Discovery Care and Learning - 15/07/2014

1 Evaluation of Discovery Care and Learning

How well placed is Discovery Care and Learning 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.


Discovery Care and Learning is in its fourth year of operation under the current owner. Early in 2014 the centre was relicensed for up to 50 children in full day education and care. The centre caters for children from infancy to primary school age. Children participate in two groups; over three and under three years, with a defined area for infants. The roll is full with a waiting list in place.

The centre is preparing for further development of the premises and outdoor environment to extend education opportunities for children. The owner holds the governance role with a head teacher responsible for day-to-day operations. The owner provides effective support for leadership development in the centre.

The centre philosophy commits to the provision of a safe caring environment, following children’s diverse interests and curiosity. A guidance approach is promoted to help children communicate feelings and needs. This is seen to be significant for effective care, teaching and learning.

The centre serves a diverse cultural community. There is a continuing focus on building collaborative partnerships with parents and whānau to involve them in contributing to programmes and decision making.

Since the 2011 ERO review, several staff changes have occurred, with new room leaders appointed in the past year. Five of the seven full-time staff are registered teachers with two unqualified staff having served for over two years.

The Review Findings

Practices generally reflect the values and principles stated in the philosophy. Respectful, warm and positive relationships amongst children and with adults are promoted. The centre has a welcoming and inclusive tone where children are well supported to make choices.

There is much time for free play, in which children lead their learning. They make choices about where they play and with what. Children independently engage in exploration of the environment. The centre places a lot of emphasis on children’s discovery, in keeping with the name and philosophy. Children have access to spacious indoor and outdoor areas.

Teachers demonstrate a respectful approach to the care and learning of children under two years. They maintain a calm pace in which infants and toddlers have time to explore. Infants and toddlers are contented and actively participate in a mixed-age programme. Provision for under two-year-olds is based on giving choice, respecting individuality and plenty of space and age appropriate equipment.

Teachers collaboratively plan learning programmes which are responsive to children’s emerging interests and observed play. Input of parents and whānau increasingly contribute to programme planning. A recent review of transition to school, using wide consultation, has contributed to decisions about the current approach and learning priorities for children as they enter school. Planned numeracy and literacy strategies are integrated into play and learning.

Portfolios provide regular records of a wide range of learning experiences. Increased planning for and assessment of communication and oral language should assist with development of communication skills.

Teachers’ use of tikanga Māori contexts and concepts is especially evident with children over three. In this area, children actively participate in planned learning where Māori perspectives are affirmed, and provide a meaningful context for exploration and communication. ERO agrees with leaders’ plans to develop teachers’ capacity further to promote success for Māori as Māori through language, culture and identity.

Self-review practices have developed since the previous ERO report. Ongoing self review is valued and recent reviews have focused on improved programmes and opportunities for children’s learning. More explicit review of the impact of teaching strategies on outcomes for children is a next step. This should assist with targeting professional learning and development (PLD) programmes.

Strategic and annual plans identify a range of goals and tasks to develop the property and provision for children’s learning. Defining expected outcomes would help with evaluating and reviewing progress against the goals.

Centre leaders promote and model leadership and collegiality across the centre. Mentoring, PLD and regular reporting promote a shared understanding of expected practices during a period of change and expansion. Appraisal processes complement these strategies to support educators’ professional growth and development.

Key Next Steps

Teachers should evaluate the extent to which teaching strategies foster children’s oral language development and communication skills.

Centre leaders and teachers should review and develop assessment practices so that the programme more consistently:

  • responds to individual interests and adds challenge and complexity to learning,
  • includes cultural perspectives that foster language, culture and identity
  • includes reference to communication and language development of children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Discovery Care and Learning 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 Discovery Care and Learning will be in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

15 July 2014

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.

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

50 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 29, Girls 21

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā

Other ethnic groups




Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

15 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2011

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.