Clever Kids Early Learning - 29/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Clever Kids Early Learning

How well placed is Clever Kids Early Learning 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.


Clever Kids Early Learning centre is a new, full-day education and care service located in the Hamilton suburb of Melville. It caters for children from birth to school age, is purpose built and has five different age-based rooms. At the time of this ERO review 125 children were enrolled including 37 of Māori descent.

This is the first ERO review of Clever Kids. The centre opened in 2013 and was purchased by Evolve Education Group Ltd in February 2015. The Ministry of Education's (MoE) relicensing process highlighted significant challenges for the new owners and management to address. A new centre manager was appointed in August 2015. Under her direction and leadership there has been considerable improvements to centre culture, aspects of the curriculum and teachers' practice. The owners provide an appropriate policy framework, financial overview, and professional support for the centre. They have upgraded resourcing and the indoor and outdoor environments.

The centre has participated in a strengthening early learning opportunities (SELO) contract funded by the MoE. This professional learning is positively influencing teachers' practice and programmes for children.

The majority of teachers are qualified early childhood educators, and a large proportion are working towards full teacher certification. They are supported through Evolve's newly implemented coaching and mentoring programme, and recently introduced staff appraisal process.

Through its philosophy Clever Kids aims to:

  • provide a nurturing, inclusive environment promoting children's confidence and independence

  • work alongside whānau to develop understanding of each child's routines and developmental needs

  • provide positive guidance and establish respectful relationships built on mutual trust

  • respect Māori as tāngata whenua and integrate te reo and tikanga Māori in everyday interactions and experiences with children.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from warm, positive relationships and interactions with each other fostered by teachers who are responsive to their needs and interests. This is particularly evident in the babies and toddlers areas. Parents and whānau are warmly welcomed into the centre and share home experiences and care routines with teachers. This contributes to the calm settled environment, children's wellbeing and sense of belonging. Teachers work collaboratively with parents and specialist services to ensure an inclusive programme for children with identified special needs.

Teachers are working towards making environments more natural and home-like through providing real-life materials and equipment. In some rooms, areas of play and displays have been created to effectively provoke children's curiosity and independent exploration. An ongoing priority for the centre is to ensure that all children experience teaching strategies and resourcing to support and extend their play, thinking and learning.

A recent shift in teachers' practice is the move from formal teaching and structured programmes to more play-based learning and flexible routines. These changes are enabling children to follow their interests and engage in longer periods of uninterrupted and sustained play.

Teachers have developed individual portfolios to capture and record children's learning and involvement in the programme. These documents are accessible to parents and children. The recent introduction of an interactive online portfolio is beginning to increase opportunities for parents to share information about their children's interests and learning.

A feature of the centre is the focus on ensuring positive transitions for children and families. Transitions into the centre and between rooms are responsive to children's readiness and parents' needs and preferences. Teachers are currently engaged in professional learning designed to strengthen their understanding of curriculum, and teaching approaches in the early childhood and primary sectors, to enhance continuity of learning for children as they move on to school.

The centre manager, with support from the area manager, has introduced effective processes for self review. Each room is involved in an improvement-focused inquiry intended to improve outcomes for children. These inquiries are informed by teachers' reflections, current research and the perspectives of parents and children.

Key Next Steps

In order to sustain the recent positive progress in centre, it is now important to review the centre philosophy to develop a shared understanding and consistent practice in relation to:

  • how the philosophy will influence practice for each age group and across the centre

  • strengthening the presence of tikanga and te reo Māori as tāngata whenua in the life of the centre

  • elements of effective assessment, planning and evaluation

  • establishing environments that encourage children to be creative and critical thinkers, who are independent, self-motivated and confident learners.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Clever Kids Early Learning 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 Clever Kids Early Learning will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

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

110 children, including up to 30 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 63 Boys 62

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


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

29 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports


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.