Big Steps Educare Inc - 29/06/2016

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

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


Big Steps Educare is a small, full-day education and care service in Waikouaiti for children from birth to school age. It is located close to the local school and playcentre, with whom it has close working relationships. Teachers and the children often visit and use the playcentre and school environments.

The centre is community owned and overseen by a parent committee who, along with the staff, know centre families well. The manager is the licensee and also leads the teaching team. The staffing is stable with some long-serving teachers.

Older and younger children learn in separate areas in the morning. In the afternoons the children play together. Outside areas provide plenty of opportunity for children to explore, experiment and have physical activity. A major project during 2016 is an extension to the administration area of the building.

The centre's philosophy emphasises that children should experience respectful relationships, and learn long-life skills and interdependence. It strives to uphold the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The committee, centre manager and teachers have made good progress in addressing the key next steps identified in the 2013 ERO evaluation report. The strategic and annual plans have been updated, clearer roles and responsibilities for committee members have been developed and the appraisal process has improved.

The Review Findings

Children play and learn through respectful relationships with their teachers and each other. They are very comfortable with their teachers and confident that they will be accepted and included into activities. Teachers are very welcoming of children and their families. They know them well. They are skilled at settling children who might feel insecure on arrival. Teachers listen carefully to children and use conversations to support and extend their developing language.

Particular strengths at this centre include the ways in which the teachers:

  • support children's transitions into, through and out of the centre

  • extend children’s scientific knowledge, curiosity and understandings of how the world works

  • integrate early literacy and mathematics concepts in children's learning

  • include Māori concepts and perspectives.

Teachers identify children’s learning well. Plans for individual children’s learning show that teachers have listened and responded well to parents’ wishes. Appropriate learning goals are set and planning clearly shows how these relate to Te Whāriki (NZ Early Childhood Curriculum). These goals could be made more explicit and accessible so that all children’s goals are known by all teachers who can then support the learning in an informed manner. Teachers should also consistently include the strategies they intend to use to help children reach their goals. Teachers use information from individual and group assessment to plan the curriculum in general and for individuals specifically.

Teachers are keen to improve their practice. They think deeply about and are well supported by the manager to reflect on what is working well to support children’s learning. These reflections could be extended to identify and record what difference they have made to the learning.

Children are encouraged to manage themselves and help with tasks within the centre. They are empowered to lead their own learning and organise the environment to facilitate this. The inside and outside environments are deliberately resourced and set up to meet the identified needs and interests of children. Children benefit from authentic, ‘hands-on’ learning contexts and activities. Teachers provide many opportunities in the daily programme for deliberate physical activity. The strong focus on health and nutrition has led to the centre gaining a gold Healthy Heart award.

The infants and toddlers play and learn in a calm, settled and nurturing environment. Each child is cared for by one teacher in particular to support their need for bonding and security. They benefit from mostly one-to-one interactions. Teachers plan very well for the young children in their care. The learning stories show progress and how teachers have responded to parents’ wishes and children’s needs.

The centre manager/head teacher has high expectations of herself and for the teachers and children. She is highly reflective and focused on continual improvement linked to best outcomes for children. Teachers and children benefit from the way in which she:

  • actively seeks and participates in staff professional learning and development (PLD), currently in mathematics, appraisal and bicultural practices
  • models high quality teaching and assessment practices
  • supports and sometimes challenges teachers in their practice.

Internal evaluation is valued, championed and effectively led. This process is collaborative and includes comprehensive gathering and analysis of information to inform decisions. This has led to increased knowledge of what is happening for children at the centre. A next step is to ensure questions guiding reviews are evaluative and that indicators of good practice are better used to inform review judgments.

The centre is governed ably by a new parent committee. Through regular reports, members are well informed about a wide range of centre operations. The vision for the centre has been developed collaboratively between teachers, the parent committee and the manager/licensee. Strategic and annual plans are useful and reflect the centre’s current and future priorities.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps are for this centre to:

  • further strengthen the appraisal process and teachers’ understandings of what constitutes evidence for the Practising Teacher Criteria
  • ensure that the manager's appraisal includes her teaching role
  • continue to strengthen aspects of internal evaluation
  • extend consultation to include anonymous teacher satisfaction/perceptions of their employment.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the 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:

  • administration

  • health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • financial and property management.

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. The staff appointments procedure should reflect the relevant requirements of the Vulnerable Children's Act.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Big Steps Educare Inc will be in three years.

Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

29 June 2016

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

Boys: 29 Girls: 23

Ethnic composition





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


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

29 June 2016

Most recent ERO reports


Education Review

March 2013

Education Review

February 2010

Education Review

October 2008

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.