Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre - 28/06/2018

1 Evaluation of Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre 

How well placed is Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre needs external support to review many aspects of centre operations.

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre is licensed to provide education and care for 30 children including up to eight aged under two years. Children attend full days similar to school hours, and most are from Pacific or Māori cultural backgrounds. All children share the same indoor and outdoor play areas.

The teaching philosophy of the service is underpinned by respectful relationships, and promotes Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Teachers are committed to providing meaningful learning opportunities for children of Pacific Island heritage and their fanau.

The head teacher leads a team of three other qualified teachers and a number of untrained relievers. The Pacific Island Charitable Development Trust provides governance support for the service. One of the trustees holds the position of licensee and oversees the running of the centre.

This is the service's first ERO review.

The Review Findings

Children are relaxed and busy. They have a sense of belonging in the centre and make choices about their play. Friendships are evident amongst the children and they are well supported by teachers to develop social competence.

Teachers have positive, supportive interactions with children. They are calm and respectful in their approach and know children and their fanau well. The morning routine includes masu (or lotu) where the music, dance and languages of the Pacific feature highly. The children obviously enjoy this time and participate fully. Parents and fanau often stay for this ritual and to share morning tea.

Infants and toddlers share the play spaces with the older children. Teachers should reflect on how effectively the programme supports the learning, and health and safety, of these young children.

The centre occupies a block of disused classrooms in the Sunset Primary School grounds. The indoor play area is spacious and well maintained. Attractive wall displays celebrate the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands. Serious consideration now needs to be given to resourcing this space so that it more effectively engages children and encourages their critical thinking, wondering and creativity.

The outdoor play area is also extensive. This space is in need of considerable redevelopment to provide a varied range of physical challenges suitable for the age of the enrolled children, and opportunities for them to explore.

Assessment portfolios record children's participation in the programme. The service's curriculum does not explicitly identify or respond to the learning interests, strengths and capabilities of enrolled children. A process of programme planning needs to be established to help teachers develop shared understandings of their role in bringing complexity to children's learning. Programme plans need to be documented and the teaching programme evaluated.

The purpose of internal evaluation is understood by centre leaders, but there needs to be further development in order to become more evaluative. An in-depth review of bicultural practice could support teachers to develop deeper understandings of te ao Māori perspectives, and how these could be successfully woven through the programme.

Strategic and annual planning needs to be aligned to support the achievement of the service's strategic goals and to guide centre development.

Key Next Steps

In order to improve the current provision for children's learning, teachers need to fully implement the Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Services 2008. Key next steps are for centre leaders and teachers to:

  • plan, implement and evaluate an appropriate curriculum for children based on their interests, strengths, abilities and needs

  • strengthen the centre's bicultural practice

  • develop and implement robust evaluation processes to guide the ongoing review of all aspects of the service's operations and practice, and how well they impact on positive outcomes for children

rationalise the framework of policies and procedures to ensure documentation and practices meet with current legislation, and establish an ongoing system of policy review.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Essence of the Pacific 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

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to the service's curriculum. To meet requirements teachers must plan, implement and evaluate programmes based on Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Programmes should:

  • respond to the learning interests, strengths and capabilities of enrolled children

  • respect and acknowledge the aspirations of parents, family, and whānau

  • acknowledge and reflect the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua.

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, Regulation 43, Curriculum Standard: general, 1(a) (i), (v), (vi).

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre will be within two years.

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

28 June 2018

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 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 11 Girls 8

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

May 2018

Date of this report

28 June 2018

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.