are recruited from Europe, the USA, the UK and Canada.

This is the first review for Au Pair Link Auckland 1. The organisation has 54 children enrolled, with up to 28 au pairs caring for children. Four qualified and registered (ECE) programme managers coordinate provisions for children’s care and education. The sharing of strengths, knowledge and skills in early childhood education within the programme manager's team is a key source of professional learning for these managers.

Areas of good performance

Children’s wellbeing and belonging. Children are settled and interact positively with au pairs. They are confident in the company of their caregivers and programme managers. Children enjoy the attentive, calm and patient care provided by au pairs. Parents develop clear guidelines for au pairs about their expectations for their children’s behaviour. Children show an understanding of what is expected of them when they are at home and when they are out in the community.

Learning experiences. Children are exposed to a variety of learning experiences through visits to playgroups, music groups, library programmes and other locations. These trips enable children to interact with many other children on a regular basis. The playgroup provides a good variety of age-appropriate activities for children to participate in. Programme managers effectively model for au pairs how to interact with children and implement good learning programmes. They use excursions as an important part of the curriculum to further extend children’s learning in the wider community.

Resources and equipment. Resources and equipment available to support children’s learning and play are a combination of those belonging to the host family and items provided by Au Pair Link Ltd. Children’s choice is respected and catered for through a wide selection of well maintained equipment. Resources are changed regularly and are selected to stimulate and further extend children’s interests.

Communication and relationships. Parents value the open, well considered and mutually respectful communication they have with their au pair and programme manager. They appreciate being kept well informed about their child’s day and learning through communication books, monthly observation sheets and newsletters from programme managers and the wider Au Pair Link Ltd.

Programme management. Au pairs are committed to helping children progress their learning and children often benefit from programmes that focus on their current strengths and interests. An effective documentation process has been developed and is used well by most au pairs to plan for children’s care and education. Au pairs regularly observe children at play and are well supported by programme managers to further extend children’s interests. Planning for younger children appropriately focuses on developmental goals.

Leadership and management. A clear strategic direction and philosophy underpins all aspects of the service’s operations and practices. There are comprehensive, high quality guidelines and procedures to support staff, au pairs and their families. Guidelines are based on current good practices in early childhood education.

An experienced National Education Services Manager provides effective leadership for professional practice. She coordinates and supports the work of the area manager and programme managers. Her focus is on building a professional learning community that builds the capabilities of the au pairs and fosters positive outcomes for children and their families.

Induction and training. Au pairs are appreciative and enthusiastic about the ongoing training opportunities provided by the service. A well organised orientation workshop is an important element in helping au pairs to settle successfully into work in this country. Training provided consists of developing an understanding of Te Whāriki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum and learning how to evaluate children’s learning through the use of ‘learning stories’, and first aid studies. It includes an introduction to the Treaty of Waitangi, work to support the inclusion of bicultural practices, and strategies for promoting te reo and tikanga Māori in programme planning.

Managers also provide parent education programmes and encourage families and au pairs to attend workshops to strengthen their understanding about high quality early childhood programmes.

Self review. Self review is used purposefully to improve the quality of care and education for children and to monitor the effectiveness of health and safety practices. Staff implement a planned approach to self review that uses multiple perspectives and has its basis in current theory and research. Feedback is frequently sought from families, au pairs and children. Recent reviews have focused on the strengthening the quality of learning stories and the provision of the curriculum, Te Whāriki.

Areas for development and review

During the review service managers and ERO discussed next steps for further enriching the programme provided for children. These include:

  • making the programme more challenging by providing greater encouragement for children’s problem-solving and thinking skills
  • continuing to enhance professional development aimed at extending au pairs’ and parents’ knowledge about how to develop children’s thinking and reasoning skills
  • further work on learning stories to include greater detail about children’s learning
  • continuing to strengthen parents’ understanding of their role in supporting children’s education.

Programme managers also identified, and ERO agrees, that there would be value in:

  • strengthening and extending the depth of self-review practices
  • continuing to strengthen the service’s bicultural practices and knowledge.

3 Management Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the management and staff of Au Pair Link Auckland 1 completed an ERO Home-Based Education and Care Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • curriculum standard
  • premises and facilities standard
  • health and safety practices standard
  • governance management and administration standard.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they 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 Future Action

ERO will review the service again in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

21 January 2013

About the Service

Location

Parnell, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

25434

Service type

Homebased Network

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Service roll

54

Gender composition

Girls 30

Boys 24

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Indian

other

47

2

2

1

2

Review team on site

October 2012

Date of this report

21 January 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports