Country Buddies Preschool Ltd - 07/12/2018

1 Evaluation of Country Buddies Preschool Ltd

How well placed is Country Buddies Preschool Ltd 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.


Country Buddies Preschool Ltd is located in a rural setting close to Morrinsville. The mixed-age centre is licensed for 23 children aged from two to five years. The current roll is 16 children. The centre is privately owned. The owner is responsible for governance, management and leadership, and supports the centre in a teaching role.

Significant changes to teaching staff have occurred since the establishment of the centre in 2016. The Strengthening Early Learning Opportunities (SELO) professional learning and development programme was provided by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to support the centre to meet licensing requirements. The centre received its full licence in February 2018.

The philosophy aims to build strong relationships that support children to be authors of their own learning. The centre philosophy is currently under review. Teachers aim to work in partnership with families in the best interests of the child.

ERO observed that children’s curiosity and active play is fostered through opportunities in the spacious outdoor environment. This encourages children to develop the skills and dispositions to care for the natural environment. Relationships with whānau are focused on knowing children and their families well to better support their learning. A welcoming atmosphere for children and whānau is evident.

This is the first ERO report for the centre.

The Review Findings

Country Buddies Preschool is not well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Although the centre has had MoE guidance and support alongside professional development, ERO has concerns about the centre management's capability to understand and sustain the requirements of the licensing criteria. Priority should be given to the building capability of centre staff to implement the necessary changes for improvement of a quality education and care centre.

Systems and processes to guide centre operation are not effectively implemented. ERO has significant concerns about centre management's capability to build understanding of effective governance, management and leadership that is required for a high-quality education and care centre.

Governance and management need to develop:

  • a vision and strategic plan to outline the direction of the centre
  • coherent systems and processes that meet legislative requirements, and which are understood and communicated centre wide
  • policies and procedures that are aligned and which effectively guide centre practice and improvement
  • quality-assurance systems that support the monitoring and implementation of compliance matters.

Leadership roles and responsibilities are not well understood. Clarifying these roles and responsibilities is a priority. Leaders need to build:

  • a collaborative team culture
  • systems to effectively communicate centre expectations
  • a robust appraisal process that supports staff development
  • the capability of all staff to embed quality practice.

Self review is in the early stages of development. It is not well understood and significant support has been required to undertake review. The centre manager requires further support to build her knowledge and understanding of evaluation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Country Buddies Preschool Ltd 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.

ERO found significant areas of non-compliance in the service related to: appraisal, sleep records, appointment procedures and health and safety. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in these areas by ensuring that:

  • suitable human resource management practices are implemented. This needs to include a system of regular appraisal for all staff
  • heavy equipment that could fall or topple and cause serious injury or damage is appropriately secured or removed
  • accurate records of children's sleep times are kept
  • thorough process for identification of hazards, including storage of medication and dangerous objects in the outdoor environment
  • cooking appliances are not accessible to children without adult assistance or supervision
  • the appointment process meets all the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA7, HS6, HS9, HS12, PF17 Vulnerable Children Act 2014]

To improve practice the centre needs to ensure that policies are aligned to current legislation and used to guide centre practice.

Recommendation to Ministry of Education

ERO recommends that the Ministry reassess the licence of Country Buddies Preschool Ltd. ERO will not undertake a further education review of this service until the Ministry of Education is satisfied that the service meets licensing requirements.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Country Buddies Preschool Ltd will be in consultation with the Ministry of Education.

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

7 December 2018

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

23 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 10 Girls 6

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

7 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

This is the first ERO report for the centre.

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.