Weka Pre-School Ltd - 28/01/2016

1 Evaluation of Weka Pre-School Ltd

How well placed is Weka Pre-School Ltd 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

Weka Pre-School is a well-established education and care centre in the rural Southland town of Winton. The centre is licensed for up to 74 children, including 25 under the age of two.

As many children attend for the whole day, the teachers aim to make this feel like a home for them. The children are grouped by age into four learning 'lounges'. These are arranged so children can play and learn in small groups. The ratio of children to adults is kept low. Each child has a teacher who takes special responsibility for them and their family.

The owner is a qualified early childhood teacher and is the managing director. She is supported by an enthusiastic group of team leaders who lead the four learning lounges. The teaching team has a range of teaching experience and qualifications. Recent staff changes have been well managed by the managing director.

In 2015 a relocated house was added to the centre to make a new space for the oldest children. The leaders and teachers have made good progress in addressing the recommendations of the 2012 ERO report.

The Review Findings

Children and their families enjoy respectful and trusting relationships with their teachers. This is a key feature of the centre philosophy. The teachers foster a calm, unhurried and nurturing environment. The routines around sleeping, toileting and eating are largely decided by the individual children’s needs and preferences. Children play in small groups in a very settled way and show a strong sense of belonging at the centre.

The teachers place a high priority on getting to know children and their families well. They put their knowledge of children to good use to support them in their learning. For example, teachers have genuine conversations with children to:

  • help them develop their thinking and problem-solving skills
  • support their social skills
  • make meaningful links to their lives beyond the centre.

The child-centred programme is underpinned by the principles and strands of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. The teachers are clear about the most important things for children to learn. This allows them to plan their programmes with a sense of purpose. They are imaginative and creative in the way they set up the indoor and outdoor areas and make them inviting play spaces. Children are given many opportunities to:

  • make choices and decisions for themselves
  • develop their curiosity and creativity through using open-ended resources
  • learn respect for the natural environment
  • get to know their local community through frequent excursions.

Teachers promote kaupapa Māori concepts such as whanaungatanga and manaakitanga. Children hear and use some te reo Māori, enjoy waiata and participate in events such as Polyfest. Teachers are committed to providing a truly bicultural curriculum and agree this is a work in progress.

The learning and care needs of children under two are well provided for. Teachers maintain a calm and slow pace and involve children in care routines. They have close and loving relationships with the children and provide a language-rich environment. The indoor and outdoor areas are carefully set up to provide challenge and choice for children of this age. Teachers and parents share information daily.

As children get older they move to the next lounge. This change is carefully thought out to be a smooth transition for the children and their families. Teachers provide relevant information and advice for parents about matters such as sleeping, behaviour and how best to prepare children for school.

The teachers have developed useful systems for individual and group planning. They seek and respond to children’s ideas and interests to plan ongoing group projects. They are strengthening their systems to ensure planning for individuals. A recently introduced online portfolio system has resulted in more immediate two-way communication between teachers and whānau. Teachers take parents’ wishes into account when planning for children’s learning. Partnerships for learning would be strengthened by involving parents more fully when planning next steps for children’s learning.

The teachers recognise the growth in their self-review practices as a result of ongoing professional development. The spontaneous reviews have helped grow teachers’ ability to consider the effectiveness of their daily practice and have led to positive changes. A schedule needs to be developed for centre-wide planned reviews. Planned reviews would be more effective if the guiding questions and indicators were simpler and clearer.

The managing director has a clear vision for the centre. With external support she has developed a strategic plan with relevant goals to guide developments to support the vision. The strategic plan would benefit from aligning with other systems such as appraisal, professional development and self review to the goals. The managing director and leadership team are strongly focused on improving outcomes for children. They meet regularly to ensure the centre’s vision and values are upheld. They have clear expectations for teachers’ work. Teachers are involved in continuous reflection and goal setting to improve practice through the online appraisal system. Leaders have identified that they would like to adapt the appraisal system to the centre’s unique circumstances.

The managing director has established many effective systems to support the daily operations of the centre, although ERO found that aspects of health and safety practices need to be more carefully managed and documented.

Key Next Steps

The leaders and ERO agree that key next steps are to:

  • further develop the centre’s bicultural curriculum
  • continue to strengthen planning for individual children
  • align centre systems to support the strategic vision and goals
  • develop and implement a schedule for centre-wide planned self review.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Weka Pre-School Ltd 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Weka Pre-School Ltd will be in three years.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

28 January 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

Winton, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

65148

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

74 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll

124

Gender composition

Boys: 65

Girls: 59

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

European

Other

14

98

7

5

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

1:7

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

28 January 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

December 2012

 

Education Review

May 2009

 

Education Review

November 2005

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.