First Steps Opihi - 08/05/2017

1 Evaluation of First Steps Opihi

How well placed is First Steps Opihi 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.


First Steps Opihi provides education and care for children from birth-to-six years. The service is situated in Temuka, a small rural town in South Canterbury. Since the 2014 ERO review, there has been a change in name and ownership. Country Kids was purchased by the BestStart Group and renamed Opihi First Steps. Good progress has been made on the recommendations from the 2014 ERO review. The service leaders recognise there is still further work to do in some areas.

The Review Findings

First Steps Opihi provides a warm and welcoming setting for children and their families. The service managers and teachers developed a new philosophy and a shared understanding of how this will be put into practice. The values of respect and strong community connections guide teachers' work. Parents' involvement is valued and encouraged.

Children play purposefully and cooperate respectfully with their teachers and each other. They are provided with a variety of interesting activities and experiences to support their learning. Natural materials and resources are easy for children to access and use to support creativity and enhance their play.

Children are well supported through respectful and nurturing interactions with teachers. Flexible and well-paced routines allow children to make choices and follow their own interests. The environment includes tactile and sensory resources and a separate outside area for children to explore and take risks.

Leaders and teachers provide opportunities for children to learn about Māori culture and language. They are committed to increasing their bicultural practice. There are processes in place to strengthen practice and further integrate Māori perspectives.

A strength of the centre is the careful thought given to transitions into, within and out of the centre. These transitions are well managed and support the wellbeing of parents and children. 

Centre managers and teachers work well together. Teachers have well-defined roles and responsibilities. Their planning and assessment is based on noticing and responding and is strongly focused on learning. Leaders identified that consistently implementing effective planning, assessment and evaluation is still a work in progress. Programmes support the interests and needs of the individual and groups of children.

A useful process of internal evaluation is resulting in building teachers' knowledge and capability. These would be strengthened by improving the evaluative focus (asking 'how well') and by stronger links to indicators (examples of best practice) at all stages of the evaluation.

A robust appraisal system has been introduced. A full cycle of review is yet to be completed.

The strategic plan outlines key priorities for the centre which are clearly evident in teaching practice and in the centre’s culture. BestStart managers ably assist the centre achieve the BestStart's expectations for quality and teachers in their work. These include regular monitoring and support for the quality of practice and provide regular opportunities for professional development. The on-site manager is well supported by the BestStart managers.

Key Next Steps

The BestStart managers and service leaders have identified and ERO agrees that the next steps are to:

  • regularly evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and practices on children’s learning
  • improve ways to build partnerships with families to increase a focus on children’s learning
  • develop indicators against the strategic goals to enable a process to measure quality
  • continue to develop bicultural practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of First Steps Opihi 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 First Steps Opihi will be in three years. 

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

8 May 2017

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

50 children, including up to 14 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls:      25
Boys:     39

Ethnic composition

Other ethnicities


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


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

8 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

February 2014

Education Review

April 2007

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.