St Mary's Preschool Avondale - 16/04/2015

1 Evaluation of St Mary's Preschool Avondale

How well placed is St Mary's Preschool Avondale to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

St Mary’s Preschool needs support to develop the quality of the programme provided for children and the effectiveness of centre management.

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


St Mary’s Preschool Avondale is located within the grounds of St Mary’s School in Avondale, Auckland. The centre’s philosophy places an emphasis on providing a learning programme based on Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and the Catholic Early Childhood Curriculum Statement.

The centre is licensed under the 2008 regulations for up to twenty four children over two years of age. The principal of the school is the preschool licensee. The centre manager, who has been with the centre since it opened in 2004, leads the centre. He has a staff of two qualified teachers, works with parent representatives on the management group and reports regularly to the principal.

The staff recently accessed professional support to better align the Catholic Early Childhood Curriculum Statement to the centre’s programme.

The Review Findings

The centre provides a basic curriculum for young children. They have access to a range of resources and learning spaces. Teachers encourage the development of children’s social skills and support their physical play.

Children are curious and keen to learn. They have respectful relationships with adults and each other. As part of the programme, children have set routines and learning activities. They are involved in simple play activities and are settled and compliant learners.

Teachers are beginning to include te reo Māori in routines and to implement the bi-cultural aspects of Te Whāriki and respond to children’s cultural heritages. One teacher uses children’s home language. Work in this area now needs to progress further. More use of te reo throughout the day and greater inclusion of children’s cultures in the programme and learning environment would be worthwhile.

Teachers work closely alongside children. However, their interactions are mostly directive and, consequently, do not support children’s independent learning or the development of their thinking skills well. It would be useful for children to have more opportunities to initiate their own play that teachers then support. Teachers would benefit from external support to help them evaluate programmes, to be more observant of children’s learning and to consider their own teaching responses.

Teachers keep records of children’s progress and parents can access this information. Teachers should now extend ways in which they record children’s individual interests. These records should show what children are learning and how teachers are providing ongoing support for learning through play.

Early childhood services are required to have an ongoing cycle of self review to help them monitor how well they are meeting legislative requirements and delivering good quality programmes. The teaching team has not yet developed sound understandings of how to undertake robust self review. A focus on the development of effective self review practice should help managers and teachers to make well informed decisions and identify priorities for development.

The centre has developed a strategic vision and an annual management plan. It would be beneficial for long-term planning to focus on changes that improve outcomes for children. Self review should be used to monitor progress towards strategic and annual plan goals.

Key Next Steps

St Mary’s Preschool Avondale needs support to further develop the quality of its curriculum and the effectiveness of centre management. The teacher appraisal process needs further work and should be linked to the registered teachers’ criteria and signed off by a registered teacher. Centre managers and teachers also need to develop a clearer understanding of good teaching practice.

The centre’s programme needs to be enhanced and to include a greater focus on extending children’s learning within the context of play. To help children to be more actively engaged as learners, teachers need to increase the level of challenge and choice in the programme. Teachers should promote children’s thinking and creativity by:

  • valuing children’s potential as confident and capable learners and developing their self management skills
  • focusing on learning outcomes rather than on activities in planning, assessment and evaluation processes
  • fostering literacy and numeracy within the context of children’s play rather than through teacher directed activities
  • using open-ended questions to develop children’s conversational and social skills.

The centre manager and teachers should continue with work to develop effective self-review practices and ensure this work includes:

  • reviewing the centre’s philosophy with all teachers and whānau
  • reviewing areas of play to improve children’s access to resources and to extend their learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of St Mary's Preschool Avondale 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance in many areas. To meet requirements the service needs to improve health and safety policy and practice relating to:

  • children excursions from the centre
  • hazard identification
  • administration of medication
  • child protection responsibilities
  • teacher induction and performance appraisal
  • police vetting of non-teaching and unregistered employees and contractors
  • the documentation of complaints procedures

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008 [PF16, 26, 28; HS 18, 20, 28, 30, 31; GMA 1-4, 6-8; Education Act 1989 319D-319FA].

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 St Mary's Preschool Avondale will be within two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

17 April 2015

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


Avondale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

24 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 13

Boys 10

Ethnic composition













Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80% Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

17 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2012


Education Review

November 2008


Education Review

November 2005

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.