BestStart Palmerston North 2 - 29/06/2020

1 Evaluation of BestStart Palmerston North 2

How well placed is BestStart Palmerston North 2 to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

BestStart Palmerston North 2 is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


BestStart Palmerston North 2, previously known as First Steps Palmerston North Carroll Street, is an early childhood care and education service located in central Palmerston North. It is licenced for 89 children, including 55 aged up to two years old. The current roll of 102, 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 curriculum delivery and 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.

In 2017, BestStart Palmerston North began to deliver the SPACE programme. SPACE is an infant programme designed to foster strong connections between parents and their babies. The programme is informed by Te Whāriki. Certified teachers and experienced caregivers from BestStart Palmerston North 1 are trained as SPACE facilitators to deliver daily group sessions.

Since the June 2016 ERO report, staffing has remained stable with high numbers of registered teachers employed. The service has been involved in teaching and learning research projects with external providers.

This is the service's first review since offering the SPACE programme, that is the focus of this evaluation of BestStart Palmerston North 2. Both services have been reviewed together and have a positive reporting history with ERO.

The Review Findings

The SPACE programme successfully fosters learning partnerships between infants, parents and teachers. The overarching BestStart vison, to work in partnership with parents and whānau, is evident in practice. Parents are supported to spend time and interact with their babies during sessions.

Programme provision for infants focuses on nurturing their wellbeing through responsive caregiving. Parents are well supported by facilitators, to engage in planned activities that are responsive to their infants' stages of development. Families' and children’s sense of belonging are well promoted. Those with diverse learning needs are well supported in an inclusive learning environment. The service works closely with external agencies and whānau to provide ongoing support.

Parents and whānau are encouraged to contribute to the service’s operation. Regular online learning assessment stories capture infants' participation in the programme and their developmental milestones. Facilitators provide parents with ideas to support their baby's development. Some appropriate links to Te Whāriki are made to support adults to notice, recognise and respond to their child's learning.

Daily rituals provide meaningful opportunities for children to hear Māori language through karakia, waiata and basic use of te reo Māori. The attributes of ngā Atua are used in purposeful ways to foster children's developing social and emotional skills. The prescribed SPACE programme acknowledges the diversity of parent and children's cultures. A next step is for leaders and facilitators to consider how they can meaningfully increase the visibility of children's culture and language in planning for sessions and in assessment documentation.

Collaborative leadership and a highly effective professional learning culture support adults to promote positive outcomes for children. Mentors provide appropriate support to all teachers and caregivers.

Evaluation of each daily session informs the planning process. ERO and leaders agree that is timely for the service to evaluate the impact of the SPACE programme aligned to meeting BestStart strategic goals. This should include evaluating the effectiveness of the programme in meeting the needs of all children, particularly for Māori and children of Pacific heritages.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre leaders agree that the service's key next steps are to continue to use BestStart policies and procedures to:

  • meaningfully strengthen the visibility of children's culture, language and identity within the SPACE programme and the assessment documentation
  • use effective internal evaluation to determine how well the service is meeting the needs of all children and their families and what ongoing steps can be taken to improve performance.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of BestStart Palmerston North 2 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

While onsite, ERO identified a non-compliance relating to the implementation of the BestStart excursion procedure. Since the onsite visit, the service has provided ERO with evidence that this has been addressed.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

29 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

89 children, including up to 55 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Male 54, Female 48

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

29 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.