Magic Sparks Milson Ltd - 08/12/2017

1 Evaluation of Magic Sparks Milson Ltd

How well placed is Magic Sparks Milson Ltd 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.


Magic Sparks Milson Ltd, previously known as Discovery Care and Learning, is one of three centres in Wellington and Palmerston North.

The centre is licenced for 50 children, including 25 children aged up to two years. Currently 13 Māori children are on the roll. Care and education is provided in two learning spaces, over three years and under three years.

The managing director and general manager oversee the business operation and the day-to-day management of teaching. An operation support person has been recently appointed. The area manager supports the team leaders in both Palmerston North centres who are responsible for the day-to-day operation. Three of the teachers are working towards full registration. A cook prepares and provides healthy meals for the children.

Within the past two years the outdoor area in the over three area has been redeveloped.

The July 2014 ERO review identified teaching and assessment practices as areas for development. Progress is evident.

The Review Findings

The centre's philosophical values and Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, are evident in programme. Children are engaged, confident, self-motivated and participate in activities for sustained periods. There are opportunities for creative, expressive and imaginative exploration. Literacy, numeracy and science materials are appropriate to support the range of age groups. The newly developed outdoor area provides a range of creative, artistic and challenging learning experiences. Celebrations with families enrich the programme. Children experience respectful and reciprocal relationships.

A well-planned programme is responsive to children's emerging interests, strengths and identified needs. This guides teachers in articulating and reflecting on their practice. Parent aspirations are sought and visible through the documentation. Evaluation is used to support decision making that informs teaching and learning steps.

Children aged up to two years are comfortable and confident with the rituals that take place. They experience respectful, responsive relationships with adults. Teachers follow children’s rhythms. Infants use verbal and non-verbal cues to communicate their needs. Children are supported to explore the environment at their own pace and to participate in the programme.

Children’s learning journeys highlight their engagement in activities and centre life. These show progress of learning, and at times, demonstrate how intentional teaching strategies extend children’s learning. These books are regularly audited by the area manager and team leader. The introduction of e-portfolios has potential to increase parents' participation and contribution to their children's learning.

Regular planning meetings show that teachers know the children well. Activities are organised around children's interests and progress is noted in learning stories. Strengthening the monthly planning evaluation assessment cycle, by making clear and specific judgements about the effectiveness of teaching strategies, should lead to deeper understanding of the effectiveness of programmes.

Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are valued and evident in the programme. Children’s cultures are reflected throughout the environment and in documentation. Use of kupu Māori is encouraged. Teachers use respectful language in their interactions with all children. They encourage them to be independent and collaborative members of this learning community. The environment appropriately reflects Aotearoa New Zealand.

The educational success of Māori children is promoted. Their culture, language and identity is strongly affirmed and celebrated. The cultural expertise of whānau should be sought by teachers to further enrich the curriculum. Strengthening links with local iwi and knowledge of the local rohe should support the centre to increase whānau Māori participation. The service has identified that as some Māori children are also of Pacific origin, developing their knowledge of Pacific cultures is an area of focus.

Teachers work closely with families to support children identified as having diverse needs. They liaise with external agencies when required. Useful individual development plans are developed in consultation with parents and whānau.

There is a considered process for transition into and through the centre, and on to school. The programme for transition to school focuses on literacy, mathematics and social competence. The centre provides parents with a summary of their child's last few learning stories to share with the school. This is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies, and the strands of Te Whāriki.

Internal evaluation leads to positive change and improvement in teaching and learning. There is a collaborative team approach and parents are consulted and contribute to reviews. Deeper analysis and sense making of evidence collected within reviews, should support better decision making about change.

An effective appraisal process is in place and meets requirements. Targeted observations based on teachers' goals should add value to the process. The service is currently reviewing the appraisal procedure to incorporate an inquiry based approach to teaching. A useful advice and guidance programme meaningfully supports teachers to achieve full registration. This is confidently led by the area manager. Effective leadership and collaborative teaching practice are evident.

Key Next Steps

Centre leaders and ERO agree that next steps are to further strengthen:

  • planning for learning

  • the evaluative aspect of internal evaluation

  • links with local iwi.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Magic Sparks Milson Ltd 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 Magic Sparks Milson Ltd will be in three years.

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

8 December 2017

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

Girls 26, Boys 20

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

8 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

July 2014

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.