Dargaville Free Kindergarten - 13/10/2016

1 Evaluation of Dargaville Free Kindergarten

How well placed is Dargaville Free Kindergarten 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.


Dargaville Kindergarten in Northland is licensed to provide education and care for up to 40 children over the age of two years. Most attend a six hour session similar to school hours, five days per week. The Kindergarten is part of the Northland Kindergarten Association (NKA), which provides a governance and management framework to support its operation.

The current team of staff has been together for a period of six months. Four qualified teachers are supported by an additional teacher who provides lunchtime cover.

A new kindergarten philosophy is being developed. Some key aspects include the recognition of children as capable and competent learners, respect and manaaki for all things and each other, positive relationships, and the importance of play as a fundamental tool for learning. Teachers have a strong commitment to the ongoing development of their bicultural practice and professional growth.

The 2012 ERO report highlighted the respectful, learning focused interactions between children, whānau and teachers, the child led programme and the strong commitment of the teaching team to ongoing development of their bicultural practice. All of these continue to be evident.

Areas for review identified in the 2012 ERO report included strengthening the team's multicultural practice, and using children's interests and parent aspirations in programme planning. There has been good progress is these areas.

This review was part of a cluster of eight kindergarten reviews in the Northland Kindergarten Association.

The Review Findings

Children have a sense of ownership of the kindergarten environment. They settle easily into imaginative play with friends, engage in the many interesting experiences set up by teachers, and explore resources of their own choosing. The programme is well paced, allowing children to develop their play, and bring complexity to their work.

Children eagerly share play areas or items of particular interest with their whānau. Parents take time to sit and read stories or go through portfolios with their children. Relationships established between teachers and whānau support children's sense of belonging in the kindergarten environment.

Children's creativity is valued by teachers. Their art work is respectfully and sensitively displayed. Teachers are responsive, respectful and good role models of language. They provide opportunities for children to be leaders.

Careful consideration is being given to a review of the environment. The aim is to ensure it reflects the developing philosophy, links to children's current interests, embraces te ao Māori and provides opportunities for children to take risks and be creative.

There are numerous opportunities for children to revisit their play and learning through photographs and narratives displayed throughout the environment. Children's portfolios of learning are easily accessible.

Teachers celebrate each child's uniqueness and find ways for all children to maintain a connection with their cultural identity. Teachers value and recognise the knowledge and tipuna that come with each child. They are committed to continuing to develop their knowledge and understanding of the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa. They also continue to seek ways to make this visible in the kindergarten.

Teachers work in-depth with the principles and strands of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. They provide a curriculum that is responsive to children's deep interests, knowledge, skills and dispositions. Learning stories reflect the complexity of children's relationships with people, places and things, and build each child's identity as a successful learner. Teachers' knowledge of Māori theories and philosophies is assisting in the development of a culturally appropriate curriculum.

Teachers are focused on developing shared understandings of quality teaching practice and want this to be reflected in their philosophy statement. The kindergarten's strategic and operational plans link well with those of the Association.

Self review has already resulted in many changes in the kindergarten. The development of a more robust process of evaluation will be the focus of ongoing support from Association personnel.

The Association's governance practices are effective. Its long-term direction continues to focus on continually improving learning outcomes for children. Positive strategies include:

very good support and guidance by Association personnel, especially in the development of culturally responsive practices and the integration of te ao Māori in ways that are meaningful for children

  • new teacher appraisal systems, and professional learning that focus more closely on improving team skills, knowledge and practice, and more distributed leadership practices

regular head teacher meetings that provide opportunities for collegial discussion and support.

Key Next Steps

The teaching team agrees that to enhance their current good quality provision for children, they should continue to:

  • develop and embed their new philosophy statement

  • develop assessments of children's learning, programme planning and evaluation processes to better reflect their deepening knowledge and understandings about te ao Māori.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Dargaville Free 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Dargaville Free Kindergarten will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

13 October 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

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 30 Boys 24

Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

13 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2012

Education Review

May 2009

Education Review

February 2006

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.