Cambridge E L Centre "The Castle" - 26/06/2020

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

Cambridge E L Centre "The Castle" requires further development to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Cambridge Early Learning Centre-The Castle, requires further development so that leaders and teachers ensure compliance with all health and safety licensing requirements, as outlined in the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations and the 2008 Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Services.

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


Cambridge Early Learning Centre -The Castle is a community-based, all-day education and care service located in Cambridge. The centre operates under the umbrella of the Cambridge Childcare Trust (CCT) and is licensed for 75 children, including 26 up to the age of two years old. Two age-based rooms operate, one for children up to 18 months of age and the other for children from 18 months to three years. The current roll of 61 children, includes seven who identify as Māori.

The CCT operates a service for older children, The Pagoda, on the same site. A centre coordinator oversees both services. At The Castle, she is supported by three team leaders who provide professional guidance and support for staff.

The service philosophy promotes strong relationships, active exploration and links to the home and wider community.

The June 2016 ERO report identified areas for improvement in relation to developing and implementing self review and developing explicit, shared and agreed expectations for centre operation. These have not yet been fully addressed.

The Review Findings

The CCT and leaders should ensure that the service is guided by policies and procedures that clearly show expectations of practice in relation to the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008. These should be regularly monitored to ensure licensing requirements are upheld. Management now needs to review the effectiveness of current systems and centre operation.

Promoting strong learning relationships is a key focus for teachers. They skilfully notice, recognise and respond to children’s learning. Oral language is well supported through open-ended questions and children’s desire to inquire and be curious. Children’s preferences are respected by teachers as they choose to play alongside their peers, with adults and independently.

The curriculum is responsive to children's interests and promotes successful outcomes. Ongoing observation of children in everyday activities builds a picture of what they are interested in and can do. Teachers use this information well to plan activities and experiences to successfully extend children's learning.

Parents and teachers increasingly share assessment information to plan children's individual learning. An on-line assessment platform is assisting this relationship. Teachers view each family and knowledge of their child as an integral part of the learning community. Meaningful and well considered transitions within the centre contributes to children's sense of belonging. Children are seen as confident learners and explorers.

A bicultural curriculum is evident in routines and in some aspects of the programme. Leaders and teachers recognise the need to strengthen this. Further work is required to develop a whole team approach to supporting Māori children's learning.

Children have access to a wide range of equipment, engage in uninterrupted play and maintain interest over time. Literacy, mathematics and science are effectively and authentically woven through play and learning. Children experience a wide range of choices in their play and are confident to make their own decisions.

Children up to two years of age have personalised routines and nursery teachers maintain a calm and slow pace. Children have easy access to an environment that is well resourced and encourages exploration. Responsive care-giving supports infants' need for strong and secure attachments.

Teachers upskill through professional reading and research. The service now needs to implement its appraisal framework to meet The Standards for the Teaching Profession. This includes; regular observations, appraiser feedback and summary reports.

Key Next Steps

The CCT, leaders and teachers should:

  • improve self review for accountability to ensure that licensing requirements are upheld

  • continue to strengthen the bicultural curriculum

  • develop a whole team approach to supporting Māori children's success.

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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to health and safety and governance, management and administration. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • record keeping in relation to emergency drills; sleep monitoring; excursions; accidents; administration of medication

  • a system of regular appraisal

  • selection and appointment procedures

  • an annual plan identifying 'who', 'what', and 'when' in relation to key tasks undertaken each year

  • that the service is effectively governed and is managed in accordance with good management practices

  • appropriate documentation and records are developed, maintained, and regularly reviewed.

[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS8; HS9; HS17; HS27; HS28; GMA7; GMA8]

[Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 46; 47 General].

Since the onsite stage of the ERO evaluation, the service has provided the outline of an annual plan and this has yet to identify who will undertake the tasks listed.

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Darcy Te Hau

Acting Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

26 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



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

Male 33, Female 28

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


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

26 June 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2016

Education Review

July 2013

Education Review

August 2010

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.