One of the Government’s key goals is “In 2016, 98% of children starting school will have participated in quality Early Childhood Education (ECE)”. This is one of three Better Public Service goals for vulnerable children (the other two goals focus on increasing immunisation rates and reducing assaults on children).
Children who regularly attend quality ECE benefit in many ways and these benefits extend to their family/whānau and wider community. Taking part in quality learning builds a strong foundation for children’s ongoing education, supporting them to become healthy, happy and capable people and grow into confident learners as well as form a strong foundation for later learning. Research indicates that vulnerable children benefit from starting ECE when they are two years old and sustaining regular attendance until starting school.
At June 2015 96.2% of all children starting school had gone to ECE. However, underneath what appears to be a high prior participation rate is much lower rates for Māori and Pasifika low socio economic families. These children and their families are the focus of our work as these children need more support to achieve the same results.
Seven Early Learning centres from Clendon and Weymouth (2013/14) and 23 South Auckland centres (2014/15) have already worked closely with an Improvement Team from Ko Awatea and the Ministry of Education’s Early Learning Taskforce to look at improving their attendance and enrolments.
These centres were chosen as they where in areas of low socio economic status and with the most challenging statistics around non-participation. Each centre had its own aim to answering the question of “how much (e.g. increase enrolments), by when (e.g. end of year)?” The centres approached small scale tests of change using Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycles while collecting a set of common data.
The results for Clendon were:
- the average enrolment rate across the centres increased from 76% to 86%; a significant shift within this small community.
- Attendance by enrolled children for all centres also increased from an average of 12.5 hours per child/week to 18.6 hours per child per week.
The National Early Learning Participation Campaign is an exciting project with proven results.
ECE Centers involved receive:
- Training in quality improvement skills, tools and techniques to assist you with your enrolment and participation aims
- Quality improvement support and facilitation to assist with re-design of systems and processes if required
- An opportunity to share learnings with other Centres
- An opportunity to be part of a national improvement project.
This project incorporates a combination of collaborative learning sessions, action periods with support from the Ko Awatea and the Early Learning Taskforce team. It will allow Centres to test change ideas, initially on a small scale and to measure these effects based on the data collected.
The use of this combination of tools leads to a better understanding of what barriers there are to participating and enrolling in early education allowing for the design of improved, more efficient centre processes, increased skills, better team working, less stress amongst staff and an enhanced whanau experience.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”
Learning Session One
Learning Session Two
Materials from the APAC Forum
Frances Van Dillen