AUT Early Childhood Centre - 03/12/2015

1. Evaluation of AUT Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is AUT Early Childhood Centre 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

AUT Early Childhood Centre is a well established centre on the Wellesley campus of Auckland University of Technology (AUT). The centre caters for the children of staff and students at the university. The centre’s philosophy reflects teachers’ commitment to promoting positive outcomes for children.

The centre provides all day education and care for up to 40 children, including up to 12 babies and toddlers under two years. Services are provided in two separate age groupings: young children up to two years of age, and older children between the ages of two and five. Children and teachers have a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, with Asian and Pākehā being the largest groups represented.

Teachers provide children with a stable and caring learning environment. Most teachers are qualified and fully registered, with the teaching team comprising a mix of mainly long-serving teachers and some relieving teachers.

During 2014 a new centre leader was appointed from within the existing teaching team. She is providing strong leadership that is having a positive impact on strengthening the professional thinking and practice of staff.

The governance and management group is comprised of skilled representatives from within the university and the centre. They include AUT human resources and finance managers, AUT studentparents, the centre leader and teacher representatives. Meetings to discuss the operation of the centre are held monthly.

AUT Early Childhood Centre has a history of positive ERO reports. The 2012 ERO report reaffirmed the centre’s good practices and agreed with the teachers that next steps for centre development should include exploring ways to further extend the depth of learning for older children.

Recent self review is resulting in a stronger focus on the individual learner. The use of digital technologies is enabling the development of in-depth learning opportunities, and is also fostering more conversation between parents and teachers about their children’s learning.

The Review Findings

Children show a strong sense of belonging and independence. Older children are creative, imaginative and inclusive in their play. They negotiate changes in play scenarios and solve problems together. Younger children are confident to try new experiences independently. The primary care giver model used by teachers encourages trusting relationships between infants and toddlers and their teachers. Frequent interactions help to extend children’s oral language competency.

Meaningful partnerships between teachers and parents/whānau continue to develop, promoting positive outcomes for children. Teachers consult with parents and grandparents. They are responsive to the values and aspirations of children’s families and work in ways that are inclusive of children’s cultural identities. Whānau are invited to help build on and extend children’s learning in a variety of ways.

Te Whāriki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, provides a framework for teacher planning. Children’s interests are identified and are extended over time. The centre’s play-based programme fosters curiosity and enjoyment. E-portfolios encourage interactive communication where parents and teachers can share children’s learning in both the home and centre.

Teachers have a strong commitment to supporting and affirming children’s cultural identity. They access professional development from the AUT academic faculty to increase their knowledge about cultures and languages. Teachers ably use children’s home languages to engage more authentically in learning conversations.

A kaiako/teacher has recently begun to lead and support the development of tikanga Māori and the use of appropriate resourcing in learning environments. Teachers attend noho marae to learn more about the significance of Waitangi day and Matariki celebrations. Tamariki Māori are respected as tangata whenua and are given opportunities to show leadership in welcoming visitors to the centre.

A fai’aoga/teacher leads work on promoting of Pacific cultures within the curriculum. There is a focus on enriching the use of Pacific resources within the teaching and learning programme, and on attracting more Pacific families to the centre. Teachers enhance the curriculum by attending events such as Pasifika language week, visiting the museum, and engaging with other early childhood centres with specialist Pacific programmes and knowledge.

A range of processes are used effectively to help children transition smoothly into the centre, between the two age groups, and on to school.

Self-review processes are used systematically to make improvements to the learning environment and to extend teachers’ professional knowledge and practice. Children, parents and teachers contribute their ideas and opinions to discussions. Relevant studies and theories are used to strengthen and build teachers’ early childhood knowledge. As a result of these good practices, there is now a stronger focus on children as independent learners who can capably lead their own learning.

Teachers have many opportunities to develop their leadership skills. Shared professional understandings and knowledge is encouraged through in-depth research and professional training. Individualised mentoring and coaching support is building teacher capability across the teams.

Leaders have strengthened teacher appraisal processes to support the ongoing growth and professional development of staff. Formally documenting the appraisal policy and procedures would more clearly demonstrate the alignment of the centre’s appraisal processes with Education Council requirements. It would also promote consistent understanding and expectations for teaching practice and provide appropriate guidelines for endorsing teacher registration.

Key Next Steps

The centre has robust self review systems. ERO affirms the centre’s own identification of key next steps, including those for:

  • strengthening teachers’ use of reflection and inquiry in centre planning and when responding to children’s strengths and interests
  • utilising the outdoors areas more fully to encourage the development of children’s physical skills
  • developing further capacity for evaluating progress towards achieving strategic goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of AUT Early Childhood Centre 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of AUT Early Childhood Centre will be in four years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

3 December 2015

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

Central Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

20007

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll

45

Gender composition

Girls 23

Boys 22

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Chinese

European

South East Asian

Middle Eastern

Samoan

Cook Island Māori

Tongan

other Asian

4

10

7

4

4

3

3

2

1

7

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

1:3

Better than minimum requirements

 

Over 2

1:7

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

3 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 2012

 

Education Review

June 2009

 

Education Review

May 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.