Arrowtown Preschool Cotter Ave - 10/06/2015

1 Evaluation of Arrowtown Preschool Cotter Ave

How well placed is Arrowtown Preschool Cotter Ave 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.


Arrowtown Preschool in Cotter Avenue is a high performing centre. It is one of two preschools owned and governed by a non-profit trust. A professional leader/manager oversees both centres. Each centre has a head teacher. The head teacher and teachers at Cotter Avenue are fully qualified and have worked at the centre for some time.

Recently the organisation of the two centres has changed to better meet children’s and parents’ needs. Children from two-to-four years old attend Cotter Avenue. They then transition to the Durham Street centre. The change has brought about greater efficiency and is working very well from the perspectives of staff and parents.

The Cotter Avenue programme is influenced by aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. The centre’s learning priorities are to develop children’s sense of belonging and independence, and to foster respectful relationships, exploration, collaboration and risk taking. Nature-based learning is also seen as very important. These priorities are very evident in what happens day-to-day.

Parents are very supportive of the centre and involved in various ways. The centre supports and is supported by the local community. It has a close relationship with the neighbouring school.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the outdoor area has been extensively redeveloped to better engage and challenge children. Leaders and teachers have successfully addressed the recommendations in the ERO report. This has resulted in a shared leadership, improved self review and an increased valuing of Māori language and culture.

The Review Findings

Teachers know each child very well. There are very caring and nurturing relationships between adults in the centre and children and amongst the children. As a result the children show a strong sense of belonging. They confidently approach adults, move between different areas in the centre and access equipment they want. They engage in sustained and independent play.

Children experience success and enjoyment in their play and learning. Their teachers ensure they have the skills, confidence and resources to manage and lead this. They encourage children to ‘have a go’ and provide support when necessary. The teachers value the children’s different cultural backgrounds.

Teachers think carefully about the teaching strategies they use to support children’s learning. They intentionally foster the centre’s identified learning priorities. These include children taking risks, learning to be independent, and learning how to work and play in respectful ways. These priorities and the focus on the natural world are strongly evident in children’s day-to-day learning.

Children have frequent opportunities to hear or see te reo Māori and learn about aspects of Māori culture. Teachers use innovative ways to enthuse children about this, such as storytelling, dramatic play and Māori art forms. The centre’s resources and displays strongly reflect Māori culture. Core values, such as whanaungatanga (the importance of relationships) are very evident in interactions.

The children learn and play in a very well-resourced and attractive environment. Resources, areas of interest and activities are set out in ways that encourage independence, exploration and risk taking in ways consistent with the centre’s learning priorities. Inside and outside areas and resources are set out so that there is a good balance of busy and quiet areas.

Due care is taken to help children settle into the centre. Each child is carefully supported in their transition to the Durham Street centre. Before shifting they regularly visit and get to know their new teachers, friends, the centre and its resources. Teachers keep parents well informed and involved.

Teachers skilfully assess and plan for individuals and groups of children. They often consult with parents about their children’s learning. Learning stories show that children make good progress towards their learning goals. Well-presented visual displays enable children and parents to revisit previous learning.

Other strengths of this centre are:

  • the way teachers follow children’s interests and use these as a ’vehicle’ for learning
  • the strong science and art focus, where there is intentional building of children’s knowledge and skills
  • the many opportunities for early literacy and mathematical learning.

The manager provides high quality professional leadership. She and the head teacher value the skills, strengths and interests of staff. There is a strong culture of reflection and ongoing improvement. This has been strengthened by more rigorous review of teaching and learning and centre operations.

Leaders and teachers understand the importance of self review and use this well to make on-going improvements. For example, the recent review of how the two centres operate has resulted in improved efficiency, teacher development and consistency in teaching practices. Parents and teachers note how these developments have had a very positive impact on children’s learning.

Trust-board governors and centre leaders are focused on what is best for children and their families. Teachers appreciate the rigorous and improvement-focused appraisal process. The manager and board regularly gather and respond to parents’ views about centre practices and children’s well being and learning.

There are very sound governance and management systems and practices. This includes useful guidelines and clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The board is well informed about the two centres’ operations. It has overseen a comprehensive review of policies and procedures so that these better align with the 2008 Early Childhood Regulations.

Over the last four years, useful strategic and annual plans have driven significant property, programme and organisational improvements.

Key Next Steps

  • to update the governance manual and complete the review of governance policies and procedures
  • to report more formally on the implementation of annual and strategic plans
  • for teachers to better evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies they use to extend and deepen children’s learning and to achieve intended learning goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Arrowtown Preschool Cotter Ave completed an ERO Centre Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they select ‘have’ or ‘have not’ 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Arrowtown Preschool Cotter Ave will be in four years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

10 June 2015

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

30 children, including up to 4 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 21

Boys 24

Ethnic composition



Other ethnicities




Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

N/A at time of review


Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

April 2015

Date of this report

10 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 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.