Fossil Bay Kindergarten - 03/05/2019

1 Evaluation of Fossil Bay Kindergarten

How well placed is Fossil Bay Kindergarten to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Fossil Bay Kindergarten is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Fossil Bay Kindergarten on Waiheke Island provides education and care for up to 44 children from three to six years of age. The kindergarten operates in two age-related groups in rooms designed to promote the Rudolf Steiner educational philosophy. Children have ready access to a large outdoor area.

The kindergarten is governed by the Waiheke Island Rudolph Steiner Education Trust. The trust is responsible for the land, buildings and resources. It delegates day-to-day management of the kindergarten to the centre manager. Two qualified teachers and teaching assistants have responsibility for the children’s care routines and learning programmes. The kindergarten also benefits from volunteers who have many years of experience in Steiner education.

In 2017 the trust opened a Rudolph Steiner primary school adjacent to the kindergarten. The trust also operates a weekly playgroup in the kindergarten's licensed premises, for children under the age of three and their parents.

The kindergarten has a positive ERO reporting history. ERO's 2014 report identified many very good quality practices. Next steps for the service were to enhance partnerships with whānau, and increase the visibility of Māori and Pacific cultures in programmes.

The Review Findings

Children are highly engaged in play and well supported to be confident and competent learners. They show resilience, self-care skills and a high level of independence.

Children confidently make decisions about their play. They negotiate with their peers, are respectful and play collaboratively. They initiate conversations and ask questions. As a result, children successfully interact and support each other’s play.

Teachers actively listen to children, extend children’s play, and allow children to lead their own learning at their own pace. They are unobtrusive and unhurried in their responses to children’s curiosity. Teachers encourage children to use their imagination and creativity to problem solve and explore new learnings.

The rich, natural outdoor environment supports children’s learning and wellbeing very well. It enables children to develop their physical skills without interference. Teachers encourage children to accept physical challenges and take risks. The indoor learning environment could be enhanced, especially for the older children, if children were able to access all the licensed space.

The curriculum is developed from seasonal rhythms and responds to children’s experiences. Cultural diversity is valued and celebrated in the kindergarten. Children’s cultures and languages are reflected in the learning programme. Their first languages are valued and often used to support their learning. The bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand is prominent. Te reo and tikanga Māori are integrated thoughtfully in the programme.

Comprehensive planning and assessment practices help teachers provide a curriculum that is relevant for children and their families. These approaches reference Te Whāriki, the 2017 revised early childhood curriculum, and focus clearly on children's learning outcomes. Individual 'learning journey' books record children’s participation in the programme, mainly through group stories. Teachers agree that a greater focus on capturing the individual child’s learning journey through these stories would be beneficial.

Leadership is shared across the kindergarten. High levels of relational trust and collaborative ways of working are fostered. Parents, staff and children are seen as equal partners and participants in the kindergarten. Staff have a strong commitment to the philosophy, vision and goals of the service. The philosophy is deeply embedded and guides all behaviours, practices and decisions.

Teachers benefit from regular professional learning in the wider NZ Steiner and environmental communities. Performance management systems could be strengthened by including a teacher in the process who holds a full practising certificate, and who supports 'teaching as inquiry'. This person could also help to monitor the Teaching Council requirements in relation to practising certificates.

Internal evaluation is used well as a catalyst for ongoing development and improvement. The kindergarten has good systems and processes for health and safety management. The annual plan clearly identifies priorities for day-to-day management. A stronger annual plan focus on curriculum development would help the trust board to monitor progress towards their educational priorities.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps are to:

  • review the use of the licensed space to support learning opportunities for the older children

  • continue to develop effective processes for recording the individual child's learning journey

  • increase the professional rigour of appraisal processes

  • ensure that the kindergarten's annual plan includes priorities for ongoing curriculum development.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Fossil Bay Kindergarten 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.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

3 May 2019

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


Waiheke Island, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

44 children over 2 years of age

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 15 Boys 15

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2019

Date of this report

3 May 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 2014

Education Review

April 2011

Education Review

April 2008

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.