Capital Montessori School - 13/03/2014

1 Evaluation of Capital Montessori School

How well placed is Capital Montessori School 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

Capital Montessori School has operated since 1986 in Kingston, Wellington. It caters for up to 60 children aged from three years to six years, in two mixed-aged classrooms. The curriculum is based on Montessori philosophy. A Montessori playgroup operates several times a week on its premises.

Governance of the centre is provided by a council of elected parent representatives. They oversee staffing, resourcing, school developments and requirements for legal obligations. Members take on areas of responsibility and some are active in the school, providing aspects of administration and support for teachers.

The long-serving principal and lead teacher provide leadership for each of the classrooms, supported by qualified staff, four of whom are fulltime teachers. Teachers are participating in a research project as part of Massey University's Journey to Excellence Te Ara ki Huhuatanga Pilot programme to promote effective practices for teaching and self review.

Since ERO’s September 2010 review, there have been staff and leadership changes, and financial challenges. These have impacted on consistency of teaching and school operations.

Capital Montessori School was previously operating under two separate licenses: Kowhai and Fernlea. In 2012 the school relicensed under the Education (Early Childhood Services) 2008 regulations and licenses were merged.

The Review Findings

Centre practices and operations are clearly guided by a shared vision aligned to Montessori philosophy. A well-defined curriculum guides the programme and is evident in classrooms. There are deliberate strategies for building shared understandings of philosophy and practice for teachers and parents.

Children learn in peaceful, calm environments where they are well supported to develop confidence, competence and independence. Children are encouraged to sustain their engagement with learning and persist with challenge. They demonstrate care for the wellbeing of others. Younger children work and play cooperatively alongside older children.

Teachers work responsively to guide, support and monitor children’s learning. There are well developed systems and practices for assessment, planning and evaluation. Comprehensive records of learning assist teachers to build a rich picture of children’s development and progress to share with parents. Teachers are working to build partnerships with parents and provide opportunities for them to share ongoing concerns and aspirations for their children.

The principal provides experienced, knowledgeable curriculum leadership. She models, guides and promotes practices aligned to the school’s vision and Montessori principles. Teachers seek opportunities to improve and share curriculum knowledge. They regularly reflect on and inquire into their practice and respond thoughtfully to findings.

Staff acknowledge the need to strengthen their responsiveness to children’s identity, culture and language. An increase in enrolments of Māori children has prompted the school to consider a review of policy, in partnership with whānau. This should provide a basis for reviewing provision for Māori learners and their families. Leaders acknowledge the need to build teacher capacity and knowledge in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. This should assist teachers to more meaningfully weave te ao Māori through the programme within the local context.

Robust, well-considered review of curriculum effectiveness contributes to improvements. Current review of children’s interests is appropriately focused on promoting children’s engagement and leadership of learning, and aligned well to the school’s philosophy. It is informed by a range of wellanalysed sources of evidence. A review of children’s transition into the centre, informed by parents, has resulted in positive change to procedures and practices.

Appraisal processes are being strengthened to include Registered Teacher Criteria and increased use of evidence. Consideration should also be given to the addition of centre-wide and personal goals and inclusion of Taitaiako: Cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners. The principal’s appraisal for 2013 is underway and the job description has been reviewed. The use of an external appraiser for the principal would be a useful next step.

Council members are actively committed to the vision and success of the school and the promotion of positive outcomes for children. They meet regularly to discuss governance and management. Systems are in place to monitor health and safety and review policy. Meetings are structured and usefully documented. There is a strong focus on providing increased opportunities for participation of families in events and gaining their feedback on developments and practices.

A lack of shared understanding about governance, leadership and management hinders improvement. Council members and teachers are aware of the need to develop better systems for communication and decision-making. Leadership and management roles require further clarification to enable improved school operation. The planned review of teachers’ time should contribute to establishing directions for improvement. Consideration should also be given as to how leadership is distributed and shared by teachers.

A reviewed strategic plan, in response to ERO’s 2010 recommendations and parent surveys, provides direction for the school. It is timely to revise the school charter to align with the Education (Early Childhood Services) 2008 regulations and the school’s vision and philosophy. Further developing strategic and annual planning goals to align with governance, leadership and management roles should provide better guidance for implementation and evaluation of outcomes.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for the school are to:

  • develop shared understandings of governance, management and leadership
  • establish effective processes for sharing information and communication between council members, leadership and teachers. This should include establishing clear systems and codes of conduct for positive contributions to decision-making
  • ensure appraisal of the principal is annually completed and effective.

Recommendation

ERO recommends that the council seeks external support to facilitate improved understanding of governance, management and leadership in this setting, and systems for effective communication and decision-making.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Capital Montessori School 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 Capital Montessori School will be in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

13 March 2014

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

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

60311

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

60 children aged over 2

Service roll

51

Gender composition

Boys 26

Girls 25

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Indian

Filipino

Chinese

Other European

Sri Lankan

6

29

5

4

3

3

1

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2

1:9

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2013

Date of this report

13 March 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2010

 

Education Review

June 2007

 

Education Review

February 2005

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.