River Kids - 26/07/2017

1 Evaluation of River Kids

How well placed is River Kids 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.


River Kids is in the coastal township of Taipa, in the Far North. It is privately owned and provides all-day education and care for up to 28 children, including 10 up to two years of age. A separate area in the centre is designated for babies and toddlers.

The centre's philosophy acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi and how it relates and connects with people, places, events and taonga.

The centre has a well established teaching team. The owner/manager, a registered early childhood teacher, shares the running of the centre with her staff. Most teachers are qualified. Three teachers work full time at the centre and three work on a part time basis. Teachers have built close relationships with families over time.

The centre's 2015 ERO report noted that children showed a strong sense of belonging and had positive relationships with staff. Areas identified for improvement included curriculum planning, implementation and evaluation, engagement with whānau, leadership and teacher appraisal. ERO recommended that the centre work with the Ministry of Education to address these areas and good progress has now been made.

The Review Findings

Children display a strong sense of belonging in the centre. They are settled and engage well in the centre's programme. Respectful and trusting relationships are evident in teachers' and children's interactions with each other. Children are articulate, independent, and curious learners. Their independence and decision making are fostered and supported by teachers.

Children confidently explore the inclusive and natural learning environment, and play contentedly alongside each other. Indoor and outdoor spaces provide children with room to experience and explore a range of activities that are designed to meet their physical, creative and intellectual needs. They provide children the opportunities to investigate, make choices and be challenged.

Teachers support children's learning well through open ended questioning and by responding positively to children's ideas. They are enthusiastic, join children in their inquiries and consistently model oral language skills in English and te reo Māori. Te ao Māori is reflected in the daily inclusion of te reo, kawa and tikanga Māori.

Infants and toddlers are well cared for. Teachers interact respectfully with younger children during routines and play experiences. They prioritise the emotional wellbeing of infants and toddlers, through being consistently available to them.

Programme planning is responsive and flexible. Teachers' planning is based on observations of children's individual and group interests and strengths. Every-day programmes include looking after the ecosystem and exploring the surrounding natural environment. The centre provides all-weather clothing for children so that they can venture outdoors in cold or wet weather.

Teachers record children's learning and development in individual assessment portfolios. Well written learning stories reflect children's interests and strengths. Parents contribute to the stories and comment positively that they can see the development of their children's learning dispositions and skills over time.

Regularly scheduled meetings ensure that the owner and staff maintain a shared focus on children and on improvement in centre operations. These meetings support staff to be up to date with professional development and current best practices in early childhood education.

Key Next Steps

The next steps to support centre improvement are for centre leaders to:

  • deepen evaluation processes to support ongoing programme development
  • review strategic planning to clarify development phases.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of River Kids 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 River Kids will be in three years. 

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

26 July 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 


Taipa, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

28 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys      19
Girls       19

Ethnic composition



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


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

26 July 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

February 2015

Education Review

March 2011

Education Review

May 2008

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.