Halfway Bush Kindergarten - 06/11/2015

1 Evaluation of Halfway Bush Kindergarten

How well placed is Halfway Bush Kindergarten 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.


Halfway Bush Kindergarten provides education and care for children from two-years old to school age. It is open for school-day hours. Some of the younger children go home at lunchtime. Thirty children attend in the morning and twenty in the afternoon. The older children at the kindergarten take part in a weekly forest programme which takes them into the nearby bush and hills.

An enthusiastic parent committee supports the kindergarten with fundraising and improvements. All the teachers are qualified. The teachers are continuing to work on the recommendations of the 2012 ERO report.

The kindergarten operates under the Dunedin Kindergartens (DK) Association. DK provides management and professional support for the teachers. This review was part of a cluster of 24 kindergarten reviews in the DK.

The Review Findings

The children benefit from warm and trusting relationships with their teachers. The teachers have developed a philosophy which clearly outlines priorities for children’s learning. They emphasise children becoming independent and connecting with nature.

The forest programme is a special feature of this kindergarten. Twenty children go on weekly excursions into the natural world. The teachers use these excursions in a purposeful way. They foster important learning for children around exploration of the world and their own capabilities, learning how to judge what is safe, and growing confidence and leadership. The forest trips also strengthen relationships with parents and whānau. Māori perspectives are embraced through valuing the natural world and making connections with the local landscape. 

The teachers focus on building children’s oral language abilities. They use photo books of children in the forest, for example, as a prompt for conversations with children to support their oral language development. ERO observed some very good interactions between children and teachers. In these interactions teachers were responsive, built on children’s interests, and supported their language skills. A review of interactions may assist teachers to bring more consistent quality to their practice.

Children take part in worthwhile real-life activities at the kindergarten, like gardening and preparing food. Children even helped with concreting when when the playground was redeveloped. The teachers are continuing to adapt their programme and environment to having more two-year olds attending. They have made changes to enable young children to be more independent, and encourage the older children to help the younger ones.

The teachers recently reviewed the way te ao Māori was represented in the kindergarten environment. This led them to update their resources to give a fuller reflection of the Māori world. Children and teachers use some te reo Māori through the day and take part in Mātariki and Polyfest celebrations. A next step is for teachers to show more clearly how they value children’s culture and identity through the records of learning.

The teachers’ group plans pay particular attention to aspects of the kindergarten philosophy. Teachers gather information from parents about their children in a variety of ways that are mostly informal. A more formal approach would help teachers to work with parents to decide on specific learning goals for children and then plan how they might achieve these. In the best cases, children’s profile books show children’s progress over time. A system for monitoring the quality of these would help teachers turn best practice into common practice.

Teachers work collaboratively and have frequent discussions with the aim of making improvements. They value each other’s strengths and are open to new ideas. They use professional learning effectively to develop the programme and reflect on their practice.

The teachers have identified goals for the future development of the kindergarten. They work on these with the support of the parent committee. It would be helpful to detail the steps to achieve these goals and develop systems to monitor progress. The teachers have a useful framework for self review. Reviews have brought about some positive changes at the kindergarten.

The vision of the DK is to provide excellence in early childhood education for all children. The DK is governed by a board and managed by a long-serving general manager. The kindergarten teachers told ERO they appreciated the support they receive from the association and the advice and guidance of the senior teachers.

The board, general manager and senior teachers:

  • provide appropriate opportunities for parents and staff to contribute their ideas about matters in the association
  • are responsive to identified needs of children and families within the association and provide funding and support to enable these to be met
  • have developed a useful framework to guide their work
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure safe environments for children, teachers and staff
  • maintain their professional learning and provide ongoing professional learning for teachers in the association.

Key Next Steps

The head teacher with the support of the senior teacher needs to lead her team to:

  • continue to enrich children’s learning and the programme through more meaningful partnerships with all parents
  • consistently document children’s progress in records of learning
  • strengthen the evaluation of their teaching strategies and children’s learning.

They should also:

  • continue to build their understanding of effective self review and the use of indicators
  • develop a self-review schedule to ensure all matters that significantly impact on children’s learning and wellbeing are reviewed regularly over time, including the quality of interactions
  • detail actions and monitor progress in their long-term plan.

Next steps for the board, with the support of the general manager and senior teachers, are to:

  • continue to define what excellence in education looks like in the DK
  • further develop strategic planning to better show future goals and priorities and how these will be achieved in the association and in the kindergartens
  • ensure that the reports they receive are evaluative, show how well the DK’s vision and goals are met, and inform future planning
  • continue to strengthen the appraisal process and be assured that appraisals are rigorous and consistent throughout the kindergartens.

With the appointment of a new senior teacher it is timely for the board and general manager to review the role of the senior teachers and strengthen systems to ensure consistently high-quality practice across all kindergartens within the DK.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Halfway Bush 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Halfway Bush Kindergarten will be in three years.

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

6 November 2015 

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

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

45 children, over two years of age

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys:     19
Girls:      16

Ethnic composition

Pacific Island


Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

Not applicable


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

6 November 2015

Most recent ERO reports


Education Review

June 2012

Education Review

November 2008

Education Review

February 2006

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.