Footsteps Education Ltd - 05/10/2013

1 The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Footsteps Education Ltd is a privately owned and operated home-based early childhood network operating across parts of the Manawatu, Horowhenua and Wellington regions. It is one of 18 chartered Footsteps networks nationwide. A national team provides governance and management support for all services. The organisation is particularly focused on making a difference to children in need of care and protection. Around half of the children enrolled are in the custodial care of Child, Youth and Families Services (CYFS) and under the guardianship of family members/whānau. At the time of the previous ERO reviews, most Footsteps networks were part of the Linmark home-based care organisation.

Positive and caring relationships between caregivers and children are evident. The three kaiako and manager working in this network undertake their roles with professional integrity and enthusiasm. Kaiako provide focused and encouraging support for caregivers to implement a learning programme for children in their home. Detailed written and photographic records show children’s learning history. They also promote caregivers' understanding of early learning and provide information for parents/whānau and social workers about special learning moments and developmental progress. A variety of resources is made available to support play and learning.

Footsteps has a clear commitment to implementing a bicultural perspective across the organisation. Further work needs to be undertaken to assist caregivers to understand this commitment and ways they can integrate bicultural practices into their work with children.

Management is improvement focused. External review and up-to-date research are valued and used effectively to make decisions about changes to practice and operation. Governance and management roles are well defined and understood. Leadership for programme and operational development is effective. A clear vision, values and strategies for the further development of the service are in place. These emphasise improving outcomes for children, particularly those at risk.

ERO, management, and kaiako have agreed on key next development steps. Implementing new practices to support licensing under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 and improve aspects of health and safety is a priority. Other priorities include strengthening support for staff development, increasing the focus on best practice for infants and toddlers and improving learning documentation. Building understanding and use of self review should enhance decision making at all levels of the organisation.

Future Action

ERO will review the service again within 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

Around half of the children enrolled in Footsteps Education Ltd 30223 are in the custodial care of CYFS. They come from a wide range of ethnic groups and 40% are Māori.

Three kaiako, who are registered teachers, support caregivers to implement an education programme for children in their homes. A regional director oversees kaiako practice and operations. A sample of 10% of caregiver homes was visited as part of the evaluation of this network.

Preparing to implement the new requirements for licensing has been a recent focus for management. A strategic plan outlines priorities for the Footsteps organisation, including new initiatives to streamline operations, strengthen support for staff development and expand the business.

Areas of good performance

Positive and caring relationships between caregivers and children are evident. Children’s feelings of belonging and wellbeing are fostered by familiarity with the home environment and emphasis on positive family values. Caregivers manage children’s behaviour positively and promote their social learning.

Kaiako provide focused and encouraging support for caregivers to implement a learning programme for children. They are proactive in networking with social workers and community support organisations and encourage caregivers to attend workshops and events to help them in their roles. Home visits are used well to discuss children’s emerging interests and possible next learning steps.

Children’s ideas are encouraged, accepted and respected. Detailed written and photographic records show children’s learning history. They also promote caregivers’ understanding of early learning and provide information for parents/whānau and social workers about special learning moments and developmental progress. A variety of good quality resources provided by Footsteps supplement those available in homes to support play and learning.

Footsteps has a clear commitment to implementing a bicultural perspective across the organisation. A kaumatua provides advice, guidance and support. Kaiako use short phrases in te reo Māori with children when they visit homes. Review and development are ongoing.

Kaiako and their managers undertake their roles with professional integrity and enthusiasm. Generous professional development and regular opportunities for discussion and sharing of constructive feedback are provided. These contribute to improved, consistent practice and quality assurance. Recent initiatives enable kaiako to develop their leadership skills and offer new ideas to the organisation. Strong commitment to the values, philosophy and strategic direction of Footsteps is evident.

Comprehensive written guidelines and resources support the implementation of the Home-based Care Order and a consistent approach to enacting care, the education programme and health and safety practices across the organisation. These continue to be revised and improved over time.

Management is improvement focused. External review and up-to-date research are valued and used effectively to make decisions about changes to practice and operation. Governance and management roles are well defined and understood. Leadership for programme and operational development is effective. A clear vision, values and strategies for the further development of the service are in place. These emphasise improving outcomes for children, particularly those at risk.

Areas for development and review

Management agrees that key next steps include supporting:

  • caregivers’ understanding of early learning linked to the intent, principles and outcomes of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum
  • the introduction of the findings of the 2012 external review of learning journals. Making journals simpler and more inviting for children, parents and caregivers should support them to take a more active role in planning for learning. Capturing the input of other people of significance in children’s lives, should further enrich these records
  • a stronger focus on developing understanding of best practice programmes for infants and toddlers
  • caregivers, to understand the bicultural commitment of the organisation and the ways they can integrate that into their work with children
  • kaiako, to refine their approach to helping children make effective transitions to primary school
  • the implementation of an improved appraisal process for all teachers and a more defined advice and guidance programme for provisionally registered teachers
  • the capacity for internal review. Understanding and use of evaluative self review at all levels should support ongoing decision making about change and monitoring of progress related to strategic goals and enactment of the Footsteps ideology. Evaluation of practice at kaiako and caregivers’ levels should directly support improvement to practices and programmes for children.

3 Management Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the management and staff of Footsteps Education Ltd completed an ERO Home-Based 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:

  • administration
  • health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial and property management.

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.

Areas for development and review

Quality assurance requires strengthening, particularly in relation to hazard management.

Management and ERO agree that some aspects of practice need to be further developed in preparation for licensing under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008. Plans are being put in place to improve management of hazards, excursions, and sleep monitoring, and to provide first-aid training for kaiako and caregivers.

4 Future Action

ERO will review the service again within three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

9 October 2013

About the Service

Location

Manawatu, Horowhenua and Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

30223

Service type

Homebased Network

Chartered under

Education (Home-based Care) Order 1992

Service roll

56

Gender composition

Girls 31, Boys 25

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific ethnic groups

Other ethnic groups

22

19

8

7

Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

9 October 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports