Fern Garden Preschool & Childcare Centre - 15/06/2015

1 Evaluation of Fern Garden Preschool & Childcare Centre

How well placed is Fern Garden Preschool & Childcare 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.


Fern Garden Preschool & Childcare Centre is a privately owned service located in a modified house in the Tauranga suburb of Otumoetai. The centre provides full-day education and care for up to 40 children including eight up to the age of two years. The owner/directors bought Fern Garden in 2011 and since then have opened three other early childhood education services in Auckland. All services operate under the ‘Chrysalis Group’. The structure of the Chrysalis organisation enables the centre to benefit from shared efficiencies in administration, professional development, and teacher and leadership networks. The owner/directors maintain close communication with the centre, which is managed on site by a designated centre manager.

The philosophy of Fern Garden articulates the intention to provide children with a service where ‘care is first and foremost, followed by learning that is calm and unhurried yet filled with discovery, imagination and fun’. Key underlying themes of ‘imagination, inspiration, innovation, partnership and sustainability’ are also evident in the service’s comprehensive philosophy statement.

Most of the teachers have recognised early childhood education qualifications. The centre consistently operates at higher qualification levels for staff than the minimum as set by the Ministry of Education (MoE). Two are fully registered teachers and three are currently working towards full teacher registration status. The service is committed to maintaining teacher-child ratios that also exceed minimal MoE requirements.

The centre environment is organised into two main aged-based groups. The facilities for older children consist of several indoor play areas, a large covered outside area and an outdoor playground that includes some mature native trees. The facilities for infants and toddlers are currently being redeveloped to improve the quality of the programme and environment. This is part of a wider investment plan by the centre owner to redevelop these facilities and improve the integration with the outside environment. The service has been the recipient of a national award for the development of an on-line initiative that enables parents to share information about their child’s learning outcomes and progress using innovative technology. The centre employs a full-time cook who prepares wholesome meals and snacks for the children.

The service has made good progress in regard to the ‘agreed priorities for review and development’ that were identified in the previous ERO report in 2012.

The Review Findings

Centre leaders and teachers articulate a clear and well-defined philosophy based on continual improvement to the service for children and families. Together they have successfully raised the profile of the centre in the local community and established a stable team of dedicated teachers. Progress has also been made in managing children’s transitions to local primary schools.

Parents and families are warmly welcomed into the centre by teachers who give priority to providing children with quality education and care. Low staff turnover has enabled children to develop long-term relationships with teachers and increase their sense of belonging to the centre. As part of the drive for continual improvement, leaders and teachers are currently focused on reviewing and developing more effective and innovative ways to gather parents’ aspirations about children’s learning.

ERO observed children involved in play and exploration with and alongside peers and teachers. Teachers notice opportunities to become involved in play and engage children in learning conversations. Respectful, responsive relationships and interactions among teachers and children provide a sound foundation for teachers to extend children’s exploration and learning.

The child-initiated and child-centred programme enables children to engage in a wide range of activities and experiences that support their development as confident learners. Through programme planning processes teachers are able to provide a range of relevant activities that provide children with considerable choice about their level of involvement. Teachers have worked hard to promote te reo Māori within the programme, and the environment contains many prompts to support te reo in the centre. Practices such as karakia and regular waiata complement the culture of inclusion, acceptance and valuing what each child brings to the centre.

A wide range of equipment, resources and play spaces is well-organised to support children’s learning and development across all learning areas. A strength of the daily programme is the way children’s artistic creativity is fostered through the inclusion of a range of medium, equipment and focused teaching. The outdoor environment provides opportunities for active play and exploration.

Innovative assessment practices, including the use of a centre developed online assessment tool, enable the progress of each child’s learning to be closely tracked over time. Assessment processes also enable teachers to monitor programme coverage for individuals and assist teachers to share information with parents covering a wide range of skills, learning dispositions and competencies. Portfolios are accessible to children and families in an ongoing way, both electronically and in hard copy, enabling them to share and revisit learning. Parents are able to make contributions to these useful documents.

There are many useful opportunities for children to explore their ideas about early literacy and mathematical concepts, which are integrated into the learning programme throughout the day. A programme for older children provides four year olds with additional exposure to literacy and mathematical learning in the context of their play and ideas.

Key Next Steps

The following areas for review and development are likely to assist the way the service promotes positive outcomes for children:

  • the quality of the environment and programme for young children
  • continuing to develop the way teachers notice and respond to children’s learning through learning conversations, and documented planning and assessment.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Fern Garden Preschool & Childcare 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 Fern Garden Preschool & Childcare Centre will be in three years.

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 June 2015

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

40 children, including up to 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 29

Boys 23

Ethnic composition





Latin American


South East 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

April 2015

Date of this report

15 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2012


Education Review

April 2009

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.