Ako Early Childhood Centre - 24/11/2011

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

The AKO Early Learning Centre (previously known as Middleton Early Learning Centre) is one of five centres administered by the Dunedin Community Childcare Association (DCCA). The centre has an all-day programme that caters for children up to five years of age. In January 2010, the centre relocated to a renovated building close by. The outdoor area is still being developed. Since the last review there have been a number of staff changes to the leadership team.

The focus of this review is the quality of education. This covers the quality of the programme, learning environment, interactions and the way these contribute to children’s learning and development. As with all early childhood services currently being reviewed, ERO is investigating aspects of health and safety and how the centre provides care and education for children with moderate to severe special needs.

Children enjoy warm and caring relationships with their teachers. There is a sense of community and good levels of parent support and involvement in the centre. The teachers provide an interesting range of experiences and activities for children to enjoy. The children play well together and generally play meaningfully without the need for adult support. At times teachers have good quality conversations with children to extend and support their learning.

Other aspects of the centre that support children’s learning are:

  • a developing collaborative team culture and shared philosophy
  • teachers noticing and responding to children’s interests and development
  • well established centre routines
  • the high level of professional support the centre receives from the DCCA.

Teachers provide a well managed, safe environment in which children play and learn. Teachers have recently trialled a new system for programme planning. Further development is needed to ensure that the programme develops and extends children’s learning and provides effectively for children of diverse needs and mixed ages in particular toddlers. The scope of self review needs to broaden to include:

  • embedding into documentation the seeking of parents’ aspirations for their children’s learning
  • developing bicultural practices and incorporating Māori perspectives into learning programmes
  • ensuring that over time, all aspects that contribute to a high quality learning environment are reviewed.

The managers and teachers agreed to develop an action plan to implement the recommendations in this report.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

All ERO education reviews in early childhood focus on the quality of education. For ERO this includes the quality of:

  • the programme provided for children
  • the learning environment
  • the interactions between children and adults.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

The Quality of Education

Background

The centre was renamed and relocated to a nearby renovated building in January 2010. The outdoor area is still being developed. The centre provides care and education for children in a mixed-age setting. There have been a number of staff changes since the last review.

Findings

Children benefit from positive and caring relationships with their teachers. Children and their families have a strong sense of belonging in the centre and families actively contribute to centre life. The teachers are responsive to the families and effectively communicate with them. The children play well with one another and have developed some strong friendships. They know the routines and expectations of the centre. Children play independently and together for sustained periods.

Teachers notice, recognise and record children’s interests and development. They provide a range of resources and experiences to build these, for example science real-life experiences, and an active movement programme. Some teachers have good quality interactions with children to help them in their learning. For example, ERO observed teachers extending and supporting children’s dramatic play.

The teachers have made a good start to developing a collaborative team culture and shared philosophy. They are developing some effective self-review processes. The DCCA provides a high level of ongoing support for the centre.

Areas for development and review

Focus on learning. The teachers need to improve the quality of the programme planning and evaluation. Written records do not clearly identify what the specific learning intentions are for individual children.

The team have yet to identify the strategies they will use to achieve the intended learning and record the aspirations parents have for their children. As a result, it is not clear how teachers are addressing the specific learning needs of individual and groups of children in the programme, for example, the needs of toddlers.

Bicultural practices and the inclusion of Māori perspectives. Children would benefit from a programme that includes greater use of te reo Māori and a bicultural dimension.

Self review. The teachers and managers have some good self-review processes. The next step is to broaden the scope of reviews to ensure that critical aspects of teaching and learning continue to be improved.

This includes:

  • further developing the centre philosophy
  • the consistency and quality of interactions for learning
  • further developing the curriculum in a mixed-age setting.

3. National Evaluation Topic

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole through its national reports. This information will be used as the basis for long term and systemic educational improvement.

Inclusion of children with moderate to severe special needs

As part of this review ERO evaluated the extent to which:

  • transitions ensure the continuing wellbeing, learning, and development of children with moderate to severe special needs
  • children with moderate to severe special needs supported to be confident and capable learners
  • the service is inclusive of children with moderate to severe special needs.

Background

Currently there is one child enrolled at the centre with special needs.

Areas of strength

The DCCA provides good support to help the teachers identify and respond to children with special needs. The managers help the teachers gain access to external agencies, expertise and resources in the association.

The teachers place a high priority on establishing effective relationships with the children and their families. They share information with each other about the learning requirements of children with special needs and adapt the programme as necessary to best meet those needs.

4. Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of AKO Early Learning Centre completed an ERO CentreAssurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • administration
  • health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial and property management.

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records of recent use of procedures. ERO also checked elements of the following areas that have a potentially high impact on outcomes for children:

  • emotional safety (including behaviour management, prevention of bullying and abuse)
  • physical safety (including behaviour management, sleeping and supervision practices; accidents and medication; hygiene and routines; travel and excursion policies and procedures)
  • staff qualifications and organisation
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

ERO found no areas of non-compliance or health and safety concerns.

5. Recommendations

ERO and the centre managers agree that they need to:

  • improve the quality of group and individual programme planning and evaluation
  • strengthen their use of te reo Māori and integrate a bicultural dimension into the programmes
  • broaden the scope of self review
  • develop an action plan to address the recommendations in this report.

6. Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

About the Centre

Type

All Day Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

 

Number licensed for

32 children, including up to10 aged under 2

Roll number

38

Gender composition

Boys 24

Girls 14

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 24

Māori 9

Cook Island 1

Samoan 1

Other Pacific 1

Thai 1

British 1

Review team on site

September 2011

Date of this report

24 November 2011

Previous three ERO reports

 

Education Reviews October 2008

April 2005

Accountability Review September 2000

To the Parents and Community of AKO Early Learning Centre

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on AKO Early Learning Centre.

The AKO Early Learning Centre (previously known as Middleton Early Learning Centre) is one of five centres administered by the Dunedin Community Childcare Association (DCCA). The centre has an all-day programme that caters for children up to five years of age. In January 2010, the centre relocated to a renovated building close by. The outdoor area is still being developed. Since the last review there have been a number of staff changes to the leadership team.

The focus of this review is the quality of education. This covers the quality of the programme, learning environment, interactions and the way these contribute to children’s learning and development. As with all early childhood services currently being reviewed, ERO is investigating aspects of health and safety and how the centre provides care and education for children with moderate to severe special needs.

Children enjoy warm and caring relationships with their teachers. There is a sense of community and good levels of parent support and involvement in the centre. The teachers provide an interesting range of experiences and activities for children to enjoy. The children play well together and generally play meaningfully without the need for adult support. At times teachers have good quality conversations with children to extend and support their learning.

Other aspects of the centre that support children’s learning are:

  • a developing collaborative team culture and shared philosophy
  • teachers noticing and responding to children’s interests and development
  • well established centre routines
  • the high level of professional support the centre receives from the DCCA.

Teachers provide a well managed, safe environment in which children play and learn. Teachers have recently trialled a new system for programme planning. Further development is needed to ensure that the programme develops and extends children’s learning and provides effectively for children of diverse needs and mixed ages in particular toddlers. The scope of self review needs to broaden to include:

  • embedding into documentation the seeking of parents’ aspirations for their children’s learning
  • developing bicultural practices and incorporating Māori perspectives into learning programmes
  • ensuring that over time, all aspects that contribute to a high quality learning environment are reviewed.

The managers and teachers agreed to develop an action plan to implement the recommendations in this report.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again within three years.

When ERO has reviewed an early childhood centre we encourage management to inform their community of any follow up action they plan to take. You should talk to the management or contact person if you have any questions about this evaluation, the full ERO report or their future intentions.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the centre or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region