Kindies suffer drop in quality
A high turnover of kindergarten staff and a breakdown in governance and management has the Central Otago Kindergarten Association (COKA) seeking outside help.
The association has had an interim management contract with Kidsfirst Kindergartens (Christchurch) since the end of last year, after its permanent manager left.
COKA looks after the seven kindergartens in Central Otago (Frankton, Queenstown, Hawea, Cromwell, Terrace, Alexandra and Maniototo), and only three of its recent Education Review Office (ERO) reports gave a ‘‘well placed’’ evaluation of the kindergarten’s ability to promote positive learning.
The reports revealed that Frankton, Cromwell and Maniototo kindergartens, in particular, needed ‘‘significant’’ ongoing support to ensure a strong focus on children’s learning.
The Terrace Kindergarten, in Alexandra, which has been operating for more than 30 years, has gone from a ‘‘high performing’’ kindy (ERO 2010), to one where its quality of programmes have been affected by significant staff changes, the reports said.
ERO national manager review services Graham Randell, said in his reports that COKA had gone through an ‘‘unsettled’’ period over the past three years, which had adversely affected the leadership provided to each kindergarten.
‘‘This has led to the board contracting Canterbury Westland Kindergarten Association (trading as Kidsfirst Kindergartens), in 2012 to undertake an independent review of the management structure.’’
COKA president Matt Parker said one of the main things that came out of the review was the need to look at enhancing its professional development and peer support to its management and teaching teams.
‘‘Because we are a relatively small and isolated organisation, it made sense to look at building ties with a larger neighbouring kindergarten association to share in their expertise and resources.’’
He said the issues raised in the reports ‘‘were the catalyst for us making many of the changes we have’’.
‘‘Whilst no-one wants to have an ERO report that is less than glowing, we’re using these recommendations to make our kindergartens better today, and in the future.
‘‘With Kidsfirst, we’ve engaged a management team who are delivering an excellent level of support to our teaching teams.’’
Frankton and Maniototo kindergartens have also had significant staff changes – the latter has only been open two years.
On a more positive note, Hawea, Alexandra and Queenstown kindergartens were all ‘‘well placed’’ kindergartens, according to the ERO reports, and were providing good quality early childhood education programmes.
Mr Parker described the process of redevelopment with Kidsfirst as more of an ‘‘evolution,’’ and said parents could be reassured there would be no negative impact on their children’s learning, or their relationship with their kindergarten.
‘‘Here at COKA we are very excited about the changes we are making as we continue to strive to better meet the needs of parents, families and the community as a whole.’’