Cromwell Early Learning Centre Inc - 10/02/2015

1 Evaluation of Cromwell Early Learning Centre Inc

How well placed is Cromwell Early Learning Centre Inc 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.


Cromwell Early Learning Centre Inc is a community-based centre for children aged from two to five years. 

All teachers are fully qualified and most have worked at the centre for many years. As a result, they know their children, their families and the local community very well. 

Families are very involved in the centre. They raise significant funds for resources, help at the centre and on excursions. Parents often choose to stay and play alongside the children. 

The centre’s philosophy emphasises children learning in a mixed-age, free-play setting. Teachers recently extended the centre philosophy to include Māori concepts, such as whanaungatanga (respect for family) and manaakitanga (caring). The centre has a very close relationship with the local schools. 

A governance committee made up of centre parents oversees the running of the centre. Most are new to this role. Since the 2011 ERO review, the indoor and outdoor areas have been further upgraded, creating attractive and spacious indoor and outdoor areas. 

Staff have maintained the many good practices identified in the last ERO report. Progress has been made in addressing some of ERO’s recommendations. Other areas, such as strengthening how teachers review and evaluate their work to support children’s learning, need further work.

The Review Findings

Children learn in a spacious and very well-resourced centre. The large outdoor area has many places for children to play, explore and develop physical skills. They confidently approach their teachers and play well alongside and with each other. Friendships amongst children are evident.

Relationships between teachers and the children and with families are friendly and affirming. Teachers know the children and their families well and go out of their way to support families when the need arises.

The children are settled and focused in their play. They confidently make choices about what they want to do. Teachers follow children’s lead and join in their play without taking over. ERO observed some very good examples of teachers building on children’s ideas and extending their thinking. 

Children in this centre also benefit from:

  • a very well-planned transition-to-school programme
  • a rich and varied extension programme for older children, where they go on interesting trips into the local community and learn about the natural world
  • a strong focus on literacy, gardening and caring for the living and non-living world
  • authentic group learning activities, such as learning about hunting, sewing and baking
  • planned and incidental opportunities for mathematical learning.

Teachers have improved their planning for individual children by finding better ways to gather and act on parents’ ideas about their children’s learning. Teachers identify and discuss learning goals for each child. The next step is to be more explicit about the strategies they use to support group and individual learning. Assessment records need to better show children’s progress over time and the difference teachers have made. Teachers also need to better evaluate how well they have supported group learning.

The teachers work well as a team and value each others’ strengths and knowledge. For example, one teacher enriches children’s and adults’ learning through sharing her knowledge of Māori language and culture. Overall, good appraisal processes are in place. However, aspects could be strengthened. For example, teachers’ goals for improvement and planned actions should be more specific and challenging. Appraisal of leaders should include appraisal of their teaching role. The appraiser should provide a report to each staff member.

Centre leaders and teachers have identified that they need to strengthen how they use self review as a tool for ongoing improvement. This includes asking more evaluative questions and reviewing against ‘best practice’ indicators.

Centre leaders and ERO agree that the centre needs to review its philosophy and strategic plan to ensure that these capture the centre’s priorities for learning and centre development. When reviewing aspects of centre practice, leaders should refer back to these documents and ask how well practices align with their stated priorities.

There are very efficient systems in place for the smooth day-to-day running of the centre. Leaders have carefully planned for, and managed well, recent changes in key staff and committee members.

The head teacher and licensee have developed useful guidelines for the governance of the centre, including clear roles and responsibilities. This has greatly helped the new committee. ERO suggests that centre leaders provide more comprehensive reports to the committee and regularly report on progress towards implementing the strategic and annual plans. Committee minutes should record in more detail what was discussed, decisions made and actions taken.

Key Next Steps

Centre leaders agree that they need to continue to:

  • strengthen self review, including aspects of appraisal and reporting (to the committee)
  • review the centre philosophy and strategic and annual plans so that these capture their priorities.

Teachers need to:

  • be more explicit about the strategies they use to support children’s learning
  • improve aspects of assessment
  • regularly evaluate what difference they have made for children’s learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Cromwell Early Learning Centre Inc 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 Cromwell Early Learning Centre Inc will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

10 February 2015

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service


Cromwell, Central Otago

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

35 children over the age of 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 26

Girls: 23

Ethnic composition



South African






Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

Not applicable


Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

10 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

January 2012


Education Review

August 2008


Education Review

December 2005

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.