Active Explorers Leeston - 13/06/2018

1 Evaluation of Active Explorers Leeston

How well placed is Active Explorers Leeston to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

This centre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Active Explorers Leeston is a privately-owned centre licensed to provide all-day care for 66 children, including up to 12 children under two years. The umbrella organisation (Evolve) provides governance and supervisory support for the centre manager, leaders and teachers. Two head teachers provide induction and mentoring support for staff. Most of the staff are fully qualified.

Children are accommodated in three separate indoor learning areas. The under two-year-olds have a separate play area from other children.

The philosophy is currently under review. The Reggio Emilia approach of learning through play and respectful, nurturing relationships is evident in practice.

Since the 2014 ERO review there have been a number of changes in the centre, including:

  • the appointment of several new staff and a new centre manager
  • new owners
  • the development of an area for under-twos
  • reconfiguration of the outdoor area for two-year-olds and above.

The centre is part of a diverse community and children come from a range of ethnic backgrounds.

The Review Findings

There are supportive governance processes and practices in place for centre leaders and teachers. An area manager from the umbrella organisation visits regularly to provide guidance, mentoring, professional development and quality assurance support. This support also includes monitoring of health and safety processes and practices, and risk management.

The centre manager provides thoughtful and intelligent direction for head teachers and other staff. She is committed to building a capable and cohesive teaching team which is well positioned to respond to the learning and wellbeing of all children who attend the centre. All children, including those with identified needs, are nurtured and well supported in learning. There is a strong focus on maintaining professional connections with a local childcare centre and with local schools.

Teachers understand children as unique learners in the context of family, whānau and the wider community. Transitions into and within the centre are individualised and well managed. Teachers encourage children to be confident and curious learners who show respect for each other. They foster these attributes by:

  • actively encouraging curiosity and providing multiple opportunities for exploration
  • providing a calm and nurturing learning environment
  • modelling respectful behaviours between teachers, for children, and with parents
  • recognising the importance of whānau and family involvement in supporting learning and development
  • effectively sharing children's learning through timely communication with families.

The outdoor area is spacious and well resourced. The environment for children under two allows for good supervision and accessibility to resources. Play equipment for older children is thoughtfully positioned to provide interest and challenge, and includes the use of natural materials, in keeping with the Reggio Emilia inspired approach to learning and play.

Key Next Steps

Internal evaluation is an area for further development. Centre management has identified, and ERO agrees, that knowledge of effective evaluative practice and the critical thinking that underpins effective evaluation needs to be extended. Strengthening internal evaluation practices will assist the new leadership and teaching team to identify which systems and practices are sustainable and most effective in supporting children and their whānau at this centre.

The centre has recently adopted a new appraisal system and is being supported to implement this system by a visiting supervisor from the umbrella organisation. The appraisal process needs to be embedded in practice and evaluated for its usefulness. The quality and consistency of teacher reflections contributing to appraisals needs to be improved. This will provide further assurance for leadership about the quality and consistency of teaching practice, as well as identifying emerging themes for professional development.

Assessment, planning and evaluation need to be strengthened. In particular:

  • the quality of learning stories including the use of children's voice, requires improvement in terms of consistency between teachers
  • planning needs to explicitly state how children's learning will be extended
  • the impact and effectiveness of teaching strategies needs to be identified in order to know which practices are most effective in supporting children
  • progress over time, in relation to identified goals, needs to be analysed
  • cultural identity and perspectives for Māori and Pacific heritage children need to be incorporated meaningfully into planning and learning stories.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Active Explorers Leeston 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 Active Explorers Leeston will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

13 June 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

66 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 45 : Girls 41

Ethnic composition

Other ethnicities


Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

13 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

July 2014

Education Review

April 2011

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.