Generally, ERO’s findings present a positive picture of how most services are supporting children’s learning and development. However, in a few services ERO found evidence of poor quality practice that is likely to be harmful for children.

ERO found significant variation[18] between service types in the extent to which their curriculum supported children as competent and confident learners. Kindergartens were more likely than Playcentres and education and care centres to effectively support children to be socially and emotionally competent. There were, however, common features across the service types of highly effective practice and practice that was less effective in supporting children’s social competence and understanding of appropriate behaviour.

The early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, provides a strong foundation for services to plan, implement and evaluate their curriculum for supporting children’s developing social competence and emotional wellbeing. Te Whāriki describes experiences and indicative outcomes for infants, toddlers and young children. ERO observed these in action where educator practices were highly effective.

Services should regularly evaluate their curriculum, associated policies and procedures and practices to ensure infants, toddlers and young children are well supported, socially and emotionally. Through this process services can understand the impact of educators’ practice on children and their learning outcomes.

One of the factors in services where practice was not effective related to the lack of alignment and the inconsistency of practice between educators. This was often because educators were not aware of the positive guidance expectations set out in policy nor did they understand it. Where practices were highly effective, self review contributed to shared understanding and consistency.

This evaluation has highlighted the importance of educators and parents working in partnership to support children’s social competence and understanding of appropriate behaviour, particularly when issues arise or children need additional support. Self review needs to include a focus on the effectiveness of services’ partnership with parents and whānau in supporting children to develop as competent and confident learners.