Dot Kids Early Learning Centre - Pahiatua - 20/03/2014

Evaluation of Dot Kids Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Dot Kids Early Learning Centre 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.


DOT Kids Early Learning Centre is a privately owned, purpose-built, full day care service situated in Pahiatua. This is its third year of operation. The centre is licensed for 30 children, with up to 20 aged over two years and 10 infants and toddlers. Daily attendance is deliberately organised to cater for 25 over two and five under two. Many of the children are from rural families in the surrounding district.

The centre philosophy recognises the importance of strong relationships with families and the desirability of nurturing each child’s uniqueness. ‘The aspirations of children, embraced by the ridge of Tararua, cleansed by the waters of Mangatainoka. This is the place where the mana of whānau and iwi whānui are acknowledged through meaningful learning opportunities.'

Staffing for 2014 consists of five, early childhood qualified teachers and two untrained teachers, one of whom is beginning a degree. During the past two years a high percentage of primary trained teachers have been included part time in rosters. Some continue to support staffing ratios as required. An owner/manager and a centre supervisor provide management expertise and lead the teaching team.

This is the centre’s first ERO report.

The Review Findings

The centre’s philosophy is very evident in practice. Children’s interests, strengths and personal experiences are reflected in the programme. Teachers plan cooperatively, sharing their knowledge of each child and their emerging interests. Decisions are flexible to respond to changing circumstances.

Group time, Ngā Tipuranga, a recent initiative, is enriching children’s learning and contributes to strong, confident relationships. The outcomes of group focus times are shared with parents via email, providing opportunities for families to further explore an interest or link to a home activity.

Individual learning stories capture rich examples of children’s development and consider how adults might contribute to next learning steps. Children’s te reo Māori learning and knowledge of tikanga Māori are also recorded. A teacher who led bicultural practice has recently left the centre. The challenge is for teachers to decide what is needed to further build their capability and to set goals accordingly.

The environment is well cared for with ample choice for play and good quality resources. Children interact happily with each other and with teachers. They show confidence and independence and are willing to try new tasks. Children persevere and sustain their interests. Teachers engage with them, but do not over organise their play. Conversations enrich children’s language and challenge them to think about possibilities.

Literacy and numeracy activities are deliberately integrated throughout the centre. Children are encouraged to explore reading, writing and numeracy in purposeful ways. Their efforts are increasingly complex and are displayed in the centre for all to share.

Children’s transition from the over two area considers and responds to their individual needs. There is a primary caregiver approach, balanced with children’s need for independence and socialisation with other adults.

Teachers demonstrate a warm, caring and individual approach to the needs of very young children. They have a quiet play space and clean, comfortable sleep room. Infants and toddlers enjoy regular contact with the older children, especially their siblings. Small milestones in development are shared through daily notebooks and conversation with parents.

At aged five, children enrol in a large number of different schools. The centre shares information with parents to assist families to move confidently into the next stage of education.

Parents and families have a strong presence in the centre. Their views are increasingly reflected in the curriculum. Parents are well-informed about their children’s learning through daily notebooks, emails, newsletters and family gatherings.

Children’s home routines are followed where possible. Family experiences are recorded and integrated with group and individual children’s learning stories. Continuity between children’s experiences at the centre and at home is well supported.

The supervisor leads an enthusiastic teaching team keen to adopt new ideas that are likely to impact positively on children. A number of initiatives such as the ‘Talking and Thinking Book’, while in the early stages, are proving successful in reflecting children’s interests through planning.

Considerable, in-depth professional learning and development (PLD) has increased managers’ and teachers’ confidence in using self review for improvement. Forward planning identifies the team’s direction for the future with ideas about how goals might be achieved.

The centre has sound policies and procedures to sustain its performance. Self review is sustained by extensive PLD and a useful framework to enhance practice.

Key Next Steps

Managers and teachers have undertaken extensive PLD to build their self-review capability. They acknowledge that they are continuing to develop their reflective practice. There are a range of well thought through documents and systems to guide planned improvement.

The next step is to draw together sections of the strategic plan and identify the key focus area for review. Linking curriculum review with teacher appraisal should help teachers to set meaningful personal and centre development goals. It should also assist teachers and managers to evaluate the results.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

20 March 2014

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

30 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 34, Girls 26

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





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 2014

Date of this report

20 March 2014

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.