Somerset Early Learning Centre - 12/11/2014

1 Evaluation of Somerset Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Somerset Early Learning Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Somerset Early Learning Centre requires support to further develop aspects of:

  • management of roles and responsibilities
  • quality of the programme for young children
  • learning environments
  • self review against intended outcomes.

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


Somerset Early Learning Centre is a privately owned and operated centre providing all-day education and care for children from three months to school age. It was opened in 2009 and is located in a modified house close to a local primary school. The centre is licensed to provide education and care for 23 children including up to eight under two years. At the time of this review 28 children were enrolled. This included 19 of Māori descent, who whakapapa to a range of iwi in Aotearoa. The centre is organised into two age-based rooms, babies up to two years, and children over two. The centre operates between the hours of 7.30 am and 5.30pm on week days.

The centre philosophy aspires to provide a safe and stimulating environment, where children learn by doing and children are provided with many 'hands on' learning experiences. Other important aspects of the centre philosophy give children the freedom to make choices, and provide whānau with a welcoming environment where their cultural heritage and beliefs are respected and fostered. The centre also gives priority to providing a programme that responds to the whānau and community, and emphasises caring for the environment and living things.

Teachers have been engaged in professional development with an external facilitator to strengthen teaching, assessment and planning practice, staff appraisal and self review.

Since the 2011 ERO review managers have made progress in addressing assessment practice and improving the outdoor environment. Further development is still required.

The Review Findings

The owner/manager is committed to minimising barriers to enable tamariki and their families to participate in early childhood education. The introduction of an affordable fee structure, provision of all meals, and providing transport to and from the centre for children support and encourage whānau and family participation. An open door policy operates where all whānau and parents are welcomed. The centre has an inclusive culture and staff are friendly and non-judgemental.

The philosophy of the centre has recently been reviewed in consultation with parents and whānau, teachers, children and community. A strategic plan has been developed and is supported by an annual plan. ERO and the owner/manager agreed that the strategic plan should be reviewed to include action plans for teaching and learning goals to promote positive outcomes for children.

A positive working culture has been successfully established by the owner/manager. She role models positive behaviour actions and language for children, teachers and whānau. As leader of the team she searches for professional development opportunities to strengthen teacher effectiveness. The manager and teachers work collaboratively to strengthen the quality of education and care.

The owner/manager has also developed positive relationships with teachers, children and their families. She is committed to promoting respect and equality and her responsibilities include centre organisation and management. She has identified and ERO agrees that there is a need to delegate and empower staff to take on more leadership roles and responsibilities. This would include:

  • discussion with teachers about the specific roles and responsibilities of leadership positions
  • developing a shared understanding of self review which is focused on improving teaching practice and children’s learning
  • developing networks with other early childhood centres to extend teacher knowledge and provide ongoing support and development.

Teachers know children and their families well. They have been involved in professional development to ensure the teaching programme is based on children’s interests and learning needs. Developing children's understanding of others and self management skills are priority focus areas. Teachers encourage whānau to share information from home and contribute to planning and these ideas are recorded in portfolios. Children share learning experiences with their parents and this strengthens the home-centre partnership. They also experience trips into the local and wider community and whānau are encouraged to participate in these activities.

Bicultural practices are evident. Teachers integrate waiata and karakia into the programme and Māori signage increasing understandings and usage around the centre.

Children are encouraged to make choices for their own learning. Teachers identify children’s learning needs and interests. They promote early concepts of literacy and mathematics in the context of children’s play and through their conversations with children. Teachers use a variety of strategies to invite children’s participation in the programmes. The centre supports young children, as they approach transition to school. Transition within the centre is provided through opportunities to play with siblings and other children.

Teachers and leaders foster sensitive and nurturing relationships that value children for who they are and what they bring to the centre. Infants and toddlers are provided with appropriate care and education. Teachers respect these young children, and are responsive to their temperaments and preferences.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre leaders agree that areas for further development include:

  • accessing professional development and guidance to strengthen educational leadership and centre management
  • strengthening teachers’ knowledge of "best" early childhood educational and care practice as it relates to age specific groups and ability levels
  • strengthening knowledge and understanding of self review to focus on improving teaching practice and learning outcomes for children
  • improving the accessibility of resources particularly for young children in the indoor and outdoor environments.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Somerset Early Learning Centre 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.

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service consult with the Ministry of Education and plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Somerset Early Learning Centre will be within two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

12 November 2014

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

23 children, including up to 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 15 Girls 13

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





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

September 2014

Date of this report

12 November 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2011

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.