ABC Hokowhitu - 20/03/2018

1 Evaluation of ABC Hokowhitu

How well placed is ABC Hokowhitu 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.


ABC Hokowhitu is an all-day education and care centre located in Palmerston North city and is owned by BestStart Educare Ltd (BestStart). In April 2017 the centre licence increased to 59 children, including 20 up to two years of age. Of the 79 children enrolled, nine children identify as Māori and three children are of Pacific heritage.

Since the August 2014 ERO report, the service has developed an overarching centre philosophy with each room having their own practice statements. The service's vision “strong relationships builds lifelong learners” underpins the philosophy.

BestStart provides overall strategic direction and systems to guide centre operation. A professional services manager and business manager regularly liaise with teaching staff. The current centre manager is supported by three head teachers. A new centre manager has recently been appointed from within the teaching team and will take up the position in March 2018. At the time of the review, the centre manager also managed another ABC centre that is in close proximity. BestStart has plans in place to disestablish this shared centre manager position in favour of a centre manager appointed to each centre. 

The service consists of two separate buildings. One building caters separately for older children aged two to three and a half, and for those over three and a half. The other caters for infants and toddlers aged up to two years. Extensive renovations have occurred in response to the increase in the licence numbers for children under two years.

Areas for development identified in the previous ERO report included: reflecting Māori learners' cultural identity in the curriculum; inquiring into the effectiveness of literacy and numeracy learning; and enhancing assessment. These have been progressed.

This review was one of three owned by BestStart Educare Limited. 

The Review Findings

Children confidently engage in a play-based curriculum that promotes the service's vision and philosophy. Emphasis is placed by teachers on establishing strong relationships with whānau and children, and the development of a sense of trust and belonging.

Teachers are responsive to children's interests and use a range of strategies to engage children in sustained play. The environment reflects the cultural diversity of the centre. An extensive range of mathematical and literacy-based experiences and resources centre-wide, supports children’s active exploration individually and with others. Children benefit from a mixture of teacher-led and
child-led experiences. 

Younger children are well supported as competent learners. Teachers are attuned to their rhythms and nuances, and the environment is well-resourced and stimulating. Emphasis is placed on the provision of creative and sensory experiences that children can engage with in a calm, unhurried way. The extension and redevelopment of the environment has supported these children’s active exploration.

Children with additional learning needs are well supported. Leaders and teachers seek support from external agencies. They work collaboratively to implement individual education plans. To further improve practice, explicit links should be made to show how children make progress towards intended learning outcomes. 

Children access resources and experiences that depict aspects of te ao Māori. Some teachers use te reo Māori in authentic ways. Leaders and teachers continue to develop their understanding of educational success for Māori children. A focus on building understandings of local Māori contexts and strengthening culturally responsive learning partnerships with whānau Māori, is ongoing and a planned next step.

Useful strategies to support Pacific children and their families are evident. Teachers are responsive to families' aspirations for their children. 

Teachers and BestStart have identified that assessment planning and evaluation processes require further strengthening. These improvements should include consideration of:

  • responsiveness to children’s culture language and identity
  • purposeful, individualised planning that focuses on teacher responses to build children's identities as successful learners
  • parent aspirations to inform strategies, planning and assessment
  • monitoring children's progress over time.

Well-considered processes promote children’s wellbeing when transitioning into the centre and between age groups. The transition to school process fosters children’s familiarity with the schools they will be attending. Continuing to strengthen relationships with schools is an ongoing focus. 

The service is in the early stages of understanding the process of internal evaluation to bring about sustained teacher change that promotes successful learning outcomes for all children. BestStart has identified further support is required to improve leaders' and teachers' understanding and implementation of internal evaluation. Future evaluations should focus on monitoring and evaluating the impact of practices on outcomes for children.

A new framework guides the BestStart appraisal process. Teachers have opportunities to participate in professional development and learning. They engage in robust discussions, focused on improving outcomes for children. Further work is required by management to support the service's understanding of effective teaching as an inquiry. Growing the capabilities of centre managers to embed this new system is a priority. 

BestStart policies, guiding documents and monitoring systems promote consistent practices. Governance is committed to growing leaders within the organisation. To improve practice, management should consider more targeted support to empower individual centres to further improve learning outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

Leaders, teachers and ERO agree that the key next steps are to continue to strengthen:

  • assessment and planning practices, with a focus on individual planning
  • practices that promote educational success for Māori and Pacific children
  • teachers' understanding of effective internal evaluation and inquiry
  • implementation of the appraisal process.

BestStart Educare should support staff to give priority to these key next steps and to embed new learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of ABC Hokowhitu 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 ABC Hokowhitu will be in three years.

Alan Wynyard
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

20 March 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 


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

59 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

45 Girls, 34 Boys

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2018

Date of this report

20 March 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 2014

Education Review

March 2011

Education Review

January 2008

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.