ERO Insights, April 2019

Insights Term One 2019

Kia ora tātou

Throughout ERO, as across the nation, we have all been deeply saddened by the events in Christchurch. This is an atrocity that scars us and causes much need for reflection. Through the last two weeks we have seen outstanding leadership from our school principals and teachers whose communities and families have been devastated by this barbarism. It is truly humbling to work in education alongside professionals who give every day to their communities in the face of such adversity. Our Christchurch schools have again exemplified true compassion, inclusion and leadership and I want to acknowledge them for the work that they have done and will continue to do in the months ahead. 

2019 will clearly be a year which defines the future direction for education in New Zealand for many years to come. Recent discussions by the Ministerial Advisory Group inquiry into Early Learning; the government’s review of Home Based Education and Care; and the Tomorrow’s Schools Review each raise significant implications for ERO’s future, our approach to education review and importantly strengthening the contribution of external evaluation in education. 

As I have outlined in previous editions of Insights, we are strongly of the view that rigorous independent review and evaluation - alongside internal self-review - are critical to a system which New Zealanders can have confidence in, and which is focussed on continuous improvement.  ERO aims to add value to the sector through both its individual provider reviews and its programme of national evaluations.

Over the past year, in response to what we have heard from the sector, we have made several changes in the way we conduct our reviews and in their focus. This programme of transformation is continuing in 2019.

Return Times

From Term 1 of this year we have dropped the use of return times in our reporting on early learning services (ELS) and schools. This will enable more nuanced targeting of our review effort in response to what we are seeing within services, and to real time change within individual schools and early learning services. It also separates the review cycle from the historical judgement that we may have made.

In schools, we will make a summary judgement of performance along a continuum from “Needs Development” to “Strong”, and in Early Learning Services from “Not Well Placed” through to “Very Well Placed”. We want to be very clear, in our reports and discussions with schools and services, about why they are placed where they are and what is required to further improve.

Assurance Reviews

We are currently trialling an Assurance Review process as part of our development of a new Quality Framework for Evaluation and Improvement in Early Learning Services.  The Quality Framework for Evaluation and Improvement in Early Learning Services will include the range of approaches used to review and evaluate in early childhood education settings.

The Assurance Review process will be used in services ERO is reviewing for the first time or which have previously been classified as “Not Well Placed” or “Requiring further Development”.   

Quality Evaluations will replace Education Reviews and focus on what the service knows about outcomes and the conditions and practices that support equity and excellence for all children. 

The evaluation indicators that describe high quality early childhood education practices and reflect the nature and intent of Te Whāriki (2017) are at the heart of this approach.  

We will be trialling the Quality Evaluation process in the second half of the year. We will also be seeking feedback on the evaluation indicators during this time.

You can read below about our 2018 assessment of the performance of New Zealand early learning services and schools, results from recent publications and investigations, an introduction to key personalities in ERO and information on our recently released Pacific Education Strategy:


Ngā mihi

Nicholas Pole

Chief Review Officer

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