Early Learning Counties Manukau - Wattle Cove - 11/04/2016

1 Evaluation of Early Learning Counties Manukau - Wattle Cove

How well placed is Early Learning Counties Manukau - Wattle Cove 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.


Early Learning Counties Manukau - Wattle Cove centre in South Auckland, provides early childhood education for up to 80 children to school age, including 20 under two years of age. The centre philosophy embraces Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and the principles of Reggio Emilia. Respect for children, biculturalism and a child-initiated programme are integral to the centre's philosophy. The centre has close connections with nearby Reremoana Primary School. Teachers are using this connection to help children make smooth transitions to school.

Children are grouped in three age-related rooms. The infants and toddlers have their own outdoor play area, while the other children have a shared outdoor play area. The centre serves an increasingly diverse community. The bulk of the children enrolled have European/Pākehā and Indian heritage. Teachers are well qualified and reflect the diverse backgrounds of children and families.

Early Learning Counties Manukau - Wattle Cove (ELCM Wattle Cove) is a community-based centre that operates under and is a subsidiary of Counties Manukau Kindergarten Association (CMKA). ELCM Wattle Cove is governed by a board of directors. The centre manager provides leadership for the centre, and has responsibility for management and administration systems. The centre is supported by the CMKA with a framework of policies and procedures. The centre manager works collaboratively with staff to review and refine governance, management and administration systems and processes.

This is the second ERO review for ELCM Wattle Cove. The 2013 ERO report commented positively on the support for children to be confident and competent learners, the variety of learning experiences provided and the well-established relationships that teachers have with children and their parents. These positive features of the centre are still evident. The 2013 report also identified areas for development. These included, building learning partnerships with parents, increasing the bicultural dimension of the programme and providing more opportunities for children to lead and sustain their play. Significant progress has been made in these areas.

The Review Findings

Children have a strong sense of belonging and are happy and settled in the centre. They have respectful, responsive relationships and interactions with adults and their friends. Children know about making choices, are able to lead their own learning and independently select resources. They enjoy a programme that is unhurried and gives them time for exploration. Children are able to engage in uninterrupted play for long periods.

The centre’s environments play a powerful role in supporting children’s learning. The spacious grounds are well designed and resourced. There are plenty of natural resources and the space is used flexibly by children and adults. This creatively presented environment is attractive to children and invites investigation and exploration. It also demonstrates respect for children as capable, self-directed learners. Teachers design and redesign the environments in innovative ways to foster children’s creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Infants and toddlers have their own separate indoor and outdoor spaces. Teachers are welcoming and friendly, and promote a particularly flexible and relaxed tone for these younger children. They know children well and respond to their verbal and non-verbal cues well. This responsive and nurturing caregiving supports infants’ need for strong and secure attachments. Children’s learning and development are supported through a curriculum that is designed around their interests and engages them in play. They communicate confidently and actively explore their environment.

Teachers’ conversations with children promote children's language development, communication and thinking and reasoning skills. Teachers listen carefully to children’s ideas and make good links to children's prior knowledge. Teachers help children to take leadership roles and to share their expertise in areas of interest. Literacy, mathematical concepts, science and creativity are integrated throughout the programmes in ways that are meaningful for children. Teachers have documented clear expectations for effective teaching and learning. They strive to provide a holistic and inquiry-based approach to learning. They work with children to design learning opportunities and possibilities.

Bicultural practices are promoted. Teachers' self review since 2013 has focused on developing and strengthening teachers' understanding and knowledge of biculturalism. They are continuing to strengthen the ways that they recognise Māori as tangata whenua and promote the natural integration of te reo and tikanga Māori. The centre manager leads and models a commitment to professional development in this area.

Teachers have improved their planning to focus more on children's individual learning interests. They have good systems for noticing, recognising and responding to children's emerging interests and learning dispositions. Children's individual portfolios show very good analysis of their learning, and continuity of learning over time. The portfolios also make strong links to the educational goals of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Teachers continue to review and improve the quality and consistency of children's assessment documentation.

Parents are encouraged to be partners in their children’s learning. Teachers provide many opportunities for families to participate in the programme, contribute to reviews and be informed about their children’s progress. Children's learning is also shared with parents through wall displays and the recently established online e-portfolio programme.

The centre benefits from inclusive and collaborative leadership. The centre manager is a capable and thoughtful leader. She knows teachers well, including their strengths. Professional development for teachers is meaningful and relevant. There is a strong focus on building leadership capability and strengthening professional practice. Developing a sense of team and cohesion are key centre priorities.

Strategic and annual plans are well developed, and aligned. The plans are specifically tailored for the context and people at ELCM - Wattle Cove. The annual plan provides a comprehensive and detailed guide of the actions planned to meet strategic goals during the year. CMKA provides clear, coherent systems and processes and a sound framework for monitoring and self review. Evaluative and reflective practice is strongly evident. Self review is ongoing, collaborative, wide-ranging and rigorous. Staff use indicators well to measure progress towards improvement.

Through the centre's own self-review processes, centre leaders and ERO have identified the following priorities. Firstly, to strengthen programme evaluation to include a review of the effectiveness of teaching strategies. Secondly, to continue building consistency amongst teachers in terms of focusing on children's learning dispositions and engaging children in more complex play.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Early Learning Counties Manukau - Wattle Cove 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 Early Learning Counties Manukau - Wattle Cove will be in four years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

11 April 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


Wattle Downs, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

80 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 41 Girls 29

Ethnic composition













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 2016

Date of this report

11 April 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

January 2013

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.