Kids Domain Early Learning Centre - 22/02/2012

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Kids Domain Early Learning Centre is a well-established centre on the grounds of Auckland City Hospital and caters for the children of hospital staff. Previously operating as three centres, the centre was amalgamated under one licence in 2011 with minimal impact on the centre’s operation. Effective governance, management and leadership continue to be features of the centre and respectful relationships are strongly evident. Very good professional support for staff has resulted in low staff turnover and a high proportion of qualified teachers. Parents express considerable satisfaction with the quality of the service.

Children are confident, independent learners. They benefit from long periods of uninterrupted play and are able to join small groups or enjoy solitary exploration. They share trusting relationships with teachers, establish good friendships with peers and actively participate in conversations. Children’s wellbeing and sense of belonging are nurtured through appropriate group sizes, sensitive care routines and positive transitions through the centre.

Capable teachers communicate and support each other well. They are developing cohesion so that the centre has an overarching focus on learning and teachers have a shared approach to planning. They use projects successfully to foster children’s interests and encourage them to engage in research, negotiation and problem solving.

The centre is an inviting learning environment for children. Play areas are uncluttered and there are interesting spaces to invite children’s exploration. Children move freely between the indoor and outdoor areas and enjoy a natural environment with gardens, varied textures and attractive furniture and fittings. Teachers acknowledge tikanga and te reo Māori through displays and resources and are developing their use of te reo in the programme. The Reggio Emilia approach to learning is reflected in displays, equipment and teaching practices.

Self-review practices are well developed. Ongoing reflection has resulted in the recent establishment of a curriculum manager to guide further development of the programme and extend the learning challenges provided for children. Her addition to the leadership team provides strong support for centre leaders to address their agreed next steps for enhanced performance.

Future Action

ERO is likely to review the centre again in three years.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Kids Domain Early Learning Centre was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the centre to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the management and staff. This discussion focused on existing information held by the centre (including self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to positive outcomes for children at Kids Domain Early Learning Centre.

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.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

The Quality of Education

Background

In 2010 the service was relicensed under the 2008 early childhood regulations and amalgamated as one centre in 2011. Previously the service had operated as three individual centres, sharing governance, management and personnel systems. While the change has largely been for administrative purposes, centre leaders are interested in developing a cohesive culture that will reflect the single licence.

The management and teaching teams have had few changes since the 2008 ERO review and the strengths identified at that time remain as effective centre practices. Almost all staff are qualified teachers and many are completing their registration. Research focused on lived childhood experiences, which teachers had just begun at the time of the 2008 ERO review, was completed in 2011 and has contributed to enhanced collegial relationships and teachers’ increased understanding of children’s strengths.

Areas of strength

Relationships. The centre is characterised by high quality relationships. Trust and respect are well established between the executive committee, centre leaders and staff. Parents are welcomed and actively involved in the centre. They are regularly consulted and informed about their children’s learning and wellbeing. Teachers know children and their families well. Adults recognise children’s competence, acknowledge them as independent learners, and care for them with warmth, humour and respect. Parents express considerable satisfaction with the service.

Confident children. Teachers expect children to become independent learners. Programmes provide good opportunities for children to:

  • access resources independently and engage in small group or solitary play
  • participate in long-term projects involving research and working collaboratively
  • practise early literacy and numeracy skills in meaningful contexts
  • enjoy prolonged periods of uninterrupted play and be relaxed about getting messy
  • develop friendships with peers that foster negotiation, shared problem solving and cooperation
  • make relaxed and positive transitions between the playrooms.

Adults’ trust in children helps infants to settle quickly, toddlers to become fearless explorers, and older children to become articulate communicators. The challenge for teachers is to maintain their vigilance in monitoring multiple play scenarios.

Capable teachers. Children benefit from teachers who are responsive to their interests and physical, social and emotional needs. Teachers provide an integrated approach to children’s learning, incorporating interests within project work and making deliberate choices about resources that will stimulate investigation. They skilfully engage children in conversations that encourage toddlers to experiment with language and older children to contribute their own ideas.

Teachers are interested in building cohesion across the four playrooms. This is well supported by a current focus on improved programme evaluation and shared planning strategies, and very good staff communication.

Learning environment. The centre is an attractive, natural learning environment for children. Learning areas are uncluttered and provide many interesting spaces for children to work in small groups or be alone. Play flows easily between the indoor and outdoor settings and children benefit from an environment with many trees, plants and high quality furniture and fittings. Reggio Emilia influences are reflected in equipment and a commitment to further develop challenging resources.

Leadership. The centre continues to enjoy effective governance, management and leadership. A relatively new executive committee is kept well informed about centre operations and contributes actively to strategic decision-making. Strengths of the management structure include:

  • annual management planning that is aligned with centre goals
  • well developed self-review processes
  • consistent and capable leadership that has helped systems to evolve over time
  • good employer practices incorporating extensive professional development opportunities for staff
  • succession planning and mentoring programmes for staff.

An open-door policy and transparent communication networks enable the centre manager to support staff effectively and to respond to parents’ aspirations.

Areas for development and review

The senior leadership team agrees that the next steps for centre development include:

  • establishing a long-term, rolling strategic plan
  • strengthening the evaluation of self-review processes
  • continuing the development of programme planning, particularly in relation to children’s individual interests
  • extending the opportunities for children to engage in challenging learning experiences
  • involving children in developing learning goals and assessing their own progress
  • further recognising children’s cultural heritage and extending the use of Ministry of Education resources to support the learning of Māori children.

The senior leaders are well positioned to enhance current practices. They are strongly supported by the executive committee, which is interested in strategic development and in contributing to self review. The curriculum and education managers have a clear vision for improvement and show enthusiasm for working cooperatively to extend the complexity of children’s play and to foster inquiry learning.

3. Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Kids Domain Early Learning 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:

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

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records of recent use of procedures. ERO also checked elements of the following areas that 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.

In order to improve current practice, centre managers should review the centre’s templates for health and safety records to ensure that relevant information can be clearly recorded.

4. Recommendations

ERO and the centre leaders agree that:

  1. the role of the curriculum manager should be embedded with a focus on establishing cohesion with the education manager’s role for teacher development
  2. leaders should evaluate the impact of their self-review processes in relation to their mission statement and the quality of outcomes achieved for children.

5. Future Action

ERO is likely to review the centre again in three years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

About the Centre

Type

All Day Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

100 children, including up to 40 aged under 2

Roll number

135

Gender composition

Boys 52%,

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 61%,

Māori 4%,

Samoan 5%,

Chinese 4%,

Cook Island Māori 3%,

Indian 3%,

South African 2%,

other European 8%,

other Asian 3%,

others 7%

Review team on site

January 2012

Date of this report

22 February 2012

Previous three ERO reports

 

Previously reported as Kids Domain Early Learning Centre 1,2 & 3

Education Review November 2008

Education Review October 2005

To the Parents and Community of Kids Domain Early Learning Centre

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Kids Domain Early Learning Centre.

Kids Domain Early Learning Centre is a well-established centre on the grounds of Auckland City Hospital and caters for the children of hospital staff. Previously operating as three centres, the centre was amalgamated under one licence in 2011 with minimal impact on the centre’s operation. Effective governance, management and leadership continue to be features of the centre and respectful relationships are strongly evident. Very good professional support for staff has resulted in low staff turnover and a high proportion of qualified teachers. Parents express considerable satisfaction with the quality of the service.

Children are confident, independent learners. They benefit from long periods of uninterrupted play and are able to join small groups or enjoy solitary exploration. They share trusting relationships with teachers, establish good friendships with peers and actively participate in conversations. Children’s wellbeing and sense of belonging are nurtured through appropriate group sizes, sensitive care routines and positive transitions through the centre.

Capable teachers communicate and support each other well. They are developing cohesion so that the centre has an overarching focus on learning and teachers have a shared approach to planning. They use projects successfully to foster children’s interests and encourage them to engage in research, negotiation and problem solving.

The centre is an inviting learning environment for children. Play areas are uncluttered and there are interesting spaces to invite children’s exploration. Children move freely between the indoor and outdoor areas and enjoy a natural environment with gardens, varied textures and attractive furniture and fittings. Teachers acknowledge tikanga and te reo Māori through displays and resources and are developing their use of te reo in the programme. The Reggio Emilia approach to learning is reflected in displays, equipment and teaching practices.

Self-review practices are well developed. Ongoing reflection has resulted in the recent establishment of a curriculum manager to guide further development of the programme and extend the learning challenges provided for children. Her addition to the leadership team provides strong support for centre leaders to address their agreed next steps for enhanced performance.

Future Action

ERO is likely to review the centre again in three years.

When ERO has reviewed an early childhood centre we encourage management to inform their community of any follow up action they plan to take. You should talk to the management or contact person if you have any questions about this evaluation, the full ERO report or their future intentions.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the centre or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)