Big Steps Educare Inc - 28/08/2019

1 Evaluation of Big Steps Educare Inc

How well placed is Big Steps Educare Inc to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Big Steps Educare Inc is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Big Steps Educare Inc is a rural, early childhood service that provides education and care for up to 35 children, including 10 aged up to two years. It is located in Waikouaiti and operates from 6.30am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday.

The service's valued outcomes focus on children to be curious, respectful, and interdependent and explorers of their world. The philosophy values the importance of close, respectful relationships between the service, tamariki and their whānau and connections with the wider community.

The day-to-day operations of the centre are managed by the centre manager. Staffing has remained unchanged since ERO's 2016 review. The service has responded well in addressing the recommendations from its last ERO review in 2016.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from an inclusive learning environment which supports their sense of belonging and makes their families feel welcome. The mixed-age setting supports children to develop friendships through cooperative and independent play. They are settled and engaged in their learning.

Positive relationships are evident between children and adults. Their interests, needs and preferences are well known by teachers. Teachers use this knowledge to plan activities and routines, and to adapt the learning environment to support children's learning and development.

The curriculum is broad and offers children a range of interesting and meaningful learning experiences. Early literacy is well supported by teachers, with a strong focus on building oral-language skills for children. The physical environment offers challenge and appropriate risk for children to explore and become fully involved in a wide variety of activities. Daily care routines are well managed and understood by children.

Children under three years old benefit from strong attachments with key contact teachers. High levels of care and respect support infants and toddlers to learn and develop in a safe, calm and settled environment.

A useful planning and assessment system is in place to ensure all children are planned for over time. Parent's aspirations and children’s language, culture and identity are meaningfully included. Further refinement of this will strengthen the quality and consistency of assessment for children's learning.

Teachers maintain open and ongoing communication with parents in order to know about children's changing needs. The contributions of parents and whānau are valued, sought by teachers, and regularly used for planning children's learning.

Leaders and teachers respond appropriately to the interests, strengths, and capabilities of diverse groups of children. Teachers use te reo me ona tikanga Māori in ways that value and recognise New Zealand's bicultural society. They participate in professional learning to further develop bicultural practices in the centre.

The service has well established connections within the wider community. Partnerships with whānau Māori have continued to strengthen over time. This has positively contributed to the development of a working relationship with the local runanga and marae.

The centre and their families have strong reciprocal links with the local school. Children benefit from well planned and positive transitions into, through and beyond the centre. Teachers foster children's friendships to enhance their security and confidence at settling in and transition times.

The centre manager provides ongoing professional and collegial support to all staff. Teachers benefit from a shared leadership approach which supports professional practice and grows their capability. Professional learning is identified and prioritised by the centre manager and staff.

The parent committee has experienced membership changes following the recent annual general meeting. The outgoing committee have implemented a succession plan that will assist the new committee to develop capability and support ongoing sustainability.

Key Next Steps

Big Steps Educare Inc, and ERO agree, that the key next steps to improve outcomes for children are to continue to:

  • develop and build on assessment, planning and evaluation to strengthen the quality and consistency of assessment for children's learning

  • build on current bicultural practices to strengthen ongoing partnerships with whānau Māori and links with local runaka

  • strengthen internal evaluation practices to build evaluative thinking and reasoning which will help guide assessment and planning for children's learning

  • develop and build on the appraisal system to ensure a more cohesive and consistent approach is used for all staff.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Big Steps Educare Inc 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

28 August 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

35 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 37, Boys 32

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


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

July 2019

Date of this report

28 August 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

June 2016

Education Review

March 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.