Central Kids Kindergartens - Helen Downer - 20/12/2016

1 Evaluation of Central Kids Kindergartens - Helen Downer

How well placed is Central Kids Kindergartens - Helen Downer to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Helen Downer Kindergarten operates under the umbrella of Central North Island Kindergarten Trust (CNIKT). The kindergarten is licensed to cater for 43 children from two years to school age. The roll includes 50% of children who identify as Māori and others from diverse cultural backgrounds. The kindergarten is open from 8 am to 3.30 pm, five days a week.

A self review of the philosophy provided a strong foundation for the teaching team to further develop the centre curriculum. A key aspect of the philosophy is to establish a family-like culture based on agreed values of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. The philosophy reflects the importance of partnerships and recognises the dual cultural heritage of Aotearoa and the diverse cultures within the community.

The kindergarten has a positive reporting history with ERO. It has made significant progress in the areas for development identified in the 2013 ERO report. These related to improving self review, assessment, planning and evaluation strategies and the quality of the learning environment. Since the last ERO review changes have occurred to the leadership and teaching team.

The centre is well supported by the CNIKT. The trust’s strategic direction sets out the service’s vision, expected educational outcomes, and values. It also defines the strategies for delivering the principles and strands of the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, and for respecting Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The trust works positively to provide equitable opportunities to families by extending its hours of opening.

Compliance and regulatory requirements are well monitored by professional leaders. Policies and procedures ensure the kindergarten meets regulation requirements and management expectations. The professional leaders work alongside head teachers to support their leadership roles and provide guidance, and mentor teachers as part of the appraisal process. Kindergarten teachers have generous opportunities to attend professional development opportunities and grow their teaching and leadership skills.

Personnel matters are well managed. The trust has undertaken a long-term review of teacher appraisal in consultation with teachers. This is enabling them to respond to the expectations of the Education Council and increase the depth of teachers’ reflections about their practice. The trust responded effectively to the Vulnerable Children’s Act, and has met the required changes to policies and practices for the protection of children.

This review was part of a cluster of six reviews in the Central North Island Kindergarten Trust.

The Review Findings

Children, parents and whānau have a strong sense of belonging at the kindergarten and are actively engaged in children’s learning. The kaitiaki role of teachers as primary caregivers for individual children has helped to build culturally responsive relationships and teachers' knowledge of each child's unique family context. This has strengthened the transition into, and on from the centre. Teachers have developed authentic relationships with parents and whānau based on genuine attitudes of acceptance, respect and willingness to listen. They work closely with parents of children with high learning needs to provide a responsive and inclusive programme. Parents and whānau have opportunities to lead the learning in cultural celebrations such as Diwali and Matariki. Children are developing a strong sense of identity, language and culture, empathy, and appreciation for others.

The shared values and beliefs expressed in the philosophy were developed collaboratively by the head teacher and staff with parent and whānau input. These values guide the programme and provide a range of opportunities to build on the cultural knowledge and experiences that children and their families bring. Parent and whānau goals and aspirations are consistently reflected throughout the programme. Progress and development towards these goals is regularly monitored and reported through on-line learning stories. This has strengthened the home learning partnerships and helped build each child's identity as a successful learner.

Children benefit from an attractive and well-planned environment that enables them to access and construct their own learning and play. They enjoy a wide range of opportunities for problem solving, exploration, challenges and risk taking. Children are encouraged to build their social and emotional competencies of fairness and cooperation through discussion and negotiation. Children benefit from opportunities to lead their own learning and are confident to play independently and collaboratively.

Teachers value the importance of children learning through play. They skilfully recognise the teachable moments to extend on learning and the opportunities to add complexity to play. A range of rich opportunities are provided for children to follow their interests and engage in sustained play. These include:

  • meaningful contexts for emergent literacy, mathematics and science

  • rich oral language is modelled and children's talk is actively encouraged, accepted and respected

  • sensory play provides opportunities to actively investigate using all of their senses

  • dramatic play, art and music to foster imagination and creativity

  • use of te reo and the celebration of tikanga Māori in meaningful and appropriate contexts.

The identified next step by the kindergarten is to incorporate more knowledge of the local iwi and places of significance into the programme.

There are highly effective systems for centre self review, and for assessment, planning and evaluation of the programme using the on-line resource tool. This is leading to improved practice and outcomes for children. The head teacher is knowledgeable about current theory and research and provides effective support, guidance and mentoring for teaching and learning. She encourages staff to be reflective practitioners who critique their practices through a process that is ongoing, intentional and leading to improved outcomes for children. The head teacher has a strong commitment to the philosophy of the kindergarten. She works collaboratively with the professional leader, staff and families to achieve the shared vision and values. An agreed next step is to continue to build the positive team culture with the new, young staff members.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Central Kids Kindergartens - Helen Downer completed an ERO Centre Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • curriculum
  • premises and facilities
  • health and safety practices
  • governance, management and administration.

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s systems for managing the following areas that have a potentially high impact on children's wellbeing:

  • emotional safety (including positive guidance and child protection)

  • physical safety (including supervision; sleep procedures; accidents; medication; hygiene; excursion policies and procedures)

  • suitable staffing (including qualification levels; police vetting; teacher registration; ratios)

  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

All early childhood services are required to promote children's health and safety and to regularly review their compliance with legal requirements.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Central Kids Kindergartens - Helen Downer will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

20 December 2016

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service 



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

43 children, aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 16 Girls 14

Ethnic composition


Middle Eastern



Other European

South East Asian







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

20 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

July 2013

Education Review

June 2010

Education Review

October 2007

The Purpose of ERO Reports

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the government department that, as part of its work, reviews early childhood services throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. ERO’s reports provide information for parents and communities about each service’s strengths and next steps for development. ERO’s bicultural evaluation framework Ngā Pou Here is described in SECTION 3 of this report. Early childhood services are partners in the review process and are expected to make use of the review findings to enhance children's wellbeing and learning.

3 General Information about Early Childhood Reviews

ERO’s Evaluation Framework

ERO’s overarching question for an early childhood education review is ‘How well placed is this service to promote positive learning outcomes for children?’ ERO focuses on the following factors as described in the bicultural framework Ngā Pou Here:

Pou Whakahaere – how the service determines its vision, philosophy and direction to ensure positive outcomes for children

Pou Ārahi – how leadership is enacted to enhance positive outcomes for children

Mātauranga – whose knowledge is valued and how the curriculum is designed to achieve positive outcomes for children

Tikanga whakaako – how approaches to teaching and learning respond to diversity and support positive outcomes for children.

Within these areas ERO considers the effectiveness of arotake – self review and of whanaungatanga – partnerships with parents and whānau.

ERO evaluates how well placed a service is to sustain good practice and make ongoing improvements for the benefit of all children at the service.

A focus for the government is that all children, especially priority learners, have an opportunity to benefit from quality early childhood education. ERO will report on how well each service promotes positive outcomes for all children, with a focus on children who are Māori, Pacific, have diverse needs, and are up to the age of two.

For more information about the framework and Ngā Pou Here refer to ERO’s Approach to Review in Early Childhood Services.

ERO’s Overall Judgement and Next Review

The overall judgement that ERO makes and the timing of the next review will depend on how well placed a service is to promote positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed – The next ERO review in four years
  • Well placed – The next ERO review in three years
  • Requires further development – The next ERO review within two years
  • Not well placed - The next ERO review in consultation with the Ministry of Education

ERO has developed criteria for each category. These are available on ERO’s website.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews are tailored to each service’s context and performance, within the overarching review framework. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to the service.