Wellington Early Intervention Centre - 28/08/2019

1 Evaluation of Wellington Early Intervention Centre

How well placed is Wellington Early Intervention Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Wellington Early Intervention Centre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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

Background

Wellington Early Intervention Centre (WEIC) is a community-based service for preschool children with special education needs. It is contracted by the Ministries of Education and Health to provide therapy and teaching programmes for families living in the greater Wellington region. The centre is licensed for five children, including five aged up to two years. Of the 39 children enrolled, five are Māori. Children usually attend the centre once a week with a family member.

The service is governed by the Wellington Early Intervention Trust which employs a coordinator and administration officer to manage day-to-day operations. A team of therapists and teachers provide early intervention programmes, speech/language and music therapies, and physiotherapy. The WEIC team liaises closely with early childhood services and oversees a team of Education Support Workers supporting children in centres. Since the May 2016 ERO report, there have been changes in staff, including the coordinator. New staff were employed when the service extended its licensed hours.

The centre's philosophy emphasises the importance of collaboration, inclusiveness, advocacy, and fostering a child’s joyful quality of life. A key focus for staff is enabling and empowering families in their engagement with their child's learning.

Some progress has been made in responding to the key next steps identified in the May 2016 ERO report to formalise and document a framework for internal evaluation, and for appraisal. This included ensuring that the appraisal of the service coordinator was completed annually. Aspects of these still require improvement.

The Review Findings

While philosophical values are clearly evident in practice, with changes in personnel and families, it is timely to revisit the services valued outcomes. A shared understanding of these is likely to be achieved through integrating a focus on improving teachers’ understanding and implementation of Te Whāriki (2017), the revised NZ early childhood curriculum.

Well-developed, supportive relationships are evident between teachers, therapists, parents and whānau. Input from families is valued and regularly sought to support decisions about change and improvement to operation. Close collaboration between WEIC staff and families promotes consistently positive outcomes for children.

Highly skilled therapists and teachers effectively support children’s engagement and participation in the programme. Their interactions with families are warm, respectful and purposeful. Children have choices and fun as part of the learning process, and generally settle quickly into the routines of the day.

Children have carefully considered individual development plans which are collaboratively constructed by families, teachers and therapists. A recent review refined the format to better support parents’ understanding. Children’s interests, dispositions and learning styles are acknowledged in their goals. Literacy, mathematics, communication and physical activity are effectively integrated and aligned to each child’s developmental needs. Children’s progress is closely monitored, recorded and regularly celebrated.

Transitions into the service and onto school are sensitively facilitated with families. Children’s wellbeing and a sense of belonging are prioritised. Their transitions to school are carefully undertaken over time in consultation with early childhood services. The regular review of transition processes is responsive to parents' views and child outcomes.

Staff seek information about children’s cultures, languages and identities prior to learning plans being put in place. Translation services are offered for families with English as a second language. A number of staff use short phrases in te reo Māori when they work with children. The coordinator agrees that further work needs to be undertaken to strengthen cultural responsiveness across the service.

Teachers and therapists are highly focused on facilitating children's progress. They benefit from a range of professional learning opportunities to support their multi-disciplinary approach. Regular peer observations, collaborative reflections and critique inform decisions about their next development steps.

The appraisal process for teachers does not meet Teaching Council requirements. Immediate priority should be given to ensuring teachers meet Standards for the Teaching Profession and receive regular feedback from their appraiser focused on their developmental priorities. While the coordinator now benefits from an appraisal, the process lacks rigour. Implementing focused observations and feedback in relation to development goals and management responsibilities should strengthen the approach.

Staff follow the Ministry of Education Specialist Service Standards pathway as a basis for the review of aspects of practice. A key next step is to understand and implement internal evaluation to better support decisions about development and change.

The board is highly supportive of staff and families. Trustees provide good governance for aspects of the service operation. They are well informed about centre happenings and events through the coordinator reports and take an active role in policy review. In order to promote a more sustainable approach to operation further consideration should be given to:

  • the board’s involvement in the identification of strategic goals and decisions about the future direction of the service

  • strengthening succession planning and guidelines for the work of trustees.

Key Next Steps

Priorities for development are to:

  • ensure Te Whāriki (2017), the revised NZ early childhood curriculum, is implemented into teaching and learning

  • improve the appraisal process

  • strengthen culturally responsive practice

  • develop understanding and use of internal evaluation

  • strengthen governance, including ensuring effective systems are in place for managing compliance with early childhood licensing requirements.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Wellington Early Intervention 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to health and safety. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following area:

  • emergency evacuation drills are undertaken as required.

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS8.

In order to improve current practice the service provider should ensure:

  • all operational procedures are regularly reviewed

  • guidelines for staff appointments, in relation to identity checking, are clarified.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

28 August 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

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

55372

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

5 children, including up to 5 aged under 2

Service roll

39

Gender composition

Males 26, Females 13

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/Pākehā
Asian
Other ethnic groups

5
25
8
1

Percentage of qualified teachers

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

1:1

Better than minimum requirements

Over 2

1:1

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

28 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2016

Education Review

June 2013

Education Review

September 2008

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.