A Step Ahead Early Learning Centre - 16/07/2015

1 Evaluation of A Step Ahead Early Learning Centre

How well placed is A Step Ahead 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.


A Step Ahead Early Learning Centre in Blockhouse Bay is a family-owned service that provides sessional and full day education and care for children from the surrounding suburbs. Children over two years of age are able to attend the centre, which is licensed for twenty children. Children and their families represent a number of cultural groups. Teachers share some of the same cultures and are able to speak in children’s home languages.

The teachers’ philosophy for the centre includes commitment to reflecting Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and a focus on biculturalism in the programmes for children.

This is the second review of the centre. The 2012 ERO report commented favourably on the caring and respectful relationships teachers had with children. Calm interactions and a well planned play environment contributed to children’s easy settling into the centre and their comfort and confidence.

ERO identified that teachers were becoming more confident with assessment and planning systems. The report suggested that a deeper self review focus should provide teachers with information about the impact of programmes on children’s learning. The report also prompted teachers to provide more opportunities for children to extend their play in uninterrupted ways, and to include a stronger focus on biculturalism.

The Review Findings

Children play together harmoniously. They benefit from the assured, collaborative teamwork of the teachers. The carefully prepared and attractive environment is well-resourced with good quality natural furnishings and resources. This encourages children’s engagement and provides prompts for them to develop their play. Teachers’ friendly and sensitive interactions with children support them to settle quickly and become involved in play.

Parents who spoke to ERO appreciate the welcoming partnerships teachers have established with them. Teachers’ inclusive and warm interactions with children were also identified as strengths. Parents feel well informed about their children’s progress and enjoy the portfolios that describe the learning programme. Teachers could now consider how they might more clearly record children’s individual progress over time. They could also link assessment and programme planning in a more transparent way.

Teachers work closely with children, listening to them and encouraging conversations with them. They use their knowledge of individual children’s interests and dispositions to guide programme planning. It would be appropriate for the supervisor to continue to provide leadership and modelling to further strengthen the growing professionalism in the teaching team.

Teachers’ self review follows an established pattern. The streamlining of this aspect of good practice is as a result of learning gained through professional development. Self review is now more clearly focused on exploring and making decisions about the learning programme. Teachers should continue with these good practices in order to guide the development of their teaching. Review should then help their understanding about the effects of their work on children’s learning.

Teachers have identified a need to further develop bicultural practices in their work with children. They already support each other to use words and phrases in te reo Māori in the programme. It would be useful for teachers to continue to build their understanding of te ao Māori as part of their professional growth. Teachers could also reflect a more obvious focus on other cultural groups in the environment. Children are beginning to understand some words in the home languages of their friends in the centre.

Management of the centre is well ordered and efficient. A framework of effective policies and procedures is in place and these are reviewed regularly. The managers could now consider ways of aligning their strategic and annual planning as a guide for the streamlining of operational management.

The owners and the supervisor are committed to establishing a shared vision of high quality early childhood education and care. The centre philosophy is clearly evident in centre practices.

Key Next Steps

ERO identified and centre managers agree that their next steps are to continue to:

  • strengthen bicultural practices and understanding for teachers, children and families
  • use self review to strengthen and deepen consideration of the effectiveness of systems and practices within the centre
  • focus on increasing opportunities to engage children in conversation as a way of strengthening their understanding and use of language.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Dianne Moffitt

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

16 July 2015

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


Blockhouse Bay, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

20 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 15 Girls 11

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

NZ European/Māori/Cook Island

NZ European/Samoan






















Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

16 July 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2012

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.