Framework and Resources for Early Childhood Education Reviews

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1 Framework and Resources for Early Childhood Education Reviews Education Reviews in Early Childhood Education Services

2 Contents 1 Introduction 1 The purpose of this framework ERO s approach to early childhood reviews The assess and assist approach Key features of ERO s approach 2 The early childhood context 4 A flexible approach Building on self review 3 The dual role of ERO 7 4 The review strands 8 A Quality of Education B Additional early childhood service priorities C Areas of specific Government interest D Compliance issues Balance between the strands The role of umbrella organisations and individual services Use of resources in the review strands 5 Process guidelines for reviews 12 Exchange of information Scope and assemble information (initial scoping) Meet to discuss priorities Refine the preview priorities On-site investigation and synthesis Discuss findings and develop recommendations Reporting 6. Conduct of reviews 14 Overview Resource A: Identifying the priorities for review 16 Resource B: Chain of quality 18 Resource C: Information for parents and the public 24 Resource D: Guidelines for involvement of the Friend of the Service 26 Resource E: Developing recommendations 28 Resource F: Government policies 29

3 Framework for Early Childhood Education Reviews 1 Introduction The Purpose of this Framework This framework contains information about the process that the Education Review Office (ERO) uses for managing its early childhood reviews. This information forms part of ERO s standard procedures for reviews of early childhood education services. The framework contains process guidelines and resources intended for use by both ERO and early childhood education services. The following table shows the purpose of process guidelines and resources. Content Process Guidelines Resources Description These are primarily for reviewers, but also contain information about ERO s approach that could be useful to early childhood services. These can be used by: ERO in planning and scoping reviews; and early childhood services in self review. 1 The process guidelines indicate the stages at which the different resources could be used, either by ERO or early childhood services. ERO has adopted this approach to the provision of guidelines and resources because it wants its procedures to be transparent to early childhood services and to make the same information available for self review as it uses for external review. ERO s Approach to Early Childhood Reviews ERO is an independent external evaluator. Its review process is based on a Manual of Standard Procedures and Code of Ethical Conduct for Review Officers. ERO takes an evidence-based approach to reviews. Reviewers make independent judgements based on evidence and the use of evaluation indicators. ERO s approach to early childhood reviews focuses on: how services are contributing to children s learning and development; and whether services are providing a safe environment that promotes children s safety and wellbeing. 1 See Section 2 for a discussion of self-review processes and their relationship to ERO reviews. Education Review Office 1 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

4 The purpose of ERO reviews is to contribute to improved learning and development outcomes for children. This is reflected in ERO s whakataukï: Ko Te Tamaiti te Pütake o te Kaupapa The Child The Heart of the Matter The approach outlined in this framework is centred on the child and places outcomes for children as an explicit point of reference throughout reviews. The Statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices for Chartered Early Childhood Services (DOPs) sets out the following aspirations for children: to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society. Outcomes can include children s learning opportunities, experiences and relationships and are not always easy to define and assess. Nevertheless, the focus on how early childhood services are contributing to children s learning and development is central to ERO reviews. When ERO reviews early childhood education services it has a key interest in the quality of education and the way in which this influences learning and development outcomes for children. The Assess and Assist Approach ERO s revised approach to reviews is sometimes characterised as an assess and assist approach. The term assess and assist reflects the balance between ERO s twin purposes of accountability and improvement, but in some ways it is misleading because it implies that assess and assist are two separate activities that take place sequentially. ERO s view is that the best way it can assist early childhood services is through its reviews. It intends to carry out reviews that are focused on services priorities and concerns, give the best possible information and identify useful strategies for improvement in its recommendations. In ERO s view, assess and assist is a single process that is part of the role of an external evaluator. Activities that fall outside the scope of evaluation, such as providing ongoing advice and support, are not part of ERO s role. In practical terms this means that ERO may be involved in developing recommendations and formulating action plans, but it is not its role to be involved in the implementation of those plans. Education Review Office 2 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

5 Key Features of ERO s Approach This framework has been developed specifically for reviews of early childhood services. It reflects key principles that underpin all ERO reviews. Key Features of ERO s Approach The features of ERO s approach to reviews relate to: ERO s role and purpose; what ERO evaluates; and how ERO evaluates. The role and purpose includes ERO s: status as an independent, external evaluator; dual purpose in helping to bring about improvements in the quality of education provided for children, while ensuring accountability; and role in providing information to parents, communities and the Government to inform their decision making. What ERO evaluates reflects: the focus of ERO reviews on learning and development outcomes for children; and the way in which ERO investigates how programmes and processes within early childhood services contribute to outcomes for children. How ERO evaluates includes: the basis on which ERO reviews are conducted using a Manual of Standard Procedures and a Code of Ethical Conduct for Review Officers; the evidence-based approach to evaluations; the use of evaluation indicators to inform judgements; the participatory approach to education reviews, in which ERO discusses the priorities for review and develops recommendations with key stakeholders; and ERO s emphasis on developing linkages between external evaluation and self review. Some of these features, for example ERO s independence and use of evidence in evaluations, have always been central to the way in which ERO operates. Other features, for example ERO s participatory approach and linkages with self review, have been developed more recently as part of ERO s new approach to reviews. Education Review Office 3 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

6 2 The Early Childhood Context Early childhood education is a holistic process that includes education and care. Children s experiences are influenced by their interactions with the adults, the other children, the physical environment and the philosophy and resources within an early childhood service. The early childhood education sector is highly diverse. According to Te Whäriki, the early childhood curriculum guidelines, this diversity reflects: cultural perspectives, such as in köhanga reo or various Pacific early childhood services; structural differences, such as in sessional or full day programmes; organisational differences, such as in kindergartens or childcare services; different environments such as in home-based or centre-based programmes; a range of philosophical emphases, such as in Playcentre, Montessori, or Rudolf Steiner programmes; different resources which are available in urban and rural settings; the ways in which the local community participates; and the age range of children in the programme. The early childhood education sector differs from the school sector in that: attendance at an early childhood service is not compulsory; decisions about how much and what type of early childhood education service to use are made by parents; the costs of early childhood education are generally shared between the Government and parents; few early childhood services are Crown owned; and children can be enrolled in more than one kind of early childhood service at once. ERO s methodology needs to be sufficiently flexible to reflect the diversity of the sector. For this reason, this framework is enabling not prescriptive. The key features of ERO s approach reflect principles such as participation, rigour, transparency, and an improvement focus that are common to all ERO reviews. A Flexible Approach ERO s aim is for its reviews of early childhood services to reflect: the diversity in the sector; and variations in the performance of early childhood services. ERO does not intend to develop separate review processes for different types of services such as kindergartens, playcentres, and childcare services. Instead it aims to Education Review Office 4 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

7 have a single process that is sufficiently flexible to incorporate different philosophies and approaches. Before each review, ERO will give services an opportunity in the Programme Philosophy and Self Review Statement to provide information about their philosophy and the way in which it impacts on the delivery of the programme. This will help the review team to prepare for the review, and to determine priorities for review that reflect the service s philosophy. Services will also have the opportunity if they wish to nominate a Friend of the Service (see Resource D, p28) to provide information to the review team about their philosophy and approach. Building on Self Review One assumption in this framework is that ERO s procedures and indicators are transparent and will be made available to early childhood services to assist in their own processes of self review, in self audit and in planning for external review. Self review is a process through which early childhood education services evaluate the effectiveness of what they do, with the aim of improving the quality of their practice. Self audit is a process of checking compliance with legal requirements. ERO s aim is to encourage and support the development of self review in the early childhood sector through raising awareness of review processes and incorporating services self-review information in ERO reviews. At the same time, where no self-review information relevant to the review priorities is available, ERO s processes need to be flexible and robust enough not to depend on self-review information. The Government s Strategic Plan for the early childhood sector contains the following objectives: ERO evaluations will stimulate services to take an improvement approach, with emphasis on the services' own management goals and review processes and on curriculum, teaching and learning. early childhood services will carry out self review; and external reviews by ERO will check self-review processes and the use made of them. ERO s Strategic Plan also notes that effective implementation of services self review and good external review will require development of indicators of quality practice. In ERO s experience, the quality of self review in the early childhood sector is variable. Where services are carrying out high quality self review, the results of self review will be used to inform ERO evaluations. In many services, however, self Education Review Office 5 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

8 review is not highly developed. In such cases ERO reviews will aim, through the external evaluation process, to support the development of self review within the early childhood sector. Before each review ERO will ask services about their existing processes of self review and findings and related action plans in the Programme Philosophy and Self Review Statement. This will help the review team prepare and determine priorities for the review. ERO is currently developing its own evaluation indicators for early childhood reviews. ERO plans to make these indicators available to early childhood services along with guidelines on how to use them. The aim is to enhance services understanding of review processes and assist services to prepare for ERO reviews. ERO is working closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure that its evaluation indicators are consistent with the Ministry s provision of advice and support. Education Review Office 6 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

9 3 The Dual Role of ERO The approach outlined in Sections 1 and 2 involves ERO and early childhood education services working together to identify strengths and weaknesses and to develop proposals for improvement. Most early childhood education services receive substantial government funding and operate within a policy and regulatory environment established by the Government. ERO is a government department with a responsibility for contributing to educational improvement through evaluating the quality of education and the effective use of public funds. The audience for ERO reports includes the Government and the public as well as those within the early childhood education sector. External evaluation in early childhood education services has two main roles accountability and educational improvement. Evaluation for accountability purposes involves reporting on goals and standards (including checking on compliance matters) while an improvement focus involves assisting services to develop themselves through feedback. There are tensions between ERO s improvement and accountability functions, and also between the information needs of different audiences for ERO reports. This framework is intended to provide ERO reviewers and early childhood services with resources that focus on improvement, while at the same time clarifying ERO s accountability purpose. Education Review Office 7 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

10 4 The Review Strands ERO s framework for reviewing and reporting is designed to minimise the tensions between the different roles of ERO. The framework is designed to make it easier for early childhood services to see: what they are doing well; where they need to improve; and what they should do next. The framework is based on four review strands, A, B, C, and D as shown in the table below. Areas of good performance A Quality of education B Additional review priorities C Areas of specific government interest D Compliance issues Areas for improvement Recommendations A Quality of Education This strand focuses on the quality of the programme, the learning environment, interactions, and the extent to which these are contributing to children s learning and development. All ERO reviews give priority to the quality of education because this has the most direct impact on positive outcomes for children. Early childhood education is an holistic process, reflected in the whäriki concept: the sum total of the experiences, activities and events, whether direct or indirect that occur within an environment designed to foster children s learning and development. It is not easy to break down early childhood education into discrete components. For this reason Strand A deals with the quality of the programme as a whole. Within this strand, ERO works with the service to determine its review priorities in the light of the different philosophies that exist in the early childhood sector. ERO takes into account: Education Review Office 8 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

11 information the service provides in the Programme Philosophy and Self Review Statement about the particular philosophy of the service and how this impacts on the programme for children; and any suggestions from the service about aspects of the programme that are a current focus of attention (for example the use of learning stories in assessment). Priorities for this strand are based on self-review information where this is available. The results of a service s self review are reflected in ERO s report where they have informed the direction of the review. B Additional Review Priorities This strand deals with aspects of the operation of the service (eg management, leadership and staffing). Associations, management bodies or the management of individual services have the opportunity to suggest issues within this strand for inclusion in ERO reviews. ERO makes a decision to include these issues depending on whether or not they have a direct impact on children s learning and development, and the amount of time that needs to be given to the other review strands. ERO will not include this strand in all reviews. Examples of when issues from this strand could be included are: where the quality of the education is poor and this reflects the quality of management, leadership or staffing; where the quality of the education is very good and ERO wants to find out why, perhaps to assist in developing good practice examples; and where the service has identified issues through a process of self review and ERO wishes to validate self-review findings. C Areas of Specific Government Interest This strand provides information to the Government about how well specific policies are working in early childhood education services. ERO may change the topics from year to year to reflect the Government s priorities. D Compliance Issues Legal compliance is an important responsibility of early childhood services. ERO s approach to compliance is designed to support services management of compliance functions and places some reliance on services own reporting on compliance. ERO s experience is that there is wide variation in early childhood services compliance with legislation. Early childhood services operate under a comprehensive set of regulations (reflecting the importance of safety and wellbeing for young children) and there is a public expectation that ERO will continue to check on compliance with these regulations. Education Review Office 9 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

12 ERO needs to have the flexibility to vary its approach to reflect the circumstances of an individual service and the extent to which evidence indicates it is complying with legislative requirements. ERO has developed the Guidelines for Centre Management Assurance Statement and Self Audit Checklists for services to use to provide assurance that the service has taken all reasonable steps to meet its legal requirements. When scoping and planning a review, ERO will use the service s identification of non-compliance and actions to be taken as shown in the Assurance Statement. During the course of all reviews, ERO checks performance in respect of compliance as attested in the Assurance Statement. In the event that the checking process indicates any significant problem areas, ERO may decide to investigate further. Compliance will not be a major focus of reviews unless it appears to ERO that there are significant levels of risk. For many early childhood services, ERO s main interest within this strand is in the extent to which the service is auditing its own compliance. Any non-compliance not identified by the service and discovered by ERO may be reported in the ERO report and, if significant, may result in a follow-up supplementary review. ERO will decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to report non-compliance issues identified by the service. Balance Between the Strands The length of time devoted to each of the four strands above and the detailed processes for gathering information and reporting findings varies between reviews. Decisions about the balance between the four strands and where to focus reviews will depend on ERO s assessment of risk and will be informed by an analysis of the Assurance Statement and Programme Philosophy and Self Review Statement provided by early childhood services. In some services, reviews need to focus on compliance, because of risks to the safety and wellbeing of children. This is likely to be the case where, although the Assurance Statement indicates high levels of compliance, there do not appear to be adequate systems for the self audit of compliance. Strands A and B will have the greatest emphasis for services where it is not necessary for reviews to focus on compliance. Strand A will be given priority because the quality of the education is the area that has the most direct impact on outcomes for children. However, as outlined above, some reviews will investigate issues from Strand B where they have an impact on the quality of the education provided for children. The Role of Umbrella Organisations and Individual Services ERO reviews are intended to be flexible to reflect the different programmes, philosophies and environments in the early childhood sector. The process of deciding review priorities with strands A and B is also intended to be flexible to Education Review Office 10 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

13 reflect the differing types of services and management arrangements in the early childhood sector. Where associations or management bodies have a role in setting overall directions for a group of services, these organisations are able to work with ERO to establish priorities and to suggest additional areas for review for all services within their umbrella. Individual services in associations will also have an opportunity to identify priorities and suggest additional areas for review that are specific to their context and location, within the overall set of priorities established for the group of services. Where early childhood services do not operate under the auspices of an association or management body ERO holds discussions about priorities for the review directly with the service. Use of Resources in the Review Strands ERO has prepared resources for use in reviewing within the review strands, and these are included at the back of this framework. Resource A: Identifying the Priorities for Review; and Resource B: The Chain of Quality are intended to be used in determining the priorities for reviews in Strands A and B. Resource C: Information for Parents and the Public; Resource D: Guidelines for Involvement of the Friend of the Service; and Resource E: Developing Recommendationsare intended to be used throughout the review process, but are again particularly applicable to Strands A and B. Resource F: Government Policies outlines the approach used to gather information on areas of specific Government interest and is intended to be used in Strand C. The Guidelines for Centre Management Assurance Statement and Self Audit Checklists, which are contained in a separate document, are intended to be used in Strand D. Education Review Office 11 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

14 5 Process Guidelines for Reviews ERO begins the review process with a notification letter that gives early childhood services time to prepare for the external review. Exchange Information In the initial stages of the review, information is exchanged between ERO and the service before the review team comes to the service for the on-site part of the review. During the exchange of information ERO: begins the process with a notification letter that gives early childhood services time to prepare for the external review; provides early childhood services with information about the approach to reviews, a copy of this framework, the Guidelines for Centre Management Assurance Statement and Self Audit Checklists, the Programme Philosophy and Self Review Statement and ERO s evaluation indicators; informs early childhood services that ERO will always focus on the quality of the education as this has a direct impact on outcomes for children. For ERO this includes the quality of the programme, the learning environment and the quality of interactions. As well, ERO will always check performance in respect to compliance in the Assurance Statement to ensure there are systems established to provide an environment adequate for children s safety and wellbeing; gives early childhood services an opportunity to clarify the information about the review process; invites early childhood services to consider which aspects of the programme should be given priority in the review (Strand A) and any additional priorities for review (Strand B). Where a service is part of an umbrella organisation, both the individual service and the management organisation could suggest priorities. ERO will work with these organisations to identify priorities for the services within their umbrella ; clarifies with the service who the review team will contact on arrival at the centre, and who will take responsibility for discussing priorities with the review team in the initial on-site stage of the review; asks services to provide ERO with their Programme Philosophy and Self Review Statement, priorities for external review, other relevant documentation and a service statement; and invites services to consider whether they wish to involve a Friend of the Service (FOS) using Resource D. Scope and Assemble Information (Initial Scoping) The review team undertakes the initial scoping before the review visit to the service. Education Review Office 12 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

15 When initially scoping the review, ERO will use information provided by the early childhood service including the completed Assurance Statement and Programme Philosophy and Self-Review Statement. Meet to Discuss Priorities While the previous exchange of information has generally been by mail, telephone or , ERO expects that the service will nominate/delegate appropriate personnel to discuss priority areas of the review. This discussion will usually occur near the beginning of the on-site stage. Refine the Review Process The review team: confirms the scope of the review after this discussion; plans the process taking into account the resources available for the review; and where appropriate, agrees on the arrangements for working with the Friend of the Service. Investigation and Synthesis at the Service During its time at the service the review team: carries out the investigation using evaluative questions and evaluation indicators as a basis to gather/document evidence; reads the service s documentation, talk with educators, management, parents and children and observe the programme in action (ongoing interaction between service personnel and the review team will be a feature of the process); and synthesises the review findings. Discuss Findings and Develop Recommendations Towards the end of its time at the service the review team discusses the review findings with the personnel nominated by the early childhood service. The discussion will highlight areas of good performance and areas for improvement. The review team discusses and develops, with the service personnel, recommendations that will be included in the report. If appropriate they will indicate the likelihood of a follow-up supplementary review. This meeting should include those who will have the responsibility for implementing any recommendations developed and for responding to the subsequent ERO report. That is, it should include management and centre staff. Reporting The process for confirming the report follows standard processes outlined in ERO s Standard Procedures. Where ERO identifies the need for a follow-up supplementary review this will usually be included in the report. Education Review Office 13 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

16 6 The Conduct of Reviews Overview ERO s assess and assist approach to reviews reflects a balance between accountability and improvement. Given ERO s dual purpose, it is important for ERO and early childhood services to have a common understanding of the contribution each party makes to the review. The following tables summarise how ERO will manage relationships and processes in reviews, and sets out ERO s expectations of early childhood services. Information ERO will: ERO expects the early childhood service to: make information about the review process available to services ; and take into consideration the results of the service s self review and self audit when scoping the review. make all relevant information available to ERO, including self-review and self-audit results; complete the Assurance Statement and Programme Philosophy and Self Review Statement; and work constructively with review teams to provide access to information held at the service; and facilitate discussions with members of the management, staff, educators and parents. Priorities for the Review ERO will: ERO expects the service to: discuss the priorities for the review with the service and take into account their suggestions; and have an input in discussions on the priorities for the review. inform the service if it needs to change the priorities for the review as a result of its investigations. Education Review Office 14 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

17 The Review Process ERO will: ERO expects the service to: reach judgements based on evidence; notify parents and the community that a review is scheduled to take place; outline its findings to the service so that there are no surprises in its report; outline the evidential basis for key findings; develop recommendations for improvement in consultation with the service; and not release its report publicly until two weeks after it has been confirmed and sent to the service. notify ERO of the decision to have a Friend of the Service (if applicable); brief the Friend of the Service about the review (if applicable); notify ERO of the guidelines and parameters the service has established for the Friend (if applicable); and work constructively with review teams to develop recommendations based on ERO s findings. Education Review Office 15 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

18 Resource A: Identifying the Priorities for Review Overview This resource is intended to assist in: determining which aspects of the programme should be investigated in Review Strand A (Quality of Education); and defining other possible areas for review in Review Strand B (Additional Review Priorities). The questions in this resource can be used in a structured way to help define the priorities for review from a range of possible options. The resource can be used by: ERO when scoping and planning the review (drawing on documentation provided by the early childhood service); associations or umbrella organisations when considering priorities for review across a number of services; individual early childhood services when considering priorities and preparing for the review; and individual services and ERO to inform discussion at the start of the review. Identifying Review Priorities The early childhood service and ERO (and, where appropriate, umbrella organisations) should use the questions below as a basis for structuring and guiding discussions about priorities for review within Strands A and B. 1 How does the potential review priority contribute to outcomes for children? Consider how the issue contributes to children s learning, development and wellbeing using the chain of quality in Resource B, p18. Will improvements in this aspect of the service lead to (or create the conditions for) improvements in children s learning, development or wellbeing? 2 What is the quality of existing information? Consider the quality and extent of existing information (including self-review and self-audit information) that already exists to inform an external evaluation of the Education Review Office 16 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

19 issue. This information will be used to scope the size of the task or, in some cases, to exclude it. 3 What level of consultation has already occurred? Before the review, early childhood services may have followed a process of defining their own priorities in consultation with their community. To assist in planning the review, identify which of the following groups have been involved in consultation on the review priorities and decide who ERO should talk to in the review. Key groups include: associations or umbrella organisations; the owner/proprietor of the service; the licensee; management; educators; children; parents; the Mäori community; and/or other groups. 4 Has a need for improvement already been identified? Identify whether self-review results indicate that: the early childhood service is already performing well in relation to this area; or there is a need for improvement. ERO will usually aim to achieve a balance between these two categories in a review. For areas where the service is performing well, the priority will be on validating the results of self review and identifying good practice. For areas where there is a need for improvement ERO will work with the service to formulate strategies for improvement. Where an action plan is in place, ERO will take this into consideration. Education Review Office 17 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

20 Resource B: Chain of Quality Overview This resource is intended to supplement Resource A to help guide discussions about the priorities for reviews. The Chain of Quality diagram (p21) is a basis for examining visually the relationship between the early childhood context, processes and outcomes for children. It can be used to: assist early childhood services in self review; and assist ERO, early childhood services and umbrella organisations in identifying priorities for review. Chain of Quality Linkage The Chain of Quality diagram in this resource shows how positive outcomes for children are linked to effective processes - management, professional leadership, high quality educators and high quality programmes. Underpinning all the links in the chain are contextual factors including the philosophy of the service, and the involvement of families and communities. Outcomes for children are not always easy to assess directly. There are currently few measures for assessing the contribution that early childhood services make to outcomes for children. Nevertheless the focus on how well children learn and develop is central to all ERO reviews. ERO s methodology and professional practice reflect research information on how different early childhood education processes contribute to learning and development outcomes for children. Within an early childhood context outcomes for children are likely to be influenced most directly by the quality of the programme, the learning environment and interactions. This is why these areas are included as priorities for all early childhood reviews (Strand A, p8). Issues such as the quality of educators and management are important because they affect the quality of education, but their influence may be less direct than the quality of the programmes themselves. These issues are investigated in Strand B (p9). Minimum Standards The Chain of Quality does not include compliance with requirements for children s physical and emotional safety. These requirements are expressed in the early childhood regulations in terms of minimum standards rather than on a quality spectrum. Ensuring that early childhood services meet these requirements is a compliance issue and is the responsibility of the management of the service. ERO s interest in checking minimum standards is part of the compliance strand of reviews. However, the extent to which the management of the service has good systems for reviewing compliance with safety regulatory requirements is a quality Education Review Office 18 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

21 issue, and could be evaluated by ERO as part of the effective management link in the chain of quality. Using the Chain of Quality The Chain of Quality is not a logic model showing detailed causal relationships, but a tool to assist early childhood services and ERO to determine the nature of the linkages in the context of a particular service. While ERO reviews could focus on any of the links in the chain, in all cases it should be possible to trace a relationship between the issue for review and outcomes for children. Areas for improvement identified in the review should lead to (or help create the conditions for) improved learning and development outcomes for children. A useful exercise for early childhood services is to fill in the key components of the links and the specific ways in which the activities in one link can influence those in the next. The process of ERO and the early childhood service working together in tracing the linkages may be useful not only in deciding what to include and what to exclude, but also in clarifying the detailed priorities for the review. Example The management of an early childhood service might identify the sandpit as a priority for review. Using the Chain of Quality diagram as a guide, ERO and the service could expand this priority and decide to evaluate how far the use of all the resources and materials within the service (including the sandpit) were contributing to a high quality and stimulating learning environment, which in turn helped to improve children s learning and development. For each of the links in the chain, this resource includes evaluative questions that are intended to clarify issues for review. The questions are included in this framework to inform early childhood services about the basis on which they will be reviewed. All of these questions will not be used in all reviews. Instead the specific questions that are relevant to a particular review will be identified by the priorities decided at the beginning of the review. The evaluative questions are at a high level, and will be used to inform the development of ERO s evaluation indicators. The indicators will be based on what is known about effective early childhood practice. They will explore the relationship between the early childhood context, process and outcomes for children, and will provide prompts to assist in reflection. Other Models The chain of quality is not the only model or diagram that can be used to assist in self review. For example the model in The Quality Journey (Ministry of Education, 2000) identifies three core components for review in a quality improvement system. These are: teaching, learning and development; adult communication and collaboration; and organisational management. Education Review Office 19 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

22 These components are consistent with those included in the Chain of Quality. ERO has an interest in how activities and processes within each of these components are contributing to outcomes for children. Early childhood services that have undertaken self review using The Quality Journey should be well placed to contribute to discussions with ERO on these issues. Education Review Office 20 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

23 Chain of Quality Clear philosophy Effective management High quality educators, professional leadership High quality programmes, environment, interactions Positive outcomes for children Involved Families and Communities Education Review Office 21 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

24 Evaluative Questions High Quality Programmes that Contribute to Positive Outcomes for Children How well does the service promote and extend the learning and development of each child through the provision of a high quality programme? How effective is: programme planning? assessment? programme evaluation? What is the quality of the programme experienced by children? What expectations does the service have about children s learning and development? How well does the service promote positive outcomes for children through acknowledging and supporting: tikanga Mäori and te reo Mäori? the culture and ethnicity of all the children enrolled? How well does the service promote children s emotional safety and security? Learning Environment How well do the environment and resources support children s: learning and development needs? physical, social and emotional needs? Professional Leadership and High Quality Staffing What is the quality of leadership in curriculum development, programme delivery, quality improvement and involving parents in the service? What is the quality of pedagogical practice, demonstrated through interactions between educators and children? How effective are educators in responding to children s learning needs? Effective Management How effective is management in setting direction for the service? How well does the management meet its obligations to be a good employer? How effective are the systems for managing performance and identifying and meeting the professional development needs of educators? Education Review Office 22 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

25 How effective are self-review processes in bringing about improvements likely to impact positively on children s learning, development and wellbeing? Clear Philosophy How does the service s philosophy impact on the operation of the service, including the programme planned for children? Involved Families and Communities How effectively are families and communities involved in: the operation and decision making of the service? setting goals for their children and knowing how well their children are progressing? How well are parents kept informed? How effective are the systems for resolving concerns and complaints? How welcoming is the service to parents and how effective are the opportunities for interaction with educators? Education Review Office 23 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

26 Resource C: Information for Parents and the Public Overview One of the purposes of ERO is to provide information to parents to assist in their decision-making. This resource is intended to highlight issues that are of interest to parents and the wider public, and that should be addressed in ERO reports. The information needs of parents, and the ways in which parents can use information provided by ERO in their decision-making, vary widely. Parents Involvement with the Early Childhood Education Services Parents whose children attend an early childhood education service are likely to have a day-to-day involvement with the service and to be familiar with the programme. For some early childhood services (köhanga reo, playcentres) the active involvement of parents and whänau is part of the philosophy of the service, and these services have a particular role in developing and educating parents as well as children. In deciding on priorities for review, ERO will take into consideration the extent to which parents and the community have been involved in discussing priorities for review, and will determine the extent to which discussions with parents and community representatives should take place during the review. Parents Choosing an Early Childhood Education Service For many parents, the decision to enrol their child at an early childhood education service is the first time they come into contact with the education system, and with ERO. Parents may have little information about the benefits of early childhood education, the quality of education offered at a particular service, or how to choose between different services. Parents may look to ERO reports for general information on what counts as quality in early childhood education services (ie the key features they should look for before deciding to enrol their child). ERO reports have an important role to play in communicating to parents the aspects of a service s activities and processes that are likely to have the most direct impact on outcomes for children. In relation to a particular service, parents may ask questions such as: what sort of service is this and what distinguishes it from others (nature of the programme, philosophy, structure, environment etc)? is there a high quality education provided for children? is the service providing high quality literacy and numeracy programmes (especially for older children)? what is the quality of the educators (qualifications and experience)? and will my child be safe? ERO reports need to contain sufficient information to enable parents to make judgements on these issues. Education Review Office 24 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

27 Meeting the Needs of Parents and Public ERO will recognise the information needs of parents and the public during reviews and in reports through: gathering general information on the quality of education likely to be of interest to parents; checking compliance with regulations in all reviews; and including a community page in reports, explicitly addressing questions of interest to parents, that draws on information obtained through each of the four review strands. Example Information to be Included in the Community Page The following list is indicative only. Not all the questions will be relevant to all reviews, some of the questions could be merged and other questions could be identified for particular early childhood services. Information Area What sort of service is this? Is high quality education provided for children? Is the service providing a sound foundation for schooling? What is the quality of the educators? Will children be safe? Information to Include Characteristics of the service and distinctive features of its programme, philosophy, structure and environment. Information drawn from the quality of education strand on the quality of the programme, learning environment and interactions. If appropriate, information from the quality of education and additional priorities strands, for example on the quality of early literacy and numeracy programmes. Information drawn from the compliance strand on the extent to which the service is meeting requirements for staff qualifications. If appropriate, information from the quality of education strand and additional priorities strands, for example on how well the staff are interacting with children. Information drawn from the compliance strand on the extent to which the service is meeting safety requirements in the regulations. Education Review Office 25 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

28 Resource D: Guidelines for Involvement of the Friend of the Service in Reviews Purpose Before the review, each early childhood education service has the opportunity to nominate a Friend of the Service to take part in the review. The purpose is to provide an additional mechanism for making relevant information available to ERO and ensuring the interests of the service are taken into account in review. It is not compulsory for early childhood services to nominate a Friend. Selection of the Friend As with the process for setting priorities for review, the process for selecting a Friend is likely to reflect the differing types of service in the early childhood sector. An association or management body that has a role in setting overall directions for a group of services may wish to nominate a Friend to ensure that their philosophy and perspective is taken into account. Early childhood services that do not operate under the auspices of a national or regional organisation may wish to select a Friend themselves. Parameters Related to the Friend The decision to include a Friend in a review is made by the early childhood service, and it is the responsibility of the management of the service to determine the parameters within which the Friend will be involved in the review. The service may select only one person as the Friend. The service meets all costs related to the Friend. The Friend is responsible to the management of the early childhood service during the time they are involved in the review. The management of the early childhood service is responsible for the Friend s access to information during and following the review. ERO may provide opportunities for individuals to give Review Officers information in confidence, without the Friend being present. The Friend will not be a designated Review Officer. ERO will not veto the choice made by the service. Education Review Office 26 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

29 Skills Required The early childhood service selects the Friend based on its own criteria. The service may wish to ensure that the Friend has: a good knowledge of the service and the contextual factors affecting its performance; the ability to reflect the interests of a particular group or groups, such as the children s parents, or the wider community; the ability to maintain a constructive relationship with members of the community and ERO; and expertise in a specific area of importance to the service. Relationships and Processes What ERO will do Provide the management of the service with guidelines to assist in their choice and management of the Friend. With the agreement of the service, provide the Friend with the opportunity to: attend meetings and interviews carried out as part of the review; see all documents the management of the service wishes to make available; and participate in review team discussions. Consider information provided by the Friend when drafting the report. What the management of the service will do Decide whether the service wishes to have a Friend involved in reviews. Select the Friend. Provide briefing to the Friend on the role he/she is to fulfil. Notify ERO of the decision to have a Friend and of the guidelines and parameters that have been provided for the Friend. What the Friend will do Agree to work within ERO s timelines and procedures for carrying out the review. Participate in those aspects of the review process as the management of the service wishes. Participate in meetings and review team discussions. The Friend will be able to comment on ERO s unconfirmed report through the management of the service. Education Review Office 27 Education Reviews in Early Childhood Services

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