Stepping Stones Childcare Centre

Education institution number:
60232
Service type:
Education and Care Service
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
53
Telephone:
Address:

29 Seddon Street, Upper Hutt CBD, Upper Hutt

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1 Evaluation of Stepping Stones Childcare Centre

How well placed is Stepping Stones Childcare Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Stepping Stones Childcare Centre is well placed to promote positive outcomes for children.

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

Background

Stepping Stones Childcare Centre is a community based, not-for-profit early learning service located in Upper Hutt. It is licensed for 43 children, including 14 up to two years of age. The centre has two separate buildings and outdoor spaces, with a nursery for infants and toddlers and a preschool for older children. Of the total roll of 50, 11 children identify as Māori.

The philosophy focuses on links with the community, te reo Māori, and environmentally sustainable practices.

The centre is governed by a parent board of trustees. They contribute a range of skills, and are primarily focused on supporting the service with fundraising and events. Since ERO's February 2016 report, there has been some turnover of committee members.

Day-to-day management is delegated to a centre manager, with support from a nursery supervisor. Most teachers are fully registered. There has been low staff turnover, with many staff long serving. Regular relieving teachers are also employed to support continuity and consistency of provision for children.

ERO's previous report identified internal evaluation as an area requiring further development. Progress is evident. Since that time, the service has completed some refurbishment of indoor spaces and refreshed resources throughout the centre.

The Review Findings

Children are empowered to lead their own learning, make good decisions and follow their passions. The programme offers time and space for active movement and imaginative play. Care for the environment is a clear programme focus. Careful thought and research has gone into creating inviting learning spaces using open-ended and natural materials.

Teachers maintain good levels of engagement with children. They use a consistent, peaceful approach to actively build their social and emotional competence. Children play confidently as good friends.

Routines times are flexible and engaging, often spontaneous group times occur. Regular community excursions, family events and cultural celebrations enrich the curriculum and support the centre’s strong sense of whānau and manaakitanga.

Provision for infants and toddlers is well developed. The programme includes many opportunities for music, movement and sensory play. Care routines are child-led. Key teachers build close attachments to support individuals' preferences. Teachers are attuned to children’s unique interests and communication styles. Toddlers are well supported to be adventurous and caring. Tuakana teina relationships between older and younger peers are encouraged.

Children with diverse learning needs are very well supported. Teachers liaise well with parents and external agencies to enact individual plans and monitor progress.

Learning portfolios record aspects of children’s participation in the programme and possible learning pathways. They demonstrate that teachers know children and their families well. ERO and leadership agree that it is timely to strengthen assessment, planning and evaluation processes. A revised approach should include stronger emphasis on:

  • children’s cultures, languages and identities

  • responding to parents' aspirations for their children's learning

  • showing how teachers are implementing planned strategies to progress children’s learning.

Teachers are working as a team to support their understanding and implementation of the recently revised early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. Good consultation is underway to identify the learning that is valued by the community, which should support the team to add further depth to individual and group planning.

The bicultural curriculum is a strength of the centre. Leaders and teachers take personal responsibility for learning and implementing te reo Māori meaningfully into the programme. Positive outcomes are clearly evident in older children’s confidence in responding to, and using te reo, their mihimihi, waiata and karakia. A good relationship with the local marae offers children opportunities to engage with te ao Māori in meaningful, localised contexts. Leaders and teachers agree that they are now well placed to work alongside whānau to develop a range of specific practices to promote the success of Māori learners.

Responding to children's diverse cultures, languages and identities is a strategic priority for the service. Teachers are undertaking professional development to build practice in this area. ERO affirms this as a next step.

Children's transitions into, through and out of the centre are well supported. Purposeful relationship-building supports families' sense of belonging at these times. Planned opportunities for older children to work together and take responsibility for particular roles promote independence and readiness for primary school. Teachers liaise with schools through a local cluster group. They agree that the centre should strengthen its links with new entrant teachers to support further sharing of information.

Teachers are highly reflective, and committed to ongoing improvement. The well-considered appraisal process supports them to grow and share aspects of practice, aligned to strategic priorities. To maximise the impact on children’s outcomes, teacher inquiry should be further strengthened through:

  • increasing their focus on target children or groups

  • using measureable success indicators to show the impact of improved practices

  • linking formal teacher observations to targets and indicators

  • ensuring observations occur twice yearly and are discussed, with a focus on critique.

Teachers are actively building a shared understanding of internal evaluation. To further support decisions about change and improvement, evaluations should be more sharply focused on indicators of success to ensure a clear, manageable process.

Leadership uses very well-considered strategies to build a team culture of professional engagement and high expectations. A distributed approach to leadership is developing, where teachers can learn new skills and take on increased responsibility.

The trustee board is supportive of leaders and teachers. A range of teacher professional development is funded to benefit children. Parents and whānau are closely involved with the service. As a next step, ERO and trustees agree that it is timely to better define governance and management roles. A work plan should be also developed to support responsive action and reporting, in relation to strategic priorities.

Key Next Steps

To enhance practice, leaders, teachers and trustees should:

  • strengthen assessment, planning and evaluation processes

  • continue building culturally responsive practices

  • focus on evaluating the impact of teacher practice on children's outcomes

  • further clarify governance and management responsibilities.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Stepping Stones Childcare 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Stepping Stones Childcare Centre will be in three years.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

27 February 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

Upper Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

60232

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

43 children, including up to 14 aged under 2

Service roll

50

Gender composition

Boys 27, Girls 23

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Other ethnic groups

11
33
6

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

1:6

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2018

Date of this report

27 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2016

Education Review

May 2013

Education Review

April 2010

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.

1 Evaluation of Stepping Stones Childcare Centre

How well placed is Stepping Stones Childcare Centre 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

Stepping Stones Community Centre is licensed for 42 children, including 14 up to two years of age. Nine children identify as Māori. The centre has been providing for families and children in the Upper Hutt community for over thirty years. It has two separate buildings and playgrounds, with a nursery for children aged up to two and a preschool for those over two years of age.

The centre is governed by a trust committee largely made up of parents. The centre manager is responsible for the day-to-day management and two supervisors have oversight for the nursery and preschool. Almost all the teachers are trained and registered teachers and there has been a low staff turnover.

The centre has a positive reporting history with ERO. The May 2013 ERO report identified the need to strengthen learning partnerships with families and extend children’s learning through the programme.

Since that time, teachers in the nursery have continued to develop the primary caregiver/key teacher approach. Teachers in the preschool have refined key teaching responsibilities, developed a four-year-old programme and introduced online learning stories for families. The centre has also achieved the gold star healthy heart award.

The Review Findings

Children experience a high quality, well-considered curriculum. It is based on their emerging interests and needs, and provides appropriate challenge. Early literacy and mathematics skills are developed, together with investigation, problem solving and social competencies. Children are happy and settled with a strong sense of belonging apparent.

Child-initiated play is clearly evident. Children happily explore the thoughtfully developed indoor and outside environments. Their independence is fostered and well supported. The outdoor environment provides appropriate physical challenges, as well as opportunities for creative and imaginative play. Children confidently seek help from teachers as they explore.

Teachers know the children and their families well. They gather information from parents and whānau on enrolment, through surveys and discussions. As a result, teachers are aware of children’s diverse needs and interests and are skilled at noticing, recognising and responding through programme planning. The key teacher approach supports this development.

Interactions between children and teachers are positive, sensitive and responsive. Children up to two years are well cared for and learn in a calm, settled environment. The pace is unhurried and relationships are warm and respectful. Teachers follow each child’s routines. This fosters children’s wellbeing and sense of security.

Strong consideration is given to the centre’s bicultural programme. Regular use of te reo Māori is integrated naturally throughout the day. Older children are developing confidence to use simple words and phrases and share their mihi with their peers.

Māori whānau share the aspirations they have for their children to be successful as Māori. This information is used to inform planning, with evidence of progress shared through each child’s learning stories.

Families are well informed about their child’s learning and wellbeing. Planning and photographic evidence is displayed. Learning stories and photographs are shared with families through their child’s profile books and are sent to parents online. Family members are encouraged to provide feedback. This helps promote partnership for each child’s learning and wellbeing.

Transitions into the centre, between the nursery and preschool, and on to school are effective. There is regular communication between families and key teachers, and between teachers when children transition into the preschool. Greater emphasis is given to preparing older children for school through an interesting range of activities to extend thinking.

The centre is well governed and managed with an emphasis on continuous improvement. Strategic and annual plans are comprehensive. The centre manager and supervisors provide strong, knowledgeable leadership. They work collaboratively with the teaching team to further enhance outcomes for children.

Many aspects of effective internal evaluation are evident. Spontaneous and planned reviews are undertaken and well documented. Through this process, teachers regularly reflect on practices to promote improvement. They are supported by an appraisal process that identifies strengths and provides opportunities for targeted professional learning and development.

Key Next Steps

To support continuous improvement the next steps for development are to ensure:

  • planned reviews evaluate the impact of developments. Including a schedule for planned reviews in the annual plan is likely to support closer alignment between ongoing development and an evaluation of its effectiveness
  • self review and appraisal policies and procedures are updated in partnership with trust members, managers and teachers. This should help promote shared understanding about effective internal evaluation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Stepping Stones Childcare 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Stepping Stones Childcare Centre will be in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

29 February 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

Upper Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

60232

Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

42 children, including up to 14 aged under 2

Service roll

50

Gender composition

Boys 29, Girls 21

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Cook Island Māori

Samoan

Other ethnic groups

9

34

2

1

4

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

1:6

Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2015

Date of this report

29 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2013

 

Education Review

April 2010

 

Education Review

February 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.