Active Explorers Lower Hutt - 12/02/2018

1 Evaluation of Active Explorers Lower Hutt

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Active Explorers Lower Hutt has experienced change in management roles over the past two years. The centre manager requires support to guide centre direction and teaching and learning.

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


Active Explorers Lower Hutt is privately owned, purpose built and located in Lower Hutt adjacent to Eastern Hutt School. The service is licensed to provide education and care for 68 children including 20 aged up to two. At the time of this ERO evaluation, there were 71 children on the roll, including 15 Māori.

The centre caters for children and families from a wide range of ethnic groups including a number with English as a second or third language. Separate learning areas provide for the needs of infants, toddlers and young children. Enhancement of the outdoor environment to enrich learning opportunities for children continues to be a focus.

In December 2014, the service was bought by Evolve Education Group (Evolve) from Lollipops Educare Centres limited. Evolve employs a development manager to provide overall curriculum guidance for team leaders and teachers in four centres. A regional, area and centre support manager offers support to the centre director and teaching team. Five teachers have an early childhood qualification and full certification. There are three provisionally certificated teachers.

The August 2012 ERO report identified areas requiring further consideration. These included: strengthening assessment, planning and evaluation; creating a share philosophy for teaching and learning; and growing a culture of systematic, evidence-based review to support implementation of a shared vision. Progress has been limited and some processes have lapsed.

This review was part of a cluster of five reviews in the Evolve Education Group. 

The Review Findings

Teachers work collaboratively to provide a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for children and families. Staff work positively towards ensuring practices are responsive to family needs and circumstances. Teachers acknowledge that following the recent rebranding of the centre, it is timely to review the philosophy to reflect collective values and beliefs and identify curriculum priorities for children.

Children’s language development and sustained attention are encouraged within child-initiated and adult‑initiated activities. Teachers generally support learners to follow their interests. Staff should consider further ways to ensure that the programme provided always invites young children and toddlers to explore and become fully involved in a wide variety of activities.

Programme provision for infants focuses on nurturing their wellbeing through responsive
care giving. Play is viewed as an occasion for learning and providing opportunities for very young learners to become active communicators and explorers.

Narratives and photographs record children's engagement in the programme. Observations of their participation in group experiences are reflected in visual displays within the centre. The collection and sharing of assessment information with families through e-portfolios is a developing aspect of planning for children. This approach has the potential to extend children’s learning and further encourage parent contributions and communication. Teachers should seek support to strengthen their use of this tool to illustrate continuity in learning and show children's progress.

Children’s sense of belonging and wellbeing is effectively supported during and after transitions into the centre. Evaluation of "inquiry time" for older four year old children is required. Teachers need to ensure this programme is always relevant and responsive to learner's interests. Integrating increased early childhood approaches into the more structured times should improve children's learning.

Daily routines and programmes successfully reflect the centre’s bicultural and multicultural community. Waiata and some basic te reo Māori are heard throughout the daily programme. Teachers continue to consider ways to further their understanding about teaching that reflects and responds to Māori and Pacific learners.

Professional leadership requires strengthening. A new appraisal system introduced by Evolve has not been introduced for all teachers. Staff appraisal and attestation of teachers' practising certificates do not meet expected requirements. The centre manager requires support to guide teachers in developing deliberate strategies for working towards appraisal goals and making clear links to relevant professional learning and development. Supporting staff to strengthen their knowledge of high quality practice is a key next step.

Internal evaluation is not well developed. Teachers need support to develop increased understanding of formal, in-depth internal evaluation to improve decision‑making. A recent restructure within Evolve has led to the introduction of new management roles that aim to provide increased support for centre staff. Evolve managers should strengthen systems to provide ongoing guidance and support to centre leaders and teachers for continuous improvement of teaching and learning.

Key Next Steps

ERO, managers and team leaders agree that the following areas need further development:

  • internal evaluation, to improve decision making
  • assessment and planning, to better inform curriculum priorities for teaching and learning
  • systems and processes that build leaders’ and teachers’ capabilities
  • vision and philosophy to align with the rebranding of the service.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Active Explorers Lower Hutt 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified an area of non-compliance relating to self review and appraisal. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following area:

  • ensuring that the service is effectively governed and managed in accordance with good management practices, including review practices and appraisal of all staff.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA6, GMA7]

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report. 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Active Explorers Lower Hutt will be within two years.

Alan Wynyard
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

12 February 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 


Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

68 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 42, Girls 29

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


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

November 2017

Date of this report

12 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 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.