Country Kids ECE Limited - 21/01/2019

1 Evaluation of Country Kids ECE Limited

How well placed is Country Kids ECE Limited 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 Kids ECE Limited, is an early learning service situated in the rural community of Norsewood, in the Tararua District. It is licensed to provide education and care for 35 children, including 12 up to the age of two years. At the time of this review there were 41 children on the roll, including ten Māori children. The centre is a mixed-age environment, with a separate area for infants and toddlers.

The service was purchased by the owners in 2016. The licensee also operates three Scallywaggs early childhood centres in Waipukurau. A head teacher was also appointed at this time who has the day-to-day management responsibility of the centre. Administration and governance support is provided from the Scallywaggs umbrella organisation.

The Country Kids philosophy emphasises the importance of respectful relationships and a sense of belonging. Children's independence, risk taking and fun are encouraged, together with supporting children's confidence and resilience.

The March 2014 ERO report identified the need to continue to develop connections with local iwi and centre whānau to increase teachers' knowledge and understanding of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. This is a strategic focus and teachers have made good progress in this area.

The Review Findings

The centre philosophy is highly evident in practice. The environment, resources and planned activities reflect the rural context and children's home experiences.

Children lead their own learning and are encouraged to problem solve and take risks. Teachers work alongside of children supporting and extending their play and learning.

Respectful teaching practices promote a calm, settled environment where children are engaged in sustained play. Children's language is enhanced through conversations with teachers. They recognise and respond to opportunities that engage in and enhance children's learning. Warm, reciprocal relationships between teachers, children and parents are fostered and contribute to children's sense of belonging.

Partnerships with parents and the community are promoted and their contributions to the programme are valued. Children have regular opportunities to learn outside the centre which extends the curriculum provided.

Assessment, planning and evaluation have been recently reviewed. Strengthened use of whānau voice has resulted in more meaningful connections between home, centre and community. These are reflected in the programme and informs planning for children's learning. An online assessment tool is used to promote parent participation in their child's learning.

Children's portfolios provide a useful record of their interests and involvement in the programme. Clear guidelines for teacher expectations of assessment practices have been introduced. These are not yet consistently enacted. Leaders should establish a process to monitor the effective implementation of these expectations.

Younger children benefit from the mixed-age setting through positive interactions with older children. They have opportunities to explore and are viewed as capable and confident learners and their independence is fostered. Responsive caregiving is evident.

Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are well promoted. Te reo Māori is used in meaningful ways and is well understood by children. A range of resources, displays and artefacts make te ao Māori are visible in the environment. Teachers are continuing to seek and act upon opportunities to further extend their knowledge and understanding of educational success for Māori children.

Transitions into and through the centre are a well-considered and collaborative process. A separate area is available for non-mobile children when required. Acknowledgement of children's transitions are visible in the environment. Partnerships with the local school and teachers' active involvement in the Dannevirke Kāhui Ako contributes to supporting children's learning pathways.

Leaders recognise the need to build their understanding of internal evaluation. Next steps should include undertaking a deeper analysis of evidence gathered to support evaluative thinking and reasoning.

A distributed approach to leadership supports teachers to take on responsibilities and draws on their skills and expertise.

Leaders have identified that strengthening of the appraisal processes and practices is a key next step. The governance organisation has sought external professional development to assist teachers with building their knowledge and understanding of requirements. Strengthening is required in relation to:

  • formal observations of teacher practice where useful feedback and next steps are documented

  • effective documentation to support attestation to show how teachers have met the professional standards set out for professional practice.

Leaders should also develop clear expectations of teacher practice through the appraisal policy.

The centre's strategic and annual plan appropriately identifies the service's priorities with a focus on future sustainability.

Key Next Steps

Leaders, teachers and ERO agree the following key next steps are to continue to strengthen:

  • assessment and planning processes

  • internal evaluation

  • teacher appraisal.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Country Kids ECE Limited 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.

Leaders should develop a robust process to monitor the effective implementation of health and safety practices. ERO found areas of non-compliance for Country Kids ECE Limited. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • medication - parental acknowledgement of medication administered

  • ratios for excursions - parental permission to be given

  • strengthening hazard identification in relation to reducing accessibility of plug sockets in the children's sleep area; removal of chairs and coats near the fire guard; and stabilising the outdoor climbing frame.

[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, Reg HS28; HS17; HS12; Health and Safety practices standard: general; Licensing Criteria for early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008]

Since the onsite phase of ERO's visit, leaders have taken steps to address these areas of concern.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Country Kids ECE Limited will be in three years.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

21 January 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

35 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 26, Girls 15

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


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

November 2018

Date of this report

21 January 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2014

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.