Education Review Office
"Providing reports for government and public to read on early childhood services. Not an inspection agency with any real power to police and enforce standards"
The ERO is independent of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry has responsibility to license early childhood services, administer funding, and advise government on early childhood policy.
Whereas the key roles of ERO are:
- To visit every licensed early childhood service and make publicly available a review report on what it sees as going well and not going well using a format that is standardised for all services.
- To give a couple of ideas to the service on how it might further improve and include these recommendations at the end of the public report. The reports are made publicly available on ERO's website and early childhood services must make a copy of their report available to parents and families.
- To look into particular topics that the government at the time is interested in and use the topic as a basis for its reviews of ECE services - such as how ECE services are implementing the revised Te Whariki curriculum (at the end of 2017).
Are you with an early childhood service who is due to be reviewed - or has been given some recommendations by ERO but you are unsure where to start? Find out more about support at ChildForum
The Education Review Office and What You Can Expect
Two ERO staff, who may or may not have a qualification and experience working in early childhood education, visit early childhood services and spend a day and sometimes longer mostly looking at documentation and talking with the service managers/ owners. As little as 30 minutes of this time may be spent by a reviewer(s) in the play area and observing children and teachers. They draft a report which is discussed and negotiated with the service managers and owners.
Reports for all childcare, kindergarten, kohanga reo, Rudolf Steiner, Playcentre and early learning centres follow the same standard format and generally include one to two pages of comments about the service; providing parents with a general overview of the ERO reviewers' impression of what they saw and were told at the time they visited.
Early childhood services are reviewed once every 4 years unless a major problem is identified, and then services usually receive what's called a supplementary review six months to a year later.
Services are informed before ERO reviewers call. Spot checks and unannounced visits are not made.
What you might not know is that once an early childhood service is licensed to open it is usually not ever visited again by the Ministry of Education inspectors unless a parent, staff member or concerned community member has made a complaint which the Ministry believes could be credible. So a lot of responsibility for how the service is provided on a day to day basis and for quality assurance lies on the shoulders of the service providers, staff, and families.
While the ERO reports on early childhood services are useful in giving a snap-shot view of the service on the day that ERO reviewers visited,
- the reports alone cannot provide sufficient information needed for parents to make judgments about the quality of a service for their child, (what to look for when choosing childcare)
- people considering applying for work at a service may find it helpful to get more insight into issues of quality and differences between services, and
- providers of early childhood services will want to seek out more information and support networks and participate in ChildForum because they can't maintain a good reputation for quality if they don't know what they should know.
More information about the value and limitations of ERO reports is available at the information for parents on early childhood education website, www.MyECE.org.nz
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