Brown Owl Kindergarten - 23/05/2017

1 Evaluation of Brown Owl Kindergarten

How well placed is Brown Owl Kindergarten 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.


Brown Owl Kindergarten is in Upper Hutt, Wellington. It opens Monday to Friday from 8:30am until 2:30pm for up to 40 children, aged two to five years.

The kindergarten philosophy stresses the importance of seven principles. These include whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga, participation, challenge, spiritedness and mana.

There have been changes to the teaching team and head teacher since the October 2013 ERO report. A kaiako has been employed on a part-time basis since 2015, to assist teachers and children to grow their understanding and use of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. The newly established team recognise the importance of developing a collaborative team culture. Families and teachers have undertaken improvements to the outdoor learning spaces to enhance these for children.

Brown Owl Kindergarten is one of 85 kindergartens and three home-based education and care networks governed and managed by He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association Incorporated (the association). This is a new kindergarten association created from joining the Rimutaka and Wellington Kindergarten Associations in 2014. This is the first review for this kindergarten since the merger.

The board and managers provide governance for the organisation. Senior teachers have delegated kindergartens. Their role is to provide regular support and a range of professional learning and development opportunities for teachers.

In 2012, the Wellington association developed a framework to guide the implementation of its curriculum, Te Manawa. This document outlines criteria for curriculum delivery including expectations for assessment and planning for children’s learning. Its introduction within this and other ex-Rimutaka Kindergartens occurred during 2015, with each kindergarten adapting it to respond to their community.  

The previous ERO report for Brown Owl Kindergarten identified a number of areas for review and development. These included: strengthening how the aspirations of parents were gathered; better responding to Māori and Pacific learners; and deepening assessment practices. The teaching team has made some useful gains in responding to these areas, in which there remain matters for ongoing focus.

This review was part of a cluster of nine reviews in the He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association Incorporated.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from positive, responsive and affirming relationships with others. They show confidence to approach their peers, share ideas and sustain their play. Children's curiosity and exploration are promoted through purposeful and thoughtfully designed learning areas, particularly outdoors. The child-centred curriculum responds to their interests well.

Teachers encourage children to problem solve and persist with new learning challenges. They effectively support their developing social skills. Teachers foster language development well.

A more bicultural curriculum and increased opportunities for children to experience te reo me ngā tikanga Maori are evident as a result of purposeful integration within the programme. Acknowledged next steps are to further develop strategies and approaches to effectively promote Māori children's success as Māori. There is an ongoing focus on improving teachers' response to Pacific learners.

Teachers are continuing to strengthen self review and evaluation to improve teaching and learning. There is a sound framework in place for review. Teachers have opportunities to contribute to and lead inquiries. The senior teacher has identified key areas to deepen this process and its contribution to improved outcomes for children. ERO's evaluation affirms these findings.

Children requiring extra support for their learning are actively supported by teachers. Staff work well with families and external agencies to respond to children's needs and abilities.

Teachers are actively involved in external networks and professional learning groups to support transitions to school across the Upper Hutt community. There is an appropriate programme focus that promotes skills and competencies to assist children as they move to school.

Teachers are increasingly making use of Te Manawa to guide their practice. They are exploring further ways to share children's learning and better respond to families' aspirations. Developing shared expectations of curriculum assessment and planning is an area to further develop.

The senior teacher provides termly written feedback on agreed development priorities and the quality of teaching and learning. Annual internal evaluation supports strengthening of these termly reports. There is a deliberate focus on outcomes for children and teacher/leader performance. 

A strengthened appraisal model is being implemented across the kindergartens. This includes focused goals that build teacher and leader capability, and clearer links with the Practising Teacher Criteria. Leaders and teachers at Brown Owl Kindergarten are continuing to strengthen their appraisal practice. 

Key Next Steps

The senior teacher, head teacher, staff and ERO agree on the following key next steps for Brown Owl Kindergarten, to:

  • continue to strengthen shared understanding of processes for effective internal evaluation
  • further develop assessment and planning practices
  • deepen learning partnerships with families and whānau
  • extend practices that promote a bicultural curriculum and Māori and Pacific children's success.

The association should continue to support the development of formal critique of teaching practice and strengthening responsiveness to Māori children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Brown Owl Kindergarten 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. 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Brown Owl Kindergarten will be in three years. 

Patricia Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

23 May 2017 

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


Upper Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 25, Boys 20

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

23 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

October 2013

Education Review

May 2010

Education Review

January 2007

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.