Active Explorers Mayfair - 04/03/2019

1 Evaluation of Active Explorers Mayfair

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Active Explorers Mayfair is not well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

High turnover of teaching staff and management personnel in 2018 has had a negative impact on the degree of progress able to be made in addressing the concerns identified in the February 2018 ERO report. All issues identified at that time remain of concern.

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


Active Explorers Mayfair is a private early learning service located in Hastings. It is owned by Evolve Education Group Ltd (EEG), which operates early learning services nationally. The centre is licensed to provide education and care for 74 children, including up to 29 aged under two. Of the 61 enrolled, 27 are Māori. Four separate indoor learning spaces and two outdoor areas are designed to cater for the different age groups of children.

Management oversight is provided by regional and area managers who report to the chief operating officer of EEG. Day-to-day management is the responsibility of the centre manager who is supported by team leaders. Of the 12 staff employed, seven are registered teachers, including a number who are long serving.

There has been a very significant turnover of centre staff, and EEG leadership and management personnel since the previous ERO review. At the time of this review, regional, area and centre management positions are not permanently filled. EEG's national management team has a new chief executive and chief operations officer. Management personnel from other EEG services and its national office are supporting the centre and this ERO review.

The 2018 ERO report identified that improvement was required in relation to the quality of teaching, provision for toddlers, cultural responsiveness, support for children’s transitions, planning for learning, understanding and use of internal evaluation, and health and safety practices. The need for better guidance and support from management was also identified. Since then, leaders and teachers have been engaged in a range of professional learning and development (PLD), through a Ministry of Education Strengthening Early Learning Opportunities (SELO) contract and other sources. Any progress made has not been sustained.

The EEG personnel supporting this review had difficulty accessing all of the centre documentation required to meet the Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Services 2008.

The Review Findings

Teachers are kind and caring in their interactions with children. They provide a range of activities to provoke interest and participation in the daily programme. Younger children benefit from consistent staffing which support opportunities for sustained engagement and attachment. Teachers, particularly those working with older children, should continue to develop the quality of their engagement and teaching strategies to better facilitate children's learning and progress.

Management has identified that teachers' response to children with additional learning needs requires development. ERO's evaluation supports this.

Outdoor areas are spacious and attractively maintained. They provide a variety of physical and sensory challenges for children. However, the quality, range and organisation of resources in the indoor play spaces needs further development. Consideration should be given to the provision of more open-ended, creative play materials, arranged to invite children's interest and participation, and increased opportunities for choice and self-selection.

The development of a stronger bicultural perspective in the programme is a priority. EEG's guidelines and expectations are clear but have not been effectively implemented at this centre.

While some progress was made in developing the centre's approach to planning for learning, this has not continued. More work needs to be undertaken to develop a consistent and meaningful process and the team's understanding of the revised early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. Particular attention should be given in assessment of children's learning to:

  • including a bicultural perspective
  • acknowledging children's cultures, languages and identities
  • building on children's emerging interests, ideas and learning dispositions
  • providing opportunities for parents to be partners in planning, and
  • facilitating children's ownership of their learning portfolios.

A more deliberate approach to supporting children's transitions into, through and out of the four learning spaces should be considered to strengthen the coherence of their learning pathways.

SELO support initially provided some direction for improvement for the centre. However, the high staff and management turnover has impacted negatively on team cohesiveness and progress in strengthening practice. While the EEG appraisal process meets Teaching Council requirements, it has not been implemented in this centre. Staff did not benefit from an appraisal or sufficiently focused development opportunities in 2018. Organisation for teaching and learning needs immediate attention and improvement. There have been limited opportunities for staff to have non-contact time and meet as a team to collectively plan their approach to meeting EEG expectations for teaching and learning.

EEG has adopted a framework to support a consistent approach to internal evaluation across the organisation. At this centre staff understanding or this framework and its application in investigating practice to guide improvements requires significant development.

The new management roles and responsibilities resulting from EEG's 2017 restructure have been ineffective in strengthening operation and the quality of teaching and learning at this centre. While urgency is required to fill the now vacant staffing positions in Hawke's Bay, a very considered approach is being taken to ensure suitably experienced personnel are appointed. EEG's national management team has recently developed a strategic plan prioritising action for its centres of concern in the region, including Active Explorers Mayfair. A review has commenced aimed at improving operation, particularly in relation to staff engagement, team communication, quality assurance and accountability. A detailed and workable action plan should then be developed at centre level to provide defined direction for improvement, measures of progress and an element of sustainability for this service. Support for leadership in managing change, and to effectively implement EEG's comprehensive operational guidelines, is also required.

Priorities for Improvement

Evolve Education Group Ltd needs to urgently establish a permanent and stable teaching team and appoint senior leaders who can provide targeted, supportive and ongoing professional guidance to the team in order to meet all legislative requirements. Priorities to improve practice include:

  • the use of intentional teaching strategies to engage children in their play and learning
  • providing open-ended, creative play materials and maximising opportunities for children to make choices in the curriculum
  • building teachers' knowledge of working with children with additional learning needs and effective transitions
  • strengthening the bicultural curriculum and promoting children's cultures, languages and identities
  • improving the quality of assessment, planning and evaluation
  • implementing an appraisal process
  • providing targeted support for leadership to implement EEG's operational guidelines.

Legal Requirements Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Active Explorers Mayfair 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 found significant areas of non-compliance related to health and safety, and governance and management. The service provider must ensure that all licensing requirements are met, particularly in relation to:

  • hazard management

  • excursions

  • administration of medication

  • readiness for emergencies through provision of supplies

  • emergency drills are carried out at least every three months

  • staff appraisal

  • self review

  • annual planning

  • police vetting (could not furnish full list).

[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008: HS12, HS17, HS29, HS7, HS8, GMA7, GMA6, GMA8, GMA7A, and the Education Act 1989, 319D]

In order to improve current practice the service provider should ensure that:

  • compliance with early childhood regulatory requirements is adequately monitored and reported over time

  • impact surfacing and windows meet legislative requirements

  • all staff have the required breaks and child non-contact time each day.

Recommendation to Ministry of Education

ERO recommends that the Ministry reassess the licence of Active Explorers Mayfair. ERO will not undertake a further education review of this service until the Ministry of Education is satisfied that the service meets licensing requirements.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Active Explorers Mayfair will be in consultation with the Ministry of Education.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central Region

4 March 2019

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

74 children, including up to 29 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 31, Boys 30

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


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2019

Date of this report

4 March 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2018

Education Review

July 2014

Education Review

July 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 will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed
  • Well placed
  • Requires further development
  • Not well placed

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.