BestStart Palmerston North 1 - 26/06/2020

1 Evaluation of BestStart Palmerston North 1

How well placed is BestStart Palmerston North 1 to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

BestStart Palmerston North 1 is very well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


BestStart Palmerston North 1, previously known as First Steps Ngata Street, is an early childhood care and education service located in central Palmerston North. It is licenced for 122 children, including 25 aged up to two years. The current roll of 138, includes 15 Māori children.

BestStart Palmerston North 1, previously known as First Steps Palmerston North Ngata Street and BestStart Palmerston North 2 operate from one adjoining complex. Six separate learning spaces provide for the different age group needs of infants, toddlers and young children.

The service operates under the umbrella of the national early childhood organisation, BestStart Educare. Two managers are responsible for the curriculum delivery and the day-to-day operation across both services. Currently, an experienced manager is responsible for both roles until a new operations manager is appointed. A business manager and professional services manager provide support to the service.

The BestStart vision encompasses working in partnerships with families, whānau and communities to enable children to achieve their learning potential. The service philosophy is underpinned by the whakataukī, 'He waka eke noa' to provide a sense of unity and family across the whole complex.

Since the June 2016 ERO report, staffing has remained stable with high numbers of registered teachers. The service has been involved in teaching and learning research projects with external providers. Significant progress has been made to action the key next steps identified in the previous report.

The Review Findings

A clear vision sets the direction for the service. Parents, whānau and children are welcomed and valued. The localised curriculum is well developed and reflects the service's identified priorities for children's learning. This is underpinned by strong, reciprocal relationships that are responsive to its learning community. The philosophy is highly evident in practice.

Thoughtfully designed and inviting physical spaces promote children's exploration and curiosity within calm, settled environments. Children engage with a wide range of resources that are responsive to their interests, strengths and capabilities. Teachers interact positively with these young learners to extend their thinking, working theories and communications skills.

Children have numerous opportunities to explore te ao Māori concepts across the curriculum. The attributes of ngā Atua are used in meaningful ways to foster children's developing social and emotional skills. Through the service's internal evaluation process, teachers have identified that the inclusion of local iwi place-based knowledge and use of te reo Māori is a next step to further enrich children's learning experiences. ERO's external evaluation affirms this direction.

Well considered and successful transition processes in to and throughout the service promote children's sense of security and wellbeing. Mihi whakatau and poroporoaki rituals foster connections between children, whānau and teachers. Leaders have identified that strengthening the transition process with local schools is a next step.

Māori children's whakapapa is acknowledged as integral to the development of a sense of self, belonging and connectedness. Leaders and teachers work in partnerships with whānau Māori to promote their children's success as Māori.

Since the previous ERO review, the service has strengthened its understanding and knowledge of their Pacific children's heritages. Teachers and educators work alongside families to maintain and enhance children’s connections to their cultural identity, and this is reflected within the environment.

Children with diverse learning needs are well supported to achieve within an inclusive learning environment. The service works closely with external agencies and whānau to provide ongoing support.

Infants and toddlers benefit from consistent and nurturing relationships that respond to their needs, rhythms and interests. They are well supported to make choices within the curriculum and form secure attachments with familiar adults.

A robust assessment, planning and evaluation process is consistently implemented across the service. Teachers and educators use a range of assessment tools to understand the individual learning needs of children. They work alongside parents to provide meaningful experiences that are responsive to their children's interests, needs and cultural contexts. Appropriate teaching strategies are implemented to progress individual learning overtime.

Collaborative leadership and a highly effective professional learning culture supports adults to promote positive outcomes for children. Mentors provide appropriate support to all teachers and caregivers. Leaders and teachers identify what is working well, what more needs to be done and adapt practice to improve equitable learning outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

Leaders and teachers should continue to use the effective internal practices in place to plan for ongoing improvement. ERO is confident that the service has the capability to use evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building to sustain and continue to improve on good practice.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of BestStart Palmerston North 1 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.

Darcy Te Hau (Acting)

Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

26 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


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

122 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Female 77, Male 61

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
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


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2020

Date of this report

26 June 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2016

Education Review

June 2013

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.