Kindies suf­fer drop in qual­ity

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By AIMEE WIL­SON

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.’’

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