Cascades Kindergarten - 09/10/2019

1 Evaluation of Cascades Kindergarten

How well placed is Cascades Kindergarten to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Cascades Kindergarten is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Cascades Kindergarten is situated in Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga. It provides for 40 children over two years of age in six-hour daily sessions. It serves a culturally and socio-economically diverse community.

The new teaching team reflects the cultural makeup of the community. It includes four registered teachers, one of whom is newly appointed. The head teacher is a recent appointment from within the teaching team. A teaching assistant, an administrator and a teacher aide are all part-time staff.

The kindergarten's philosophy is based on whanaungatanga, fostering trusting relationships with children and their whānau, and valuing the learning community. It is guided by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. The kindergarten is a Silver Enviroschools Kindergarten that emphasises environmental exploration.

Cascades Kindergarten has a history of positive ERO reports. Good practices identified in ERO’s 2014 report continue to be evident. Areas identified as key next steps have been addressed.

The kindergarten is part of the Auckland Kindergarten Association (AKA), which provides leadership, a framework of policies and operational guidelines, support personnel and programmes of professional learning and development. Strategic planning supports the kindergartens’ development and future focus. A new AKA structure has been established and new personnel appointed. Many of these roles have recently been established.

This review was part of a cluster of 10 reviews in the Auckland Kindergarten Association.

The Review Findings

Community relationships continue to be a key feature of the kindergarten. Teachers maintain an ongoing focus on implementing strategies that increase and enhance children's sense of belonging. Teachers foster inclusive partnerships with families that benefit children's learning.

Children have many opportunities for extended periods of uninterrupted play. They are able to make choices and solve problems in the well-resourced environment. Teachers encourage children to play either independently or cooperatively. They use open-ended questions to extend their learning and enhance children's oral language skills. They have identified that they could make greater use of the richness available to children through their location in the park.

Children with additional learning needs are well supported and cheerfully play with others. The service makes good use of external agencies to support these children and their families. Children's home languages are respected. A variety of languages are used by teachers, parents and children during the programme.

Teachers respect and acknowledge Māori as tangata whenua. They enrich children's awareness of the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand through Matariki celebrations and marae visits that include participating in tikanga Māori. Te reo Māori is prominent in the environment and in incidental conversation. Teachers promote te ao Māori through the Enviroschools programme.

Children's portfolios of learning progress contain a mix of individual and group stories. Individual assessments clearly show how teachers value children's growing dispositions and developing skills, and how these could be extended. Teachers could identify more explicit ways to extend skills and dispositions across the curriculum and to foster complex learning based on children's interests.

Children's portfolios also illustrate the variety of activities that promote their understanding about science. They have access to a wide range of resources that enable them to explore science concepts and the natural environment. Teachers could enhance children's science thinking and understanding by integrating more explicit discussions about science concepts and the nature of science.

Teachers are very reflective and are in the early stages of implementing effective internal evaluation. They are working with AKA personnel to enhance their evaluative understanding and skill. They use the AKA's systematic evaluation framework effectively to guide their 'teaching as inquiry' projects, which have helped them to develop their practice.

The AKA continues to provide support for kindergartens to strengthen bicultural practices. In many instances this has made a significant difference to confidence and capability. Specialist support impacts positively on teachers’ confidence and inclusion of children with additional learning needs. Specific programmes that help teachers to support children’s developing social competencies can now be extended across all kindergartens. The strategic direction being established by new AKA leaders is providing a positive framework for kindergartens’ annual planning.

Key Next Steps

Teachers and AKA leaders agree that next steps include:

  • documenting deliberate decisions about enhancing children's ongoing learning and interests, in their portfolios

  • using the AKA framework for internal evaluation more effectively to determine how well teachers are providing for the strengths, interests and needs of all children, and how their learning is progressing.

It would be useful for AKA managers to continue their skilful support for the new kindergarten head teacher in her role as a leader, and to:

  • clarify new roles and engage teaching teams in the implementation of the new structure across the AKA

  • increase the rigour of monitoring and quality assurance, and strengthen internal evaluation at all levels of the AKA

  • identify and implement strategies for achieving greater consistency of the practices that are strengths in some kindergartens, across the AKA.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Cascades 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.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

9 October 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


Pakuranga, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children over the age of 2 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 24 Girls 23

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Southeast Asian
other Asian
other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

July 2019

Date of this report

9 October 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2014

Education Review

August 2011

Education Review

August 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

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.