A'oga Amata Preschool - 11/03/2019

1 Evaluation of A'oga Amata Preschool

How well placed is A'oga Amata Preschool to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

A'oga Amata Preschool requires further development to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Since the 2015 ERO review, the long-standing owner has implemented a new leadership structure which places greater responsibility on the teaching team to carry out governance and management roles and responsibilities. The owner implemented these changes with the intention of growing shared leadership across the team. This restructure has proved unsuccessful. Greater support, training and guidance need to be implemented to assist the owner and teachers as they carry out these new responsibilities. As a result, the next steps from the previous review have not been addressed and additional areas for improved practice have been identified.

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


A'oga Amata Preschool, in South Invercargill, provides a Gagana Samoa (Samoan language) and Aganu'u Samoa (Samoan culture) foundation for learning and wellbeing. This long-established service welcomes children from birth to school age in a family-orientated, semi-rural setting. Most children attending have Māori or Pacific heritage.

The Review Findings

Children and their families continue to enjoy a strong connection to A'oga Amata Preschool, with warm and caring relationships highly evident. Teachers and teacher aides know children's cultures, backgrounds and interests. They work alongside each family to seek their aspirations.

The owner and the teaching team demonstrate strong commitment to the service and to the community. Adults work collaboratively to support children to develop confidence and a sense of belonging. Children show ownership of the centre resources, and engage for sustained periods in their chosen activities. There is a settled, yet busy tone to the centre.

Children follow well-established routines, with an awareness of related cultural protocols and expectations for respectful behaviour. Tuakana/teina relationships are evident with the older children supporting younger peers. The teaching team actively promotes the service's philosophy and values, and affirms children who demonstrate these in their play and interactions.

Children aged under two years are cared for in a designated area of the centre. Since the previous ERO review, the owner has made some changes to the outside space to better accommodate the developmental needs of these younger children. Further review and improvements are necessary inside and outside to enhance the quality of the resources, and create a safer and more responsive environment for children to explore.

Changes to the organisational structure means that staff roles are rotated around the team a number of times each year. This has created instability and uncertainty for the team and for centre operations, impacting on various aspects of the programme. For example, while teachers remain caring and nurturing, there is insufficient time to build meaningful relationships with the youngest children in primary caregiving roles before teachers are rostered into the next area.

At the time of the 2015 ERO review teacher appraisals, self review and planning had been improved. These developments have not been sustained or progressed. Good quality mentoring and professional development are urgently needed to support the owner to improve these aspects of practice.

The owner now needs to strengthen the systems and structures that support governance and management to provide a more strategic and coherent approach to the centre's improvement. This should provide clarity and greater support for teachers. Key goals and valued outcomes for children should be prioritised and worked towards in a more systematic and effective manner.

Key Next Steps

The owner and the teaching team agree that next steps include:

  • improving the physical environment and curriculum for children under two years of age, and providing more individualised care routines for these younger children

  • revisiting the budget to ensure adequate funds are available and are allocated to maintain the quality of resources for children

  • refining aspects of teachers' planning and assessment for consistency and quality

  • providing sufficient targeted training and professional development to assist staff to be successful in their roles, including external support to develop leadership at all levels

  • continuing to develop self review to evaluate and improve the quality of centre practices.

The owner also needs to improve the quality of the appraisal and ensure that all members of the teaching team are appraised.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of A'oga Amata Preschool 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 areas of non-compliance relating to policy review, sleep routines, and excursions. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • develop and review health and safety processes and practices to meet current legal requirements

  • amend the child protection policy and review the personnel policy and processes to reflect current requirements in relation to the Vulnerable Children Act

  • improve excursion processes and planning to more clearly identify and manage risks

  • develop good quality systems to manage centre finances, and address the areas for improvement identified in the centre's current auditor's report

  • keep parents and whānau informed about the centre's use of equity funding and how this is used to improve learning outcomes for children.

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS7-18,31, GMA1-10; Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

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.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

11 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

55 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 22 Girls 17

Ethnic composition

Cook Islands Māori
other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2018

Date of this report

11 March 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2015

Education Review

March 2012

Education Review

July 2008

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.