Seedlings Education - 12/10/2012

1 The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

The newly formed Seedlings Education Ltd is owned by four director/owners. It operates a well organised home-based education and care service throughout the greater Auckland area. A comprehensive management framework and systems, policies and procedures underpin the service. The staff and educators share a philosophical belief in the benefits of home-based education and care, and a commitment to support children in the home. Coordinators support educators with tools, resources and professional advice that promote children’s learning through play.

Educators provide care and education for children from infancy to school-age. Children are provided with good quality equipment and resources to support their play, physical comfort and development needs. Parents contacted in the course of this review express high levels of support, trust and satisfaction with the educator and the service provided for their children.

Coordinators visit homes regularly to evaluate children’s learning, monitor health and safety provisions, and support educators to provide education and care. Regular playgroup events, excursions and professional development opportunities are provided for children and parents. Coordinators use these opportunities to plan individual learning which focuses on children’s strengths and interests.

Communication and parent participation processes are developing, and owners continue to seek the aspirations and contributions of parents. Owners agree that they now need to develop regular and robust self review to help coordinators and educators ensure that children receive good quality education and care.

Future Action

ERO will review the service again in 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

Educators provide care for a maximum of four children. Coordinators with recognised early childhood qualifications provide professional support for educators. This review of Seedlings Education Ltd is its first ERO review. Review findings are informed by documentation, visits to homes that were selected by the service, interviews with educators, and feedback and discussions with parents.

Areas of good performance

Outcomes for children. Relationships between adults and children are caring, affectionate and trusting. Most children have opportunities to meet other children through playgroups, library visits, and attendance at music group. Children play indoors and outdoors with a variety of good quality equipment. There are examples of highly skilled carers who provide a positive learning environment that encourages children to be confident in their own culture and to develop an understanding and respect of other cultures.

Education and care. Educators use Seedlings' Education Kits and resources to complement their own resources. The kits provide purposeful learning activities and good support for children’s learning is evident. During monthly visits by coordinators, children’s progress and developmental needs are discussed. Most homes visited had a sufficient and suitable range of activities for children, including those for both indoor and outdoor experiences. Educators have access to professional learning through monthly playgroup activities and through other professional development opportunities provided by the service.

Programme planning and assessment. The programme is currently focused on planning for individual children. There are good systems and processes to guide documentation about children’s learning and progress. Educators regularly record children’s progress for parents and coordinators, and these records show a range of activities and experiences that have been enjoyed by children. Educators and coordinators discuss children's individual milestones regularly to set achievable goals. Educators could now further promote children’s thinking by more frequently engaging children in sustained conversations to extend their emerging interests.

Partnerships with families. Parents' aspirations for their children are acknowledged and respected. Regular opportunities, both formal and informal, are provided for parents to communicate with educators and coordinators about their child. Adequate information is made available to parents.

Leadership and management systems. Seedlings Education owners and staff work collaboratively to ensure that leadership and management systems provide a good quality home-based care and education for children. Policies are in place to guide practices and procedures and owners keep regular contact with coordinators and educators to monitor implementation. A well documented framework of information provides clear guidelines for parents and educators.

Areas for development and review

Promoting learning through play. Coordinators should be more familiar with Te Whāriki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, and should provide clear information to educators about their role in following children’s interests and extending their language and learning. Once educators are engaging children in rich discussions about their interests, coordinators can begin to support them to document their observations. Improvements in this area should strengthen assessment and planning practices and help educators to be more evaluative about strategies needed to extend children’s learning.

Health and safety. Seedlings owners agree that they could strengthen communication about their expectations that coordinators will provide support for educators in addressing concerns relating to children’s health and safety. To further promote the health and safety of children in their care, educators should:

  • secure equipment that could fall or topple on children
  • eliminate, isolate and minimise hazards that could impact on the safety of children
  • ensure that all animals on the premises are restrained
  • consider the assessment and management of risks when planning for trips, outings and excursions.

Success for Māori. Staff acknowledge the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua. ERO and Seedlings owners agree that they could strengthen their approaches for promoting the bicultural heritage of New Zealand. Owners also agree that they could include more tikanga Māori in their programme and further promote cultural awareness for all children.

Self review. An ongoing process of self-review helps owners maintain and improve the quality of education and care provided for children. Agreed next steps for further developing self review include:

  • developing a shared understanding of the expectations outlined in the Ministry of Education’s Licensing Criteria for Home Based Education and Care Services, 2008.
  • developing a shared understanding of the expectations of home-based care and education for children and families
  • ensuring that job descriptions provide clear guidelines for educators and coordinators
  • involving parents, educators and coordinators more in decision making, in reviewing policy and procedures, and in other self-review processes
  • having coordinators take more responsibility for modelling good teaching practice during home visits and at playgroups
  • ensuring that records are used effectively to review the quality of the learning programmes and set appropriate next steps for the programme.

3 Management Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

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

  • curriculum standard
  • premises and facilities standard
  • health and safety practices standard
  • governance management and administration standard.

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.

4 Recommendations

ERO recommends that Seedlings Education owners and staff strengthen their practice and work collaboratively to address areas for development and review identified in this report.

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 in three years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

12 October 2012

About the Service

Location

Papakura

Ministry of Education profile number

45559

Licence type

Home-Based Care

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Service roll

44

Gender composition

Girls 24 Boys 20

Ethnic composition

NZ European/ Pākehā

Māori /NZ European

Scottish

NZ Chinese

NZ/Māori/Dutch

Indian/European

34

1

2

3

2

2

Review team on site

June 2012

Date of this report

12 October 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports