My Treehut Stepping Stones - 12/09/2017

1 Evaluation of My Treehut Stepping Stones

How well placed is My Treehut Stepping Stones 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.


Stepping Stones is a home-based education and care service located in a residential area of Taupo and complements the adjacent centre My Treehut. Stepping stones is privately owned and operated and is licensed for 80 children including up to 40 children under the age of two. At the time of this ERO review the roll of 29, included 3 Māori children.

In addition to the licensee who is the owner and director of the home-based care service, a qualified and fully registered visiting teacher co-ordinates and oversees the quality of education and care for the service. The visiting teacher has a focus on delivering targeted professional learning opportunities for educarers on a termly basis to develop their knowledge and skills in teaching and learning.

The services philosophy focuses on providing opportunities for children to play, rest, eat and grow in the comfort of the home. The philosophy promotes close relationships between the child, their whānau and the educarer. Children are supported to develop the identity of themselves as independent, competent and confident lifelong learners, able to challenge their own and others thinking and be successful in life. The service was created as a vision to promote positive learning situations for very young children in homes to allow the child to form strong attachments with one educarer.

This is the first ERO review for the Home-based service having been established in 2015.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from positive feedback and interactions that contribute to authentic learning opportunities and outcomes. They are encouraged to participate in wider community activities that include playgroups, music sessions and visits to places of interest that enhance their emerging knowledge. Social competency and self-management skills are supported through high levels of engagement and intentional teaching moments. Children experience respectful and responsive learning relationships with adults.

Children up to the age of two enjoy positive and secure one to one interactions with the visiting teacher, educarers, families and whānau. Infants and toddlers are encouraged to follow their individual interests, and are empowered to make choices about their learning that is meaningful.

The curriculum is well-designed to promote positive and purposeful learning opportunities for children. Curriculum activities include participating in a range of music, science, literacy and numeracy learning opportunities. A bi-cultural curriculum promotes the learning of te ao Māori through te reo and tikanga, waiata, karakia and places of significance for children and their whānau. Effective planning and assessment practices value and respond to children’s interests, prior knowledge and ways of learning. Children experience a rich curriculum where they are listened to and encouraged to become confident and successful learners and explorers.

The visiting teacher has worked collaboratively with educarers to support and strengthen their knowledge of effective assessment practices. She models best practice to further strengthened educarers knowledge and understanding of effective teaching and learning. Clear expectations have been developed to support and guide educarers practice. Positive relationships between the visiting teacher, educarer, children and their families are promoting reciprocal learning partnerships that are purposeful and meaningful.

A robust internal evaluation process supports positive outcomes for children and ongoing improvement. An outcome of this process has been the development of a responsive curriculum through a continuous cycle of review and change.

The services philosophy, vision, goals and policies set clear direction for the service and guides day to day operations. A detailed strategic and annual plan clearly demonstrates how the vision and goals will be enacted. The owner/licensee provides strong support and mentoring for the visiting teacher through a robust appraisal system that guides quality practice and targeted professional learning. Children’s learning is well-supported through an effective and clear focus on providing educarers with rich knowledge and skills.

Key Next Steps

Leaders and ERO agree that to enhance the services provision for education and care consideration needs to be given to:

  • further assisting educarers to identify how to extend learning and show progress of learning over time

  • supporting educarers to recognise, affirm and document the language, culture and identity of each child as part of the assessment practice

  • encouraging parents to be more involved in making decisions for their child’s learning through the use of internal evaluation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of My Treehut Stepping Stones completed an ERO Home-based Education and Care 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 My Treehut Stepping Stones will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

12 September 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 Home-based Education and Care Service 



Ministry of Education profile number


Institution type

Homebased Network

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

80 children, including up to 40 aged under 2

Service roll


Standard or Quality Funded


Gender composition

Boys 16 Girls 13

Ethnic composition



Number of qualified coordinators in the network


Required ratios of staff educators to children

Under 2


Over 2


Review team on site

July 2017

Date of this report

12 September 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


No previous ERO reports


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 the draft methodology for ERO reviews in Home-based Education and Care Services: July 2014

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.