Discovery Kindergarten - 05/06/2015

1. Evaluation of Discovery Kindergarten

How well placed is Discovery 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.


Discovery Kindergarten is a situated in Whitby, Wellington. It is one of 85 kindergartens and three home-based education and care networks governed and managed by He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association Incorporated (the association). This is a new kindergarten association created from the joining of the Rimutaka and Wellington Kindergarten Associations in 2014. The transition to the new association is expected to be a three-year process.

The board and managers provide governance for the organisation. Senior teachers have delegated kindergartens. Their role is to provide regular support and a range of professional learning and development opportunities for teachers.

Since the June 2012 ERO report, a new staff team has been established. Operational hours have changed and a mixed–age approach now operates daily. All teachers are qualified.

The previous ERO report identified areas in need of review in relation to the assessment of children’s learning, self review and the bicultural curriculum. These areas continue to need improvement and feature as key next steps in this report.

Areas where the Wellington Kindergarten Association needed to strengthen its support for teachers were also identified at the time. Improvement continues to be needed in some of these areas that the association has plans to address. These feature as key next steps in this report. The alignment of individual kindergarten's annual plans with the association’s strategic priorities has now been addressed.

This review was part of a cluster of 12 kindergarten reviews in He Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens.

The Review Findings

The Discovery Kindergarten curriculum is responsive to children’s interests and ideas. Teachers are guided by children’s learning, supporting them to explore and extend their ideas. They use openended questions effectively, to prompt and extend children’s language and understanding of mathematics and science concepts.

Children show security and confidence in their interactions with their peers and adults. They join other children in play and are also able to work independently.

Teachers encourage, and provide opportunities for, parents and whānau to contribute to the curriculum. Aspirations for their children are valued and taken into account in programme planning. Transitions into the kindergarten and to schools are responsive to individual needs. Strategies to support Pacific children are developing.

In 2012, the association developed a framework to guide the implementation of its curriculum, Te Manawa. This document outlines criteria for curriculum delivery including expectations for assessment and planning for children’s learning. The head teacher and staff at Discovery Kindergarten are using Te Manawa appropriately to guide their practice. A new process of assessment, planning and evaluation of children’s learning was introduced in 2014. Teachers should continue to further develop and strengthen this approach.

Staff knowledge of self review is developing. It has led to some positive changes in the kindergarten. A next step is for teachers to continue to develop their understanding and use of self review and evaluation to support ongoing improvement.

The senior teacher provides termly written reports that outline agreed development priorities and progress in relation to the quality of teaching and learning. The association has recently implemented new reports that should more deliberately focus on outcomes for children, teacher and leader performance. ERO's evaluation affirms this development.

Children have some opportunities to learn about Aotearoa New Zealand’s dual cultural heritage. Teachers and leaders acknowledge that they need to build their capability to be responsive to Māori children’s culture, language and identities. This development should include establishing relationships with mana whenua and making use of Ministry of Education resources such as,Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013-2017 and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners.

Team work is developing and ongoing support for leadership is in place. The 2012 ERO report identified that the association needed to improve the appraisal processes. These continue to require strengthening. A recently revised appraisal model, yet to be implemented, includes: more focused goals that build teacher and leader capability; more regular and targeted feedback and feed forward about teaching practice; and clearer links with the Registered Teacher Criteria.

Key Next Steps

The senior teacher, head teacher, staff and ERO agree that key next steps are to:

  • strengthen the assessment and evaluation of children’s learning
  • further develop self-review practices
  • continue to develop the bicultural curriculum
  • continue to support leadership development.

At association level, the senior management team of He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua should continue to further improve processes for growing and developing the practice of teachers, head teachers and the senior teachers, including:

  • improvements to the quality and monitoring of processes to support individual kindergartens and regular implementation of a robust appraisal system
  • building teachers’ capability to be more responsive to Māori children’s culture, language and identity.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Discovery 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.

ERO identified the following areas of non-compliance:

  • the service provider must take all reasonable steps to ensure that at least one toilet for use by children is designed to provide them with some sense of privacy
  • the service provider must take all reasonable steps to ensure the requirements of the Privacy Act 1993 are met in relation to information about children and the parents/caregivers of those children who attend the service.Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, PF22 Privacy Act 1993, principle 5

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

5 June 2015

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, aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 36,

Boys 33

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





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

March 2015

Date of this report

5 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

These are available at

Education Review

June 2012


Education Review

April 2008


Education Review

August 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.