Discoveries Educare on Oteha Valley - 22/05/2017

1 Evaluation of Discoveries Educare on Oteha Valley

How well placed is Discoveries Educare on Oteha Valley 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.


Discoveries Educare on Oteha Valley is a new centre that has been open for two years. It is located in a business area in Albany, Auckland and caters for 61 children including up to 20 children under two years of age. Full day and sessional options are available for families. The centre caters for a diverse community. Children and staff represent the many cultures of the community.

The centre is organised into three spaces, for infants and toddlers up to two years, children over two years of age, and a preschool room. Older children share a spacious outdoor area. Younger children have access to the outdoors in a smaller fenced area.

The centre is owned and operated by the Discoveries Educare organisation. Two owners and a business manager work collaboratively to support 13 centres across the wider Auckland area. Three new support managers are planned for, with one recently appointed, to provide management, leadership and curriculum support.

The Discoveries Educare organisation has rapidly expanded. The owners are now focused on consolidating growth, and appointing qualified staff to promote quality early childhood care and education. A clearly structured strategic plan provides long term direction for ongoing improvement.

Each Discoveries Educare centre operates their own annual plan based on the community they serve. There is a strong family-friendly philosophy based on respectful relationships and valuing children's unique cultural identity.

This review was part of a cluster of four early childhood reviews in the Discoveries Educare organisation. This is the first ERO review for all four centres in the cluster.

The Review Findings

The centre has a strong focus on developing positive relationships with families. Leaders ensure that good communication systems operate between the centre and families. Parents can contribute ideas and information to support their children's learning. Centre staff are respectful, culturally inclusive and value the diversity of children and their families.

Positive relationships and interactions between staff and older children are evident. These children appear happy in their learning as they move freely between the inside and outside environments. Inside environments are inviting and attractive, particularly in the over two areas. 

Younger children's care routines are personalised and flexible. Children under two years have experienced a change in teachers over the past few months. Additional resourcing is required to expand the range of learning materials available for infants and toddlers. Displays and resources could be lowered to encourage children's movement, visual tracking and engagement in activities.

The recruitment of an under-two team leader is underway. A shared centre understanding of effective teaching practices for younger children is required to improve the quality of education of these children. Due to the location of the sleep area, better monitoring of sleeping children is required. Leaders are considering the use of additional staffing to enable this.

The centre has identified areas where Māori concepts are used to promote biculturalism. Teachers could further develop these concepts to strengthen the recognition of the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand in the daily programme. Teachers could also increase their use of te reo Māori.

Good systems are used to assess children's learning. Individual children's portfolios are of good quality, and some identify children's progress and next learning steps. The junior and middle age group portfolios also include evaluative summaries for parents. Leaders could ensure that teachers more consistently identify children's learning. They could also help staff to evaluate the effectiveness of their assessment and planning for individual children.

Planning is accessible for all teachers to see and to make contributions. They make changes and add activities to enhance the programme. A weekly review of programme planning would be useful to further guide teaching strategies and practices. Some teachers are responsive to children's interests, and they enhance children's opportunities for learning. These good practices could be more consistently used across the centre.   

The centre is well resourced and children have a sufficient range of resources to use. However teachers should provide more challenge for children in their play. They could use more natural resources to enhance the environments, and promote more literacy, numeracy, creativity and science in the outdoor programme.

The centre manager has developed a positive culture over the last two years. The organisational philosophy, vision and direction guides the centre's practices. The organisational policy and procedure framework is regularly updated and guides centre operations. Policy review could be included more in centre staff meetings. Organisational health and safety systems have been reviewed and strengthened using external advice.

Staff performance systems are robust. However the centre manager should ensure all staff annually document sufficient evidence to meet all the Practising Teacher Criteria. Professional development is well supported by the centre manager and other organisational leaders. Organisational managers regularly visit the centre to give advice and ensure consistency in management practice.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre leaders agree that next key steps for the centre include:

  • developing challenge, variety and complexity in the outdoor environment to promote children's exploration, investigation and creativity
  • distributing leadership responsibility
  • increase teachers' evaluation of the impact of their teaching practice on children's learning
  • enhancing the learning environment and quality of interactions in the under two area
  • improving supervision of the sleep room.

ERO and the Discoveries Educare Management team agree that the next steps for the organisation include:

  • extending the quality of leaders' and teachers' evaluation of the outcomes for children in annual planning and internal evaluation
  • developing the support manager role to focus on the provision of quality outcomes for children with a specific focus on teaching practices for children up to the age of two years
  • continuing to refine staff performance management policies and procedures to meet the Education Council requirements
  • consolidating management systems and processes to respond to organisational growth
  • increasing professional development and support to enhance the bicultural curriculum.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Discoveries Educare on Oteha Valley 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 Discoveries Educare on Oteha Valley will be in three years.

Steffan Brough
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

22 May 2017 

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 


Albany, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

61 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys      26
Girls       20

Ethnic composition

Middle Eastern
other European
other Asian


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

January 2017

Date of this report

22 May 2017

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.