The Introduction

In 2005, ERO evaluated the quality of self review and its contribution to improving outcomes for children in 168 early childhood services. ERO published a national evaluation report Self-review in Early Childhood Education Services, in December 2005. Since then the Ministry of Education has published guidelines to help services undertake self review. It was timely in 2008 for ERO to investigate the progress services were making in understanding the purpose of self review and with the implementation of self review.

ERO, in its Framework and Resources for Early Childhood Education Review [3] defines self review as “a process through which early childhood education services evaluate the effectiveness of what they do, with the aim of improving the quality of their practice” (p. 5). This aligns closely with the definition in Nga Arohaehae Whai Hua: Self-review Guidelines for Early Childhood Education [4], which states “review is the deliberate and ongoing process of finding out about how well our practice enhances children’s learning and development. Review allows us to see which aspects of our practice are working well and what we could do better. As a result we can make decisions about what to do to improve” (p.8).

ERO’s Statement of Intent (2008) notes that it will help schools and early childhood education services to raise the quality of education through internal review and information provided by external review. It also notes that if schools and early childhood education services understand the purpose and process of evaluation (both internal and external), they are more likely to use evaluation findings to contribute to their future planning and ongoing improvement. This current evaluation provides an opportunity to strengthen the extent to which external review complements self review in early childhood services, and to improve services’ capability to evaluate their own performance.


The 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education, Pathways to the Future: Nga Huarahi Arataki, [5] sets out goals, strategies and actions to achieve the vision of quality education for infants, toddlers and young children in Aotearoa New Zealand. The plan states that engaging in effective self review is integral to achieving positive learning outcomes for children and their families and whanau, and to improving the quality of education that early childhood services provide.

The Ministry of Education has published several guiding documents to support early childhood services’ self review. These include:

  • The Quality Journey/He Haerenga Whai Hua: Improving quality in early childhood services (1999).
  • Nga Arohaehae Whai Hua: Self-review Guidelines for Early Childhood Education (2006).

The most recent guidelines, Nga Arohaehae Whai Hua, were distributed to all licensed and chartered early childhood services in November 2006. These outline a review process and include information about what self review involves, why it is important and what contributes to its effectiveness.

In 2007, professional development funded by the Ministry of Education included an emphasis on integrating self review into all professional development programmes.