Alphabet Academy Cloverlea - 08/04/2016

1 Evaluation of Alphabet Academy Cloverlea

How well placed is Alphabet Academy Cloverlea to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

With further support for developing management and leadership, Alphabet Academy Cloverlea should be well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Alphabet Academy Cloverlea is one of three education and care services under the Vision Community Trust umbrella. These services are governed by a trust board. Day-to-day management of the centres is the responsibility of the supervisor of Alphabet Academy Central.

Up to 50 children, and 15 can be up to two years of age, are able to attend the purpose-built centre at any one time. The roll includes Māori, Samoan, Asian and Pākehā learners.

Since the March 2014 ERO report, most of the staff, including the centre's supervisor, are new to the centre. There have been positive developments to the outdoor learning space.

The centre philosophy is strongly underpinned by Christian values, reflecting children's individuality and respecting their God-given talents. It promotes partnership with parents and families.

Since the previous ERO review, staff have been involved in external professional learning and development to assist them to develop self-review processes and better promote literacy and mathematics learning.

Some progress has been made in response to the previous ERO report. Improvement continues to be needed in self review, assessment practices, promoting educational success for Māori learners and governance processes. These feature as key next steps in this report.

This review was part of a cluster of three reviews in the Alphabet Academy Centres. 

The Review Findings

Infants and toddlers experience nurturing interactions. Teachers are responsive and follow babies' interests well. Staff suitably foster infants and toddlers language development.

Self-help skills are promoted. There are a range of appropriate resources that encourage active play and provide physical challenges. Mathematics and literacy are successfully integrated into the programme.

Children have good opportunities to hear te reo Māori. Staff express a commitment to growing their understanding and further promoting bicultural practices. It is timely to consult with whānau Māori and access support from local experts in the community to assist with this development.

Transition-to-school processes require development. Staff have plans to connect with local schools to assist with the transition. Teachers value and seek the contributions of families. They share information with them in a variety of ways. Teachers work in collaboration with families and external agencies to support the needs of children with special needs.

Recent developments to programme planning processes should help make visible to parents their children's interests at the centre and how adults extend these. Aspects of assessment need strengthening.

The strategic plan requires improvement. Consideration should be given to developing a plan that identifies priorities for teaching and learning and associated goals to strengthen centre practices and operation. This should then assist the manager in monitoring and sharing progress against the goals as part of monthly reporting.

It is timely to clarify and develop shared understanding of roles and responsibilities in governance, management and leadership. 

Processes to assist staff to improve their teaching and ensure shared expectations for high quality education and care require improvement. This includes appraisal processes, annual planning and interactions that encourage and extend children's thinking.  The manager needs further support to lead these developments and effectively meet the responsibilities of management and leadership.

Staff have been supported externally to build their understanding and use of internal evaluation practices. A sound framework is now in place to guide these inquiries. The process continues to require development to more clearly show the impact of teachers’ practices on children’s learning and inform decision making. 

Key Next Steps

The centre has yet to fully address all areas for development identified in the previous ERO report. Staff need to improve and develop their understanding and practices in:

  • internal evaluation to more clearly show the impact of teachers’ practices and learning on children’s outcomes
  • assessment, including how well teachers notice and effectively extend individual children's learning
  • fostering opportunities for Māori children to experience educational success and extending bicultural practices.

Processes for developing and growing the practice of teachers, leaders, the manager and trustees need to be improved. This should include improvements to the quality, consistency and monitoring of:

  • governance and management processes
  • annual and strategic planning to better inform centre priorities for teaching and learning
  • high quality teaching practices
  • appraisal processes.

Alphabet Academy managers will develop an action plan that shows how they will address the key next steps and actions for compliance across this cluster of services.  ERO will monitor progress in relation to the action plan.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Alphabet Academy Cloverlea 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.

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to governance and management. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • ensure that the service is effectively governed and managed in accordance with good management practices, including review practices, appraisal, annual planning and police vetting.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, Governance, Management and Administration]

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Alphabet Academy Cloverlea will be in three years.   

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

8 April 2016 

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

50 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 24, Boys 11

Ethnic composition

Pacific Island
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


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

8 April 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2014



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.