Cambridge E L Centre "The Castle" - 16/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Cambridge E L Centre The Castle

How well placed is Cambridge E L Centre The Castle 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.


Cambridge E L Centre The Castle is a community-based, all-day education and care centre located in central Cambridge. It is licensed for 75 children, including up to 26 under the age of two years. The centre operates two age-based rooms, one for children up to 18 months of age and the other for children from 18 months to three years. Children over three are able to attend Cambridge EL Centre The Pagoda centre situated on an adjacent site. The centre's roll of 71 includes 11 children of Māori descent.

The centre's philosophy makes a commitment to developing strong relationships with families and whānau, active exploration, and links to the home and wider community.

The centre operates under the umbrella of the Cambridge Childcare Trust that continues to provide effective governance for the centre. The trust is well led by a long-serving chairperson and trustees who are fully committed to the centre's philosophy.

The centre coordinator oversees the operation of both The Castle and Pagoda licences. At The Castle she is supported by three team leaders who provide professional guidance and support for teachers within each of the age-based areas.

Since the 2013 ERO review the centre has been relicensed and the licensing numbers have been increased from 50 to 75 children. Staffing at the centre has remained consistent over the last three years.

The centre has a positive ERO reporting history. However the next step in the 2013 ERO report about strengthening self-review practices remains an area for development.

The Review Findings

Children participate in a programme where there are many opportunities for them to make choices about their play. This is balanced by teacher-led learning and care routines. Particular strengths of the programme include:

  • children's ready access to interesting and challenging outdoor play areas that place an emphasis on the natural world

  • well-managed integration of literacy and mathematics learning through children's play including promoting oral language skills through teachers use of appropriate language structures in meaningful conversations

  • opportunities for children to explore the local and wider community

  • children's access to an appropriate range of high-quality resources.

Effectively planned and managed transition times support children and families into a welcoming and familiar environment.

Babies and children up to the age of two years benefit from the centre's commitment to providing learning and care from consistent key teachers. These children enjoy exploring and learning in a calm and aesthetically pleasing environment. Teachers are responsive to the individual care needs of babies and to supporting parent care preferences.

Māori children benefit from positive relationships that teachers have established over time with them and their whānau. Aspects of Māori children's language, culture and identity are visible in the programme and environment. As identified in the 2013 ERO report and in the centre's strategic plan there remains a need to:

  • support teachers to develop their confidence and ability to more frequently use te reo Māori in their daily interactions with children

  • work in partnership with whānau to integrate local Māori history and places of significance into the programme.

Teachers meet regularly to plan and present the daily programme, and to reflect and respond to children's emerging interests. Attractively presented individual learning portfolios provide parents and children with a record of their participation in the programme. In these portfolios regular learning stories identify children's developing interests and skills.

Children's physical activity and health are successfully promoted by opportunities to experience safe physical challenge in the outdoor play areas and the provision of healthy meals and snacks.

A particular strength of the centre is the supportive, positive and responsive relationships that all staff have established with children and their families. The long-established team of teachers and support staff place high priority on providing an inclusive service for families. All staff are strongly committed and enthusiastic about their ongoing professional learning and development.

Children's learning, and sense of wellbeing and belonging is enhanced by teachers:

  • taking time to share important information with families that maintain strong links between the service and children's homes

  • active participation alongside children in play

  • nurturing and caring interactions with children.

These effective teaching practices contribute to high levels of children's meaningful and sustained play.

The experienced and supportive centre coordinator continues to provide good-quality leadership for the centre. This contributes to a focused, strong and productive relationships among staff, children, parents and the wider community. Through these partnerships and with support of the team leaders she effectively promotes the centre's philosophy for the benefit of children. Team leaders access appropriate external support for children with identified needs. Centre leaders actively promote a culture that encourages teachers to undertake ongoing reflection about their practices.

Trustees are well informed about centre operations. They are committed to employing fully-qualified teachers and to providing them with extensive professional learning and development opportunities. Together with the centre coordinator, teachers have developed a useful plan to guide ongoing centre development. An appropriate policy structure has been developed to ensure that the centre meets regulatory requirements. Teachers appreciate the holistic support that they receive from the trust and centre leaders.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for the centre are to develop:

  • and implement robust self-review practices that enable centre leaders to evaluate the effectiveness of important aspects of centre operations

  • explicit, shared and agreed expectations for key aspects of centre operations, including teaching practice, assessment, planning and evaluation practices, and appraisal systems.

Attention to these areas is likely to support the centre to continue to strengthen its current good practices.


The trust and centre leaders access external support to develop robust self-review processes.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Cambridge E L Centre The Castle 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 Cambridge E L Centre The Castle will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

16 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

75 children, including up to 26 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 37

Boys 34

Ethnic composition













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

April 2016

Date of this report

16 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

July 2013

Education Review

August 2010

Education Review

June 2006

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.