Tokoroa Early Learning Centre - 17/10/2016

1 Evaluation of Tokoroa Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Tokoroa Early Learning Centre 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.


Tokoroa Early Learning Centre provides education and care for children from six weeks old to school age. Currently 51 children attend, including 30 Māori and three children of Cook Island descent.

Since the ERO review in 2013 there have been ongoing changes to leadership and staff. The centre manager took up her position in term two, 2016 and is providing experienced leadership for the teaching team. She is well supported by two professional leaders who frequently visit and provide appropriate mentoring for leadership and improvement at the centre. Long serving staff and the office administrator have provided continuity for families and children through a time of change. The qualified teaching team of six is supported by three dedicated teacher aides.

Significant improvements have been made to the outdoor environment to provide physical challenge for children and greater access to the natural world through gardening and exploration of the spacious area. The environment in the under-two area has been improved and provides calm and peaceful spaces for children's care and learning. The sleep room now caters for older and younger children and gives a quiet and safe area for their sleep routines.

The areas for development identified in the 2013 ERO report related to teaching practice and planning processes have been well addressed. Teachers participated in appropriate professional development with a focus on positive strategies to guide children's learning and behaviour, and culturally responsive approaches to planning for and documenting children's learning. Flexible routines enable children to sustain their play and follow their interests. These useful strategies are now being consistently implemented across the centre.

The centre aims to support the cultural identity of children through a child-initiated programme that enhances children's interests and abilities.

The centre operates under the direct governance of the CNI Early Education Services Trust. The trust’s strategic direction sets out the service’s vision, expected educational outcomes, and values. It also defines the strategies for delivering the principles and strands of the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, and for respecting Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The trust works positively to provide equitable opportunities for families.

Compliance and regulatory requirements are well monitored by professional leaders. Policies and procedures ensure the centre meets regulatory requirements and management expectations. The professional leaders provide guidance, and mentor teachers as part of the appraisal process. Teachers have generous opportunities to attend professional development opportunities to grow their teaching and leadership skills.

Personnel matters are well managed. The trust has undertaken a long-term review of teacher appraisal in consultation with teachers. This is enabling them to respond to the expectations of the Education Council and increase the depth of teachers’ reflections about their practice. The trust has also responded effectively to the Vulnerable Children’s Act, and is well-placed to complete required changes to policies and practices for the protection of children.

The Review Findings

Children up to two years old learn and play in a welcoming, safe and peaceful environment. They make choices from a wide variety of good quality equipment that reflects a home-like, real-world environment. Babies are settled and secure. They benefit from observing the toddlers exploring and experimenting in the under-two area. Toddlers are confident, cheerful explorers, express their opinions and spend time sociably with their peers. There are times during the day when younger children can join older children in their play. This supports positive transitions across the centre. Teachers demonstrate nurturing and affectionate relationships as they care for children with skilful, responsive and unhurried practices. These positive experiences are contributing to children's wellbeing and belonging.

Older children actively initiate their own play and learning. They are developing skills as resilient and self-managing learners alongside interested teachers. The environment for learning is well designed with interesting spaces to explore an appropriate range of equipment and many opportunities to learn about Papatūānuku and the natural world. A particular strength is the vegetable garden area where vegetables are grown to cook in the centre and to share with the wider community. Children build their social skills with others and demonstrate support as they interact with younger children and siblings.

The programme includes opportunities for children to celebrate their cultures through sharing language, stories, music, dramatic play and cultural celebrations. This is contributing to success for Māori and enhancing the knowledge of te ao Māori for all children in the centre. A next step is for teachers to explore ways to further acknowledge the individual language, culture and identity of all children in portfolios, the environment and the centre programme.

Teachers are working collegially to build their new team and embed the learning from recent and ongoing professional learning. They recognise the cultural diversity of families. Teachers work in professional partnerships with specialist agencies to provide an inclusive service for whānau/families and children with identified needs and special rights. Positive practices are:

  • implementing tikanga Māori practices, sharing whanaungatanga and manaakitanga with families and the wider community, and beginning to be familiar with the stories of Raukawa

  • sustaining children's interests and engaging with them in play

  • presenting the environment with interesting provocations

  • having conversations with children that promote social competence

  • modelling appropriate and respectful behaviours that consider children's rights and preferences.

It is important for the positive strategies gained from recent professional development to be consistently embedded in teaching practice.

Children's learning is displayed on centre walls and in individual portfolio books for their enjoyment. The use of digital learning stories is enhancing the ways that children's learning is shared and increasing parent voice in the learning process. It is important to ensure that all families have opportunities to access this facility and to share in the learning partnership.

Teachers undertake regular and effective self-review processes to improve outcomes for children and staff. Teachers receive regular and robust feedback about their practice and centre organisation from professional leaders. These good practices are contributing to centre sustainability and development.

Key Next Steps

Self review would be enhanced by developing clear, shared expectations and success indicators for all centre operations to support quality assurance processes.

Professional leaders and the centre manager should continue to develop teachers' understanding of ways to add complexity to children's learning and development and to consistently document this process. This is likely to support learning and progress to be more effectively shared with children, families and whānau and teachers. Increasing the opportunities for parents to be partners in the learning process is an important consideration.

A stronger focus is necessary on planning and documenting intentional holistic experiences for children to build their early literacy and number knowledge in meaningful contexts across all areas of play. Attention to this aspect of planning should enhance children's opportunities to achieve excellent learning outcomes.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Tokoroa 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.

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 Tokoroa Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

17 October 2016

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



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 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 30 Girls 21

Ethnic composition



Cook Island




Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

17 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2013

Education Review

March 2010

Education Review

June 2007

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.