Montessori for Children - 27/09/2016

1 Evaluation of Montessori for Children

How well placed is Montessori for Children 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

Montessori for Children is a privately owned, early childhood service in St Kilda, providing Montessori education for children aged two-to-six years. As a result of community demand, the service has recently started a Montessori programme in a separate room for two-to-three year old toddlers.

The owner has high expectations of herself, the team and for children’s learning, and is passionate about her service and the Montessori approach.

The service has made good progress in addressing the recommendations in the 2013 ERO report. The owner and teachers have received professional development on self review and established a useful framework to guide the process. They have conducted a range of spontaneous reviews leading to a number of changes and improvements to the environment and teaching practice.

Planning and assessment records now clearly show the teachers' intentions for children’s learning and the progress children are making. They show how teachers support progress and achievement and what teachers will do next to further extend children's learning.

The Review Findings

Children are supported to learn within the well-managed Montessori curriculum. Teaching practices support the implementation of the centre statement and programme philosophy very well. Teachers are passionate about their work and collaborate effectively as a team. They work within a calm, well-resourced indoor and outdoor environment to support children to become capable, confident and independent learners.

The small group size combined with the structure of the Montessori programme enables the teachers to know the children well. Children are settled and engaged in their learning. They confidently make choices, approach teachers for help and enjoy the friendships they have with one another.

Teachers believe in the importance of having close relationships with parents and other whānau. Many families enjoy being involved in social events and centre outings. The owner talks regularly with parents to build a shared understanding about their children and their lives at home. Teachers' records of children's learning are now being sent home on a more regular basis so families can see the progress their children are making, and can support this further when children are at home. 

Te ao Māori is valued. The teachers include Māori perspectives, te reo, waiata and mihi as a regular part of the centre programme. Some teachers are more confident with this than others, so building children’s familiarity with New Zealand's bicultural heritage needs to be an ongoing focus for teachers and children.

Teachers are responsive to the learning and behaviour needs of all children. They are quick to notice where children need guidance and role modelling. They collaborate to develop appropriate ways to support children to be engaged in learning, communicate well and have success in the programme.  The programme has a strong emphasis on literacy, mathematics and life skills, and includes specialised sessions for music, art and drama.

Teachers base their programme planning around themes developed from the children’s interests, teachers' assessment information and the Montessori curriculum. The topics studied become the vehicle for teachers to extend children’s learning through carefully chosen activities and learning experiences. There is also regular planning for individuals. Teachers seek the parents' and child's voice when looking for evidence of learning progress.

In the recently established 'wee casa' room for children aged from two-to-three years, teachers are particularly focused on children’s emerging language and social development. Now that the room is up and running, it is timely to evaluate how well it works as a space for young children and their specific needs.

The owner and teachers at Montessori for Children are clear about their purpose and approach. There are effective systems in place to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the service. The strategic plan has been useful in guiding the service’s way forward. Developments have been focused on children and on continually improving the programme and environment.

The owner and ERO agree that the next steps for the service are to continue to build on the progress made with internal evaluation (self review). This includes:

  • ensuring reviews are evaluative
  • better analysis of the evidence collected against best practice indicators at all stages of the review process.

Key Next Steps

The owner also needs to meet requirements in terms of police vetting and appraisals. She needs to:

  • develop written procedures for a rigorous appraisal process that aligns with the Education Council requirements [GMA7]
  • complete the police vetting of non-registered staff in line with the requirements of the Vulnerable Children's Act 2014 and ensure there is a system to regularly update these [GMA7A].

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Montessori for Children 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.

ERO discussed with the owner how best to manage nappy changing in the 'wee casa' room.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Montessori for Children will be in three years. 

Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

27 September 2016 

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

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

83018

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

68 children aged over 2

Service roll

24

Gender composition

Girls: 13

Boys: 11

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Tongan
Other European

  4
18
  1
  1

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2

1:10

Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

27 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2013

Education Review

February 2010

Education Review

October 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.