Niu Early Learning Centre - 12/08/2010

1. Background

Introduction

A Supplementary Review is undertaken at the discretion of a National Manager, Review Services in the Education Review Office (ERO).

A supplementary review evaluates the extent and effectiveness of actions a centre has taken towards addressing issues specified in a previous education review and/or any additional areas identified since that review.

This supplementary review report was prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

Terms of Reference

This supplementary review is based on an evaluation of the performance of the Tongan Kahau Ola Early Childhood Centre governing body and management in relation to areas identified in the January 2009 ERO report or issues identified since that review. The terms of reference for this review are to investigate:

  • the quality of education provided for children,
  • the quality of curriculum management;
  • the quality of centre self review;
  • the extent to which management has addressed health and safety matters; and
  • any other issues relevant to the management and operation of the centre that arise in the course of the review.

2. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Tongan Kahau Ola Early Childhood Centre is located in a residential area adjacent to the local primary school in the Christchurch suburb of Bishopdale. The new management, supervisor and staff have made significant developments in improving the programme and service provided for children from six months to five years of age. Over the last twelve months there have been changes to staffing and management, including a new supervisor and assistant supervisor. Staff and management have also participated in professional development in response to concerns identified in the 2009 ERO review. They have benefited from the oversight of the Ministry of Education’s Pacific support staff who have worked diligently alongside them to help improve the quality of early childhood education in the centre.

Children are confident, settled and their Tongan identity is affirmed. They have good support for acquisition and maintenance of Tongan language because adults constantly talk and interact with them using Tongan. There is a shared expectation among teachers that children will respond in Tongan. A next step is to encourage children to use Tongan more consistently when they interact with each other. Staff could also develop a language policy to make clear the centre’s expectations for the use of Tongan language.

The programme and learning environment strongly emphasises belonging to the centre and the Tongan community. Children participate in rich cultural practices that include tau’olunga (Tongan traditional dance), cooking Tongan delicacies and singing. Children actively participate in lotu (prayer) and recite memory verses from the Bible as Christianity is an important aspect of Tongan culture.

New leadership, particularly in the area for children under two years of age, has contributed positively to improvements in programme implementation. Children under two years of age engage in lots of talking, singing and laughter and a lovely gentle tone is evident. Children show that they are secure in a nurturing environment. They have good opportunities to be in the designated space provided or to join the older children in their programme.

The new management committee has improved practices and continues to be supportive of staff. Managers bring a variety of skills and experiences to their roles, including financial skills. Together with the staff they have undertaken professional development about self review and management planning. Management and staff have reviewed the centre’s philosophy, financial and personnel practices. They have identified that more consistent documentation of self review is the next step for ongoing improvement.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO will review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

3. Findings

Quality of Education

Background

The ERO 2009 review identified that staff did not have a strong culture of engaging children in learning. The report noted that adults seldom sustained conversations, the programme for children under two years needed development, staff needed to foster more interaction with babies, and the range of appropriate toys and equipment was too limited.

Since that review changes to staffing have occurred. Three of the five staff members are provisionally registered teachers. The assistant supervisor leads the programme for children under two years of age.

Areas of progress

Programme implementation. The programme provided for children shows significant progress. There is good support for acquisition and maintenance of Tongan language because adults constantly talk and interact with children. There is a shared expectation among teachers that children will respond using Tongan. A next step is to encourage children to use Tongan more consistently when they interact with each other. Staff could now develop a language policy to make clear the centre’s expectations for the use of Tongan language.

Interactions. Interactions with children have markedly improved. In particular, interactions with children under two years of age have shown significant progress. Relationships are warm and nurturing. Teachers show that they know children well and children are very trusting of teachers. Teachers in the designated under-two area engage in lots of talking, singing and laughter and a lovely gentle tone is evident. Children show that they are secure in a nurturing environment. They have good opportunities to be in the designated space provided or to join the older children’s programme.

Belonging. Children’s Tongan identity is affirmed. The programme and learning environment strongly emphasises belonging to the centre and Tongan community. Children participate in rich cultural practices that include tau’olunga (Tongan traditional dance) cooking Tongan delicacies and singing. Children actively participate in lotu (prayer) and reciting of memory verses from the Bible. The learning environment and programme also supports children from other cultural backgrounds such as Māori and Samoan.

Learning environment. The learning environment has greatly improved to facilitate children’s exploration, creativity and play. The environment is arranged in discrete curriculum areas with a wide variety of equipment to select from. Children have good access and opportunities to engage in outdoor play. New and good quality resources and equipment have been purchased. The thoughtfully rearranged layout of the environment promotes easy access and flow of play. A feature of the learning environment is the inclusion of Tongan resources and items in the attractive and exciting science and family play areas.

Areas for further improvement

Extending children’s interests. The supervisor and teachers should continue to develop teachers’ use of open-ended questioning to sustain and extend conversations with children and promote problem solving and negotiation skills.

Literacy. Teachers are beginning to incorporate early literacy learning experiences as part of the programme and now they need to continue to build on these. Teachers could continue to provide literacy learning as part of children’s play. They can review current practices and take pride in their capabilities as early childhood teachers to use effective practices that develop children’s early literacy skills in meaningful contexts. They could also provide more writing materials in different areas of play.

Curriculum Management

Background

The ERO 2009 report identified that teachers should ensure that assessment stories outlined children’s learning. It noted that programme planning did not document strategies to guide staff to facilitate children’s learning, and that more formal planning was needed to identify how children’s interests would be extended. The review also recommended that evaluation of the programme should critically reflect on the extent to which the planned strategies were successful.

Areas of progress

Planning, assessment and evaluation. Teachers have participated in professional development and have an established cycle for programme planning, assessment and evaluation.

Portfolios. Children’s portfolios show children’s learning over time. Regular entries are made and different perspectives are noted particularly for children under two years of age. Parents’ contributions are noted and encouraged, and there is good communication with parents about children’s individual learning and stage of growth and development.

Area for further improvement

Assessment and planning. To improve portfolios for children over two years of age, teachers need to document responses more consistently so as to see the progression of learning in following learning stories. Teachers should ensure that the links between learning stories and planning are clear and record details of how teachers plan to extend children’s interests.

The quality of self review

Background

The ERO 2009 review commented that staff had made very good progress in self review and should develop an ongoing cycle of review to cover all aspects of the centre’s operations.

Areas of progress

Professional development. Staff and management participated in whole centre professional development to build shared understandings about self review. In addition, two teachers are continuing with personal study that includes in-depth learning about self review. This good practice is likely to have a positive impact on centre self review.

Self-review practices. The supervisor has identified that while staff undertake frequent self review that focus on ongoing improvement, they now need to make review processes and outcomes more formal and consistent. Staff and management have reviewed the centre philosophy as a starting point and intend to align centre practices to this. They use a consultative process where parents and staff contribute. Self review informs strategic planning.

Financial and personnel practices. The new management committee has improved financial and personnel practices. The management committee has two members with relevant skills in accounting and appropriate training has been provided for the new administrator. A new computer programme has been adopted to help with efficient processing and tracking of funds. A financial handbook is in development. The management committee now has the accounts audited in a timely fashion.

Management has reviewed staff job descriptions and started the annual appraisal process. The supervisor is appraised externally. Management continue to support Tongan trained staff to gain recognised New Zealand early childhood qualifications, and ensure that provisionally registered teachers receive appropriate support and guidance to become fully registered. As part of their professional development the supervisor and assistant supervisor have good opportunities to visit other high quality early childhood centres in Christchurch to help with improving centre programme and practices.

Health and safety. All health and safety matters identified in the last ERO review have been addressed.

Areas for further improvement

Sustaining developments. A number of significant improvements have been made over the last twelve months and the challenge for centre staff and management is to sustain these developments. A critical part of sustaining developments is the role of the supervisor. Management could review the role to identify the most effective way that the supervisor’s role benefits outcomes for children. They should also ensure that they take steps to sustain the positive developments that have been achieved.

4. Recommendations

ERO and centre management agree with the recommendation that:

  • the supervisor and staff should continue with professional development to improve assessment, planning and evaluation and the links between them and to embed the good practices that have been already achieved.

5. Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO will review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

About the Centre

Type

Education and Care Services

Number licensed for

25 children, including up to 6 aged under 2

Roll number

25

Gender composition

Boys 14

Girls 11

Ethnic composition

Tongan 21, Samoan 3, and Cook Island Māori 1

Review team on site

June 2010

Date of this report

12 August 2010

Previous ERO reports

Education Review, January 2009

Education Review, November 2006

Education Review, June 2003

To the Parents and Community of Tongan Kahau Ola Early Childhood Centre

This supplementary review evaluates the quality of education and care received by the children and the performance of the centre’s management in relation to specific terms of reference.

The Education Review Office [ERO] evaluation of Tongan Kahau Ola Early Childhood Centre follows.

Tongan Kahau Ola Early Childhood Centre is located in a residential area adjacent to the local primary school in the Christchurch suburb of Bishopdale. The new management, supervisor and staff have made significant developments in improving the programme and service provided for children from six months to five years of age. Over the last twelve months there have been changes to staffing and management, including a new supervisor and assistant supervisor. Staff and management have also participated in professional development in response to concerns identified in the 2009 ERO review. They have benefited from the oversight of the Ministry of Education’s Pacific support staff who have worked diligently alongside them to help improve the quality of early childhood education in the centre.

Children are confident, settled and their Tongan identity is affirmed. They have good support for acquisition and maintenance of Tongan language because adults constantly talk and interact with them using Tongan. There is a shared expectation among teachers that children will respond in Tongan. A next step is to encourage children to use Tongan more consistently when they interact with each other. Staff could also develop a language policy to make clear the centre’s expectations for the use of Tongan language.

The programme and learning environment strongly emphasises belonging to the centre and the Tongan community. Children participate in rich cultural practices that include tau’olunga (Tongan traditional dance), cooking Tongan delicacies and singing. Children actively participate in lotu (prayer) and recite memory verses from the Bible as Christianity is an important aspect of Tongan culture.

New leadership, particularly in the area for children under two years of age, has contributed positively to improvements in programme implementation. Children under two years of age engage in lots of talking, singing and laughter and a lovely gentle tone is evident. Children show that they are secure in a nurturing environment. They have good opportunities to be in the designated space provided or to join the older children in their programme.

The new management committee has improved practices and continues to be supportive of staff. Managers bring a variety of skills and experiences to their roles, including financial skills. Together with the staff they have undertaken professional development about self review and management planning. Management and staff have reviewed the centre’s philosophy, financial and personnel practices. They have identified that more consistent documentation of self review is the next step for ongoing improvement.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO will review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

When ERO has reviewed an early childhood centre we encourage management to inform their community of any follow-up action they plan to do. You should talk to the management or licensee 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.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region