Westlake Forrest Hill Kindergarten - 14/12/2016

1 Evaluation of Westlake Forrest Hill Kindergarten

How well placed is Westlake Forrest Hill Kindergarten 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

Westlake Forrest Hill Kindergarten is a well-established service that is licensed for 40 children over two years old. It operates the kindergarten day model which enables children to attend sessions similar to school hours, or four hour morning sessions. Only 20 children remain for the afternoon programme.

All the teachers are qualified and fully registered and have worked together as a collaborative team for more than two years. They have established positive relationships with the kindergarten community and are responsive to several families whose first language is not English. Teachers are also participating in an extended professional development course to enhance their bicultural practices and use of te reo Māori. These commitments are reflected in the kindergarten philosophy statement and align well with teachers' intent to build on children's individual needs, strengths and interests.

In 2013 ERO identified several positive features of the service. Effective relationships, shared leadership and a well resourced environment supported children to engage well in activities, communicate eagerly and show interest in early literacy, maths and science. ERO recommended improvements in assessment portfolios, and the extent to which children engage in complex play. Teachers continue to make progress in both these areas.

The kindergarten is part of the Auckland Kindergarten Association (AKA), which provides a governance and management framework, and support personnel to assist the kindergarten. The 2015 restructure of Association leadership roles has been reviewed and has resulted in the further re-allocation of roles. There continues to be a period of transition for all Association staff as they adapt to new systems and responsibilities.

This review was part of a cluster of seven reviews in the Auckland Kindergarten Association. 

The Review Findings

Children are happy and settled in the kindergarten. They confidently make choices about their play and many work cooperatively with their peers. Children engage well in conversation, at times using languages other than English. They benefit from opportunities to develop leadership and self-help skills and are confident to play independently and take learning risks. Children are developing meaningful friendships and becoming familiar with aspects of tikanga and te reo Māori.

Teachers encourage children to develop their own ideas for play. They provide a very well resourced environment and use questions and suggestions to foster children's ideas and exploration. Teachers have established an 'Ako Wero' small group programme to provide a collaborative challenge for the oldest children in the few weeks before they leave for school. This initiative engages children in sustained projects that often incorporate meaningful literacy and maths tasks and fosters their enthusiasm for learning. Teachers could now expand this model to involve more children over longer periods and so it occurs more frequently in the programme. In this way they could provide more consistent, challenging experiences that may be adapted to suit children's different learning interests and developmental levels.

Teachers plan activities and resources to support children's emerging interests. They record learning experiences they have noticed and informally evaluate the effectiveness of programmes. Teachers have identified that they want to further develop children's working theories and support their leadership skills. This development would provide a good opportunity for teachers to become more deliberate in their planning and evaluation and focus more on their roles as teachers in extending children's learning. Teachers have made a positive start to enhancing learning through their focus on children's learning dispositions in assessment records, and by their efforts to analyse the quality of children's experiences.

Parents are interested partners in their children's learning. Teachers actively foster family involvement through a parents’ support group, regular informal discussions and through surveys that enable parents to share their aspirations. Most parents use the digital portal to comment on learning stories or to provide teachers with feedback. Parents who were interviewed by ERO are enthusiastic about the opportunities their children have at the kindergarten, the relationships they have with teachers, and that they are happy in the environment. They value how well teachers know their children and support them to be independent learners.

The kindergarten is well managed. The head teacher is an experienced leader who values teachers' different strengths and interests and shares responsibilities with them. Together they use their strategic action plan well to operate the centre and achieve goals that align with Association expectations. Teachers value the Association support network and benefit from the range of professional development provided by the Association. They have established meaningful internal evaluation processes that include a regular review cycle, spontaneous review, and strategic evaluations that are sustained over time. 

Key Next Steps

The teachers and the Association Education Specialist agree that the key next steps for the kindergarten’s development should include:

  • reviewing and improving programme planning in conjunction with a focus on developing children's working theories
  • developing more deliberate teaching throughout the programme to challenge children's thinking and add complexity to their learning
  • working with the Association to further develop the evidence they gather to support their appraisal process
  • continuing to develop and strengthen bicultural practices through the Whakamanawa professional development programme.

The AKA is continuing to review and refine its policies and procedures, including those for teacher appraisal and the endorsement of teachers’ practising certificates.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Westlake Forrest Hill Kindergarten 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.

In order to further improve health and safety practices teachers should establish risk management strategies in relation to children climbing the large tree. 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Westlake Forrest Hill Kindergarten will be in three years. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

14 December 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

Milford, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

5111

Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll

61

Gender composition

Boys 33, Girls 28

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Japanese
Chinese
Korean
Tongan

  6
39
  6
  5
  4
  1

Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates

80%

Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2

1:10

Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

14 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

October 2013

Education Review

June 2010

Education Review

May 2007

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.