Leaps and Bounds New Plymouth - 29/05/2017

1 Evaluation of Leaps and Bounds New Plymouth

How well placed is Leaps and Bounds New Plymouth to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Key aspects of practice and operation have not been adequately supported during the transition to new ownership. These continue to require development.

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.

Background

Leaps and Bounds New Plymouth is a private early learning service owned by Evolve Education Group (EEG). It is licensed for 70 children, including 20 aged up to two years. Of the 86 children enrolled, 21 are Māori. Children are catered for in two learning spaces: Teina is primarily for infants and toddlers; and Tuakana for older children.

At the time of the February 2014 ERO review, the service was called Wrinkles Early Learning Centre. Just prior to the change in ownership, Wrinkle's premises were demolished and rebuilt. When EEG took over operation in August 2015, the centre was renamed. Since that time licensing numbers have gradually increased from 38 to 70 children.

Management oversight is provided by regional and area managers who report to the chief operating officer of EEG. Day-to-day management is the responsibility of the centre manager who is supported by the leader of a sister centre located nearby.

Of the 11 staff employed, nine are registered teachers. There has been significant turnover of staff, leadership and management personnel since 2015. Four staff remain from the Wrinkles service.

The philosophy guiding teaching and learning is under review. The curriculum is supported by interim statements that outline expectations for elements of practice regarded as priorities: respect; promotion of children’s independence; and skills in literacy and numeracy.

This ERO evaluation had a particular focus on the effectiveness of EEG's change management process in sustaining and improving outcomes for children through the transition to new ownership. 

The Review Findings

Urgent priority should be given to identifying the values that underpin teaching and learning at the centre. The 18-month review of the philosophy has been carefully considered and inclusive of a wide range of perspectives. However, without a conclusion, effective planning for, and evaluation of, teaching and learning is not possible.

The daily programme is flexible, enabling children to have choices about the timing and level of their participation. Resources are freely accessible and support a range of interests. Children's care routines and transitions between rooms are largely directed by them. These aspects of the programme are supporting their self-management and independence as learners.

Teachers give priority to knowing children well and supporting their participation in the programme. Consistency of staffing is now established in the two play spaces. Teachers build friendly and purposeful relationships with parents and whānau. Their experience working with early intervention agencies is enabling children requiring additional learning support to better engage in the programme. Teachers' interactions with children are consistently gentle and caring. At times they initiate sustained learning conversations that extend children's ideas and support their perseverance in their play. When organising the programme, leaders should prioritise:

  • provision of increased opportunities for teachers to deeply engage with children over time

  • acknowledgement of children's and their families' cultures, languages and identities in the programme and operation

  • developing teachers' understanding of te ao Māori and ways to work with Māori learners and their whānau

  • further developing relationships with local schools to enable sharing of information about children's learning, and school and early childhood programmes.

The head teacher acknowledges the centre's approach to assessment for learning is at an early stage of development. To improve the approach leaders should:

  • increase the emphasis on planning for individuals rather than the group

  • ensure teachers have sufficient time to notice, recognise and respond to individual children's learning, and to record their progress over time

  • support parents' participation in planning for their children's learning through Identifying and responding to their aspirations and encouraging their ongoing input

  • ensure that assessment records are culturally inclusive

  • develop assessment procedures to support consistency of practice and shared understanding amongst teachers.

Team culture continues to build as new staff settle into the centre. Collaborative ways of working and reflective practice are encouraged. While individualised development-focused support has been in place for provisionally certificated teachers, support for other teachers' development has not been adequate during the transition phase. The 2016 appraisal process was not completed. Provision of professional learning and development opportunities was limited. A revised process, to be put in place for 2017, has potential to better support teachers' and leaders' individual needs if implemented as intended.

Guidelines and expectations for key aspects of operation and practice continue to be updated and redeveloped by EEG. Work has recently been undertaken to redefine management support and develop systems that should promote consistency of practice, clear and shared understanding of expectations, and continuous improvement in this service. During this transition phase, however, teachers have not had easy access to the full range of guiding documents. Urgent action should be taken to address this.

Through their regular contact, managers informally monitor aspects of centre practice and operation. There is a need to develop and implement a systematic process that provides assurance that all legislative and EEG requirements are being met, and that consistent monitoring of practice is occurring at all levels.

Systems to support sustainable practice and operation have yet to be established. A vision to guide development and strategic direction for the centre is not yet in place. The priorities and plans being identified by EEG should be defined to provide direction for centre and staff development, regular reporting and planned internal evaluation. Desired outcomes need to be identified in key operational documents to enable the quality of practices and progress in meeting goals, at centre level, to be monitored. Further development of teachers' and managers' understanding and use of internal evaluation should be an immediate priority.

Key Next Steps

The head teacher and managers have identified, and ERO's evaluation affirms, that priorities for centre development are to:

  • finalise the philosophy statement and plans to embed the identified priorities into teaching and learning programmes

  • support understanding of te ao Māori and implementation of a bicultural curriculum

  • implement the revised appraisal process to include identification of individual teacher goals, focused constructive feedback and professional learning opportunities

  • develop and implement effective planning for the learning of individual children.

ERO's evaluation found the priority for management is to develop and action suitably defined systems to support sustainable practice and continuous improvement for the centre. These include support for:

  • teacher development linked to centre and individual priorities

  • long-term planning and reporting in relation to centre operational priorities

  • internal evaluation

  • quality assurance

  • leadership. 

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Leaps and Bounds New Plymouth 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to governance and management. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • provide information to parents about the amount and expenditure of Ministry of Education funding received by the service

  • carry out emergency drills for fire and earthquake with children, and record on at least a threemonthly basis. [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA3, HS8]

In order to improve practice, the service provider should ensure:

  • staff have ongoing access to a full range of policy guidelines

  • a suitable staff appraisal process is implemented.

Since the on-site stage of this ERO review, the non-compliance identified above, about Ministry of Education funding information, has been addressed.

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service consult with the Ministry of Education and plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report. 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Leaps and Bounds New Plymouth will be within two years.

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer (Acting)

29 May 2017 

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

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

50533

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

70 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll

86

Gender composition

Girls 43, Boys 43

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

21

42

8

15

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80% Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

1:5

Meets minimum requirements

Over 2

1:10

Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

29 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

 

Education Review

April 2014

Education Review

March 2011

Supplementary Review

March 2008

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 whānaungatanga – 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.