BestStart Opihi - 11/06/2020

1 Evaluation of BestStart Opihi

How well placed is BestStart Opihi to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

BestStart Opihi is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


BestStart Opihi (previously First Steps Opihi) operates under the BestStart management structure. BestStart is a large organisation which owns early childhood education services across New Zealand.

BestStart Opihi is located in Temuka and provides education and care for up to 50 children, including a maximum of 14 under two years old. There is a nursery room for infants and toddlers and a preschool room for older children. Each room has its own outdoor area.

There have been significant changes in staff since the May 2017 ERO review. The professional services manager was appointed in 2018 and the centre manager and most of the teachers in 2019. Most of the teachers are fully registered or provisionally registered teachers.

The service's philosophy emphasises valuing and nurturing children, helping them build respectful relationships and becoming confident and competent learners. Māori language and culture, and children's home cultures, are valued. Parents are recognised as integral to their child's learning and wellbeing.

Since the recent appointments of a new centre manager and staff, progress has been made to address the next steps in the 2017 ERO report. Parents have more opportunities to be involved in their child's learning and the decisions for the centre. New systems for assessment, planning and evaluation have been put in place. Bicultural practices are improving. The strategic plan provides clear direction for the centre. Internal evaluation remains a key next step.

The Review Findings

The managers and staff are implementing new systems and practices to improve the quality of learning and teaching and outcomes for children.

The recently completed philosophy statement was developed in consultation with teachers and whānau. It clearly identifies the valued outcomes for children and their learning. The ideals within the philosophy are beginning to be linked to the strategic plan goals, children's learning and teacher’s planning. A useful foundation is in place to help managers and teachers achieve the centre objectives for children's learning and wellbeing.

The managers place emphasis on a collaborative team culture that values all staff and builds professional capability and wellbeing. Professional learning and development are closely linked to centre priorities and valued outcomes to improve teaching practice. Developments are most evident in the support the teachers provide for diverse learners, and children's oral language and communication skill development. Assessment and planning are also improving, as a result of manager support and ongoing professional development. Managers now need to provide teachers in the preschool with more guidance to sustain their engagement with children and learning throughout the session.

Assessment, planning and evaluation procedures are becoming more widely understood and used by teachers to guide learning and teaching. Learning plans incorporate the children's goals and processes are documented. Teachers know individual children's interests, strengths and needs. Intentional teaching approaches are beginning to promote children's progress and development. Managers and teachers now need to embed these new approaches and improve consistency. Assessment, planning and evaluation also needs to be more clearly documented in children's portfolio books to identify the outcomes and the effectiveness of learning and teaching for children, parents and whānau.

Children aged under two years benefit from familiar teachers. The environment is nurturing, and teachers are respectful of home routines and children's individual preferences.

Children have many opportunities to make choices and follow their interests in play. The environment includes natural resources, reflects the local farming community and promotes physical activity. Regular curriculum area reviews are helping to ensure the resources extend children's interests and support imaginative group play.

The meaningful inclusion of te reo and tikanga Māori is increasing. Wall displays and centre documents reflect New Zealand's bicultural heritage. Te reo Māori is more evident in the programme. Teachers need to continue to increase their knowledge and confidence in relation to Māori and Pacific languages and cultures to help Māori and Pacific children experience success and pride in their cultural heritages.

Managers and teachers keep parents well informed and involve them in decision making. They have recently increased the range of strategies they use to help parents be involved in decisions about their child’s learning. Continuing to embed these initiatives should result in stronger learning partnerships between children, whānau and teachers.

Internal evaluation is at an early stage of implementation and understanding. Some evaluations have not resulted in improvements in outcomes for children or teaching and learning. Managers and teachers need to develop an in depth understanding of internal evaluation and establish robust processes to continue to improve the quality of the service, children's learning and wellbeing.

BestStart has a well-established management structure. Policies and procedures provide clear guidance to centre managers for the operation of the centre and maintaining health and safety for children, staff and parents.

Key Next Steps

BestStart managers and ERO agree that the key next steps for BestStart Opihi include:

  • developing in-depth knowledge and use of robust evaluation processes to ensure improvement requirements in centre practices are identified, actioned, evaluated and sustained
  • reviewing the effectiveness of the afternoon preschool programme in engaging children in meaningful learning
  • embedding new planning practices to ensure consistency across teachers and ensuring that high quality assessment, planning and evaluation is made visible in the portfolios for children, parents and whānau
  • continuing to develop all teachers’ understandings of Tātaiako and Tapasā, and collaborative understandings to support Māori and Pacific learners.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of BestStart Opihi 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.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)

Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

11 June 2020

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

50 children, including up to 14 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 32, Boys 28

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


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

February 2020

Date of this report

11 June 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2017

Education Review

February 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

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.