Topkids Totara Street - 06/03/2017

1 Evaluation of Topkids Totara Street

How well placed is Topkids Totara Street 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.


Topkids Totara Street is located at Totara Point, a commercial and industrial area of Taupō. Mount Tauhara overlooks the centre and is a symbolic connection with the history and legends of Tūwharetoa Iwi. It is licensed to provide all-day education and care for 80 children. Since the 2013 ERO review, the licence maximum of up to two year olds has been reduced from 24 to 18 children. The centre's policy and practice is to enrol children from the age of 3 months, and it provides separate areas for infants, toddlers up to 3 years of age, and older children. It is staffed to exceed the minimum number of teachers required by current regulations.

At the time of this ERO review, 94 children were enrolled, including 22 who identify as Māori. The role also includes children from a variety of other ethnic backgrounds.

The centre opened nearly eleven years ago. Since then it has been re-developed in response to changing needs. The outdoor areas place more emphasis on the natural world and provide interesting, safe play areas.

The centre philosophy values and promotes the involvement and partnership between kaiako, children, whānau, and the centre community. The centre's symbols, Totara tree represents strength and Koru wrap-around support.

Since ERO's 2013 review the leadership structure has been reviewed and a new manager, assistant manager and head teacher have been appointed. There have also been a number of changes to the teaching team. Nearly all teachers are qualified and certificated early childhood teachers.

The umbrella of Best Start Educare provides policy guidelines, strategic direction, financial and business management. Professional guidance and development for staff is provided through appraisal, teacher inquiry, internal reviews, quality education and care audit (QEC). The centre is supported by the area manager, who works collaboratively to empower centre leadership and grow teachers’ capability to implement ‘best practice’. She also supports implementation of the centre vision, philosophy and strategic goals. These goals cover staffing, finances, curriculum, resource and premises, and communication and consultation with parents and whānau.

The Review Findings

Topkids Totara Street is very well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Children, parents and teachers develop positive, reciprocal and supportive relationships. The centre manager and teachers place priority on welcoming children and families, ensuring their strong sense of belonging in the centre. Teachers' respectful communication with parents enables the sharing of valued information about children, family, and what they bring to the centre. Collaborative relationships result in a settled environment, where children's physical and emotional wellbeing is nurtured. Children are affirmed as individuals and as capable, competent learners.

Centre leaders and teachers demonstrate a strong commitment to growing a genuine and responsive partnership with Tūwharetoa Iwi. Their many interactions with iwi are supporting the development of a bicultural curriculum and practices. Teachers' knowledge and appreciation of Māori perspectives, local history, stories and places of significance are enabling all children to gain an understanding of the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa. Assessment for Māori children shows that they participate confidently and contribute as tangata whenua.

Professional leadership promotes of the centre's vision, philosophy and strategic goals. There is a collaborative approach resulting in shared understanding, high levels of communication, and consistent approaches to all aspects of centre development. As a result there is a focus on the best outcomes for children and families.

Teachers foster and support children to further develop their social skills and competence. Children are confident to make choices and lead their own play. They form positive relationships with others and establish ongoing friendships.

Teachers promote high quality teaching practices. They are aware of up-to-date theories and ways of implementing best practice. A sound range of strategies encourage children to follow their interest in play, exploration and learning.

Teachers foster and support children to further develop their social skills and competence. Children confidently make choices, lead their own play, and establish positive relationships and ongoing friendships.

Learning environments are well designed and thoughtfully presented to provoke children's curiosity and engage their interest. Each space is carefully prepared to respond to the capabilities of the different age groups and to children's individual identities. Children have access to all areas of play, both indoors and outside, throughout the day. The continuity of their investigation and learning is well supported. Children benefit from many opportunities to revisit and extend their learning.

Literacy is well integrated throughout the curriculum in natural and meaningful ways. Teachers skilfully respond to children's interest in literacy and foster effective oral and non-verbal communication. There are extensive opportunities for children to interact with others and enjoy sharing books, singing, and engaging in performing and expressive arts. Children are confident to express their ideas and feelings, and gain skills to support their ongoing learning. It is now important for teachers to extend these effective teaching and learning strategies to promoting children's interest and conceptual knowledge of mathematics across the curriculum.

Teachers have developed sound processes for assessment, planning and evaluation. They recognise children's learning dispositions and respond to these by providing meaningful experiences, and appropriately planned and spontaneous teaching strategies. Assessment includes rich information from parents, whānau and all teachers, which is documented in children's individual digital and hard-copy profiles to be available for children and parents to share. Teachers have identified the need to involve children more deliberately as partners in their own learning and assessment. This strategy is likely to further develop children's awareness of themselves as active learners and decision makers.

Leaders and teachers use well-designed processes to support children and families during transitions into, within and beyond the centre. The infant and toddler teaching team interact closely, ensuring the teachers know children and parents well, and provide appropriate support when infants begin to visit the toddler area. Children are able to stay with the toddler group until near three years of age, enabling them to develop confidence for playing and exploring in the more challenging area for older children.

Leaders are working to further develop relationships with school and new entrant teachers to communicate their knowledge about children's learning journey as they approach transition beyond the centre. The centre curriculum guides children to develop skills for solving problems, managing their learning, and relationships. Together with a programme of school visits for children and parents, these cumulative experiences support children's confidence and prepare them to find their place in a school environment and culture.

The centre conducts well-planned internal review that evaluates significant aspects of centre practice, leading to positive outcomes for children. A recent review of the philosophy in action has resulted in clearly expressed statements about the centre philosophy, which are supported by teaching guidelines. Internal review supports teachers' development plans for appraisal.

Staff collaborate to build their understanding consistently about centre development. Teacher's individual reflections contribute to the continuing growth of their practice, including partnership with parents, and commitment to a bicultural curriculum. A further review, which is still ongoing, has developed a centre vision and is developing strategic direction and goals to sustain and further improve the quality of the service.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre leaders agree that assessment for learning would be enhanced by building on and extending children's learning pathways. Teachers should now consider ways to strengthen and better document their intentional teaching responses, and the resulting outcomes for individual children's learning. 

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Topkids Totara Street 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 Topkids Totara Street will be in four years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

6 March 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 


Tauhara, Taupō

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

80 children, including up to 18 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 48 Boys 46

Ethnic composition




Other European

Cook Island






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

January 2017

Date of this report

6 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

December 2013

Education Review

November 2010

Education Review

November 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.