The Pentagon Early Learning Centre - 24/04/2019

1 Evaluation of The Pentagon Early Learning Centre

How well placed is The Pentagon Early Learning Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

The Pentagon Early Learning Centre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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

Background

The Pentagon Early Learning Centre is a privately-owned service situated in Tamahere, on the outskirts of Hamilton. The centre provides education and care for children from birth to school age. It is licensed for 90 children, including 25 aged up to two years. The current roll of 93 children includes seven who identify as Māori.

The centre is purpose built and opened in July 2017. A full licence for education and care was granted in December 2018. The Ministry of Education have indicated that they will provide support to enhance the centre's bicultural curriculum.

The owners of the centre have strategic oversight and direct responsibility for governance, health and safety, and human resources. One of the owners is currently acting as centre manager. Significant changes in personnel have occurred since the opening of the centre.

The indoor and outdoor environments are spacious, located in a large rural setting, and include three age-based rooms known as Nursery, Toddlers and Preschool. Children move freely within these areas, exploring and following their interests.

The centre’s philosophy was collaboratively developed with the foundation team of staff at the time of opening. The key concepts that underpin the service curriculum are establishing:

  • learning-focused and responsive relationships with whānau

  • a family-friendly environment that is child led

  • meaningful play that supports exploration and discovery in the natural world.

This is the first report for this centre.

The Review Findings

Children are independent and their choices for play are valued. A strong focus of manaakitanga for children and their whānau is highly evident. Children’s creativity and problem solving are actively encouraged. Positive interactions and nurturing relationships between teachers and children support a strong sense of belonging and security.

Responsive caregiving contributes to quality education and care for children up to the age of two. Teachers are respectful of individual children’s nonverbal cues and preferences. A purposefully designed environment promotes exploration, challenge and discovery. Calm and unhurried teaching interactions empower these very young children to learn and develop at their own pace.

Children's transition into and through the centre are well considered. Teachers respond to children’s readiness and support their confidence in self management. The centre consults parents to ensure their preferences guide settling and transition processes. The centre is establishing relationships with local schools to strengthen children's transitions out of the centre.

An inclusive culture celebrates and acknowledges learners' diverse needs. Leaders and teachers work alongside parents to prepare and implement meaningful experiences and strategies. Individual learning plans guide teachers to provide appropriate strategies and opportunities. Leaders and teachers support children with additional needs well to fully participate and engage in the programme.

Teachers know children and whānau well. Teachers engage with children in focused learning conversations and use open-ended questioning to promote children's ideas and thinking. The spacious and well-resourced environment supports curiosity, challenge, risk taking, and active play. A clear focus on supporting children’s oral language, literacy and numeracy is evident.

A wide range of opportunities and provocations supports a rich curriculum. Excursions into the local community and surrounding farm land extend children’s learning experiences. The centre has identified the need to extend the use of te reo and tikanga Māori centre wide. A leadership team focused on bicultural practices has been established to lead this improvement.

Learning portfolios reflect and celebrate individual children’s interests and strengths. Parents appreciate these documents as evidence of children’s engagement and participation in play. Assessment, planning and evaluation has been recently reviewed by leaders and teachers. It is timely to develop clear expectations and frameworks to guide and embed a coherent approach to assessment and planning. This should enhance the visibility of:

  • recording children’s progress and continuity of learning over time

  • children's cultures, languages and identities

  • partnerships for learning, alongside parents and whānau.

Leaders and teachers have recognised the need to implement clear systems and processes to guide centre operations. A collaborative approach to decision making and capacity building of the teaching team is developing. The recently introduced programme to guide induction and mentoring of provisionally certificated teachers is responsive to teacher needs. Professional learning and development is focused on centre-wide improvement.

Extending leaders' and teachers' understanding of effective self review is needed. To build consistency of practice for high-quality education and care, centre-wide evaluation should include:

  • articulating the reasons for changing systems and practices

  • researching current theory to guide desired changes for improvement

  • identifying the intended outcomes as a result of making these changes.

The centre owners are proactively developing a collaborative and cohesive leadership structure and teaching team. They are responsive to staff needs and wellbeing. Robust policies and procedures have been developed. Strategic and annual plans provide a clear direction for the centre. The philosophy of the centre is purposefully interwoven through decision-making and centre operations.

Key Next Steps

To support and build ongoing improvements the key next steps for the centre are to strengthen:

  • bicultural practice across the centre

  • teachers' understanding and implementation of effective self review, assessment, planning and evaluation processes

  • the collaborative and cohesive team approach to providing high-quality education and care centre wide.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of The Pentagon 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:

  • 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.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

24 April 2019

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

Tamahere, Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

47269

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

90 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll

93

Gender composition

Girls 48 Boys 45

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Other

7
75
11

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

1:4

Better than minimum requirements

Over 2

1:8

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2019

Date of this report

24 April 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.