Ako Early Childhood Centre - 09/02/2015

1. Evaluation of Ako Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Ako Early Childhood 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.


Ako Early Childhood Centre is in the suburb of Corstorphine and is one of five centres under the Dunedin Community Childcare Association (DCCA). The centre provides full-day education and care for up to 32 children aged from birth to school age. Most days around 25 children from diverse family backgrounds attend.

There are high levels level of family and community involvement and contributions to the life of the centre. The philosophy says that teachers will provide a place where children can learn their strengths and abilities, be confident and develop positive friendships.

Following the October 2011 ERO review, teachers developed an action plan to address the recommendations made. With the support of the DCCA, they have worked systematically to address these. The outdoor area has also been developed. This area is now inviting for children to explore, has places to be alone and encourages children to develop their physical skills.

This review was part of a cluster of five reviews in the DCCA.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from respectful relationships with their teachers. They have fun with their teachers and with each other. Teachers value children’s diverse backgrounds and what they bring to the centre as learners. They have developed strong partnerships with whānau that are based on acceptance and willingness to listen.

The centre philosophy has been recently reviewed. It is strongly evident in the way children are supported to:

  • know their abilities and strengths
  • be independent and confident in their learning
  • develop skills for positive friendships.

Infants and toddlers are well supported in the mixed-age setting. There are flexible and unhurried routines to meet each child’s requirements. A 'key teacher' plans appropriate daily experiences for them to enjoy. The teachers have identified that a next step is to reflect on the special programme requirements for this age group.

Children have many opportunities to hear their teachers use te reo Māori in everyday conversations. Māori perspectives are strongly evident in the environment and in the approaches to learning. For example, in the concept of Ako where adults and children learn together. To build on this good practice, teachers agreed they should continue to deepen their learning about Māori perspectives, te reo and tikanga Māori.

The way teachers include children with diverse learning needs is a strength. They show flexibility in the way they work with parents and regularly seek parents’ wishes for their children’s learning.

The programme is based on responding to each child's strengths and interests, and reflects local community happenings. Children’s learning is enriched by the strengths and interests of their teachers. For example, a teacher has a passion for developing children’s physical skills through outdoor play. 

Other strengths of the programme that support children’s learning include:

  • well-managed transitions into the centre and to school
  • integrating early literacy and mathematics concepts through play
  • the wide range of experiences within the centre and in the community.

Since the October 2011 ERO review teachers have improved their systems and processes for planning for individuals and groups of children. The teachers identified that planning would be strengthened by more clearly identifying children’s next learning steps and for evaluations to show progress over time. Teachers should also more deliberately plan for and assess children’s mathematics learning and evaluate the impact of their teaching. Group planning could also include teachers’ priorities for children in the centre, such as, mathematics learning.

The head teacher has developed useful systems for ensuring the smooth running of the centre.

She is collaborative and fosters shared leadership within the team. As a team teachers regularly discuss what is going well and what they can improve. They are implementing a useful process of self review to make changes and improvements. Self review would be strengthened by developing a clearer review focus and indicators to guide the reviews. The outcomes of reviews should be reported to the DCCA board and to centre whānau.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for teachers are to strengthen:

  • planning assessment and evaluation for individuals and groups of children
  • self review.

Governance and Management of the DCCA

The DCCA is governed by an executive committee and managed by a newly appointed director. The experienced and supportive executive:

  • has a strong commitment to teaching and learning
  • has developed policies to guide practices within the centres
  • seeks the views of parents and staff
  • is more purposefully appraising its teaching staff, in particular against the registered teacher criteria.

Head teachers appreciate the regular group meetings they have with the director. 

Since the 2011 ERO review the association has developed a useful framework for self review. The association management needs to ensure its practices and those of the centres are following the guidelines. Better implementation of the guidelines should lead to more effective identification of what is going well and what needs further development. Findings from self review should be an integral part of planning.

The executive committee has developed four aspirational strategic goals. The associated annual plan could be improved by setting out how each goal is to be specifically achieved. The association recognises the need for each centre to develop annual plans that align with the association’s priorities. More detailed plans would provide a useful basis for head teachers and the director to write their reports against and for the executive committee to monitor progress against.

The board needs to clarify the roles of the association management and leadership, including the director's responsibilities. This should help the achievement of the strategic plan. 

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Ako Early Childhood 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.

To improve current practice the early childhood leaders should:

  • develop written procedures to guide the results of police vetting and the management of related risks
  • improve its practices for the assessment and management of risk for all excursions.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Ako Early Childhood Centre will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

9 February 2015

2. Information about the Early Childhood Service


Corstorphine, Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

32 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 18

Girls: 11

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





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

October 2014

Date of this report

9 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

These are available at www.ero.govt.nz

Education Review

November 2011


Education Review

October 2008


Education Review

April 2005

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.