Willows Early Learning Centre - 21/02/2018

1 Evaluation of Willows Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Willows 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.


Willows Early Learning Centre is a privately owned education and care service. It opened mid-2016 and this is its first ERO report. Since opening, the centre has experienced significant roll growth. The purpose-built centre is well designed to take advantage of natural light and indoor-outdoor flow. The co-owners lead and manage the centre.

Willows is licensed for 83 children up to school age, including up to 25 children under two years of age. Children are grouped in to three age-based rooms. Each room is led by a team leader.

Teachers base teaching and learning on positive, reciprocal relationships. Children learn within a peaceful, natural, bicultural environment where play is highly valued.

The Review Findings

Children learn in calm, well-organised environments. The learning priorities of confidence, leadership, responsibility, independence, socially competent learners, valuing interests and uniqueness, respect, allowing choice and natural environment are clearly identified. Centre leaders recognise relationships as vital to successful interactions, and teaching and learning for better outcomes for children.

Children benefit from the teachers' strong focus on learning. The learning is well supported by clear processes to ensure:

  • planning shows the intended learning for individual children and what teachers will do to help children learn
  • continuity and coherence of learning between home and centre, and between the rooms within the centre
  • planning reflects the Te Whāriki curriculum, the centre's learning priorities and children's strengths.

Learning is visible and accessible to children and parents through informative portfolios and wall displays. Children with diverse needs are well supported and catered for. Deliberate practices lead to smooth transitions into, within and out of the centre.

The 'seedlings room' for children under two years of age effectively provides for the physical and emotional wellbeing needs of these children. The continuity of care contributes greatly to the sensitive, responsive and nurturing interactions the teachers have with the infants and toddlers. The children have space and time to lead their learning through play. Resources are easily available to the children.

Māori children have opportunities to see and learn about Māori culture. Te reo Māori is used increasingly by teachers throughout the centre. Leaders acknowledge the need for ongoing development of their confidence, knowledge and abilities in providing a strong and meaningful bicultural environment. Leaders also plan to better reflect other cultures of children at the centre within the curriculum.

Leaders are systematically building the teaching team's knowledge and skills, and sustainable practices in the centre. This includes effective internal evaluation/self review and useful professional learning and development. There are appropriate procedures to guide teaching, and systems to lead and manage the centre. Centre leaders have high expectations for teaching and learning. Leaders and teachers are improvement focused. They regularly reflect on their practices and make suitable adjustments. There is well-planned alignment from the centre's learning priorities to its philosophy, strategic planning, curriculum, and teaching and learning.

Key Next Steps

Leaders and teachers need to continue to strengthen evaluation practices to:

  • evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching in making a difference to children's learning and progress
  • use evaluations to ascertain how effectively the centre is achieving its set learning priorities.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Willows 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 Willows Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

21 February 2018

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

83 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 48 Girls: 45

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

December 2017

Date of this report

21 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous reports

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.