Halfway Bush Kindergarten - 07/05/2019

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

Halfway Bush Kindergarten is very well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Halfway Bush Kindergarten provides early childhood education for children from two years of age. The kindergarten is licensed for up to 43 children. Children participate in half or whole-day learning programmes, from 8.30am to 2.30pm. The day-to-day operation of the kindergarten is managed by a head teacher, supported by four qualified early childhood teachers and one support staff.

The kindergarten's philosophy states that children will:

  • build friendships and relationships with others, including links with their community

  • explore nature and their local environment - become independent learners, capable of guiding their own learning, using real-life skills and tools

  • relax, play, have fun and enjoy learning in a calm, supportive and safe environment.

The philosophy also states that teachers will work in partnership with parents to achieve these things, and work within the guiding principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The kindergarten has made very good progress against the recommendations in ERO's 2015 report. Areas that have been improved include: better learning partnerships with parents; assessment, planning and evaluation of children's learning; and internal evaluation. Since the previous review, the outdoor area has been redeveloped to create greater physical challenge and better engage children.

Halfway Bush Kindergarten is one of 24 kindergartens administered by Dunedin Kindergartens (DK). A general manager oversees the association under the governance of a board. Senior teachers provide ongoing professional advice and guidance to each kindergarten on teaching and learning. This review was part of a cluster of five reviews in the DK.

The Review Findings

Caring, respectful and responsive relationships are very evident between teachers, with parents and with the children. This contributes to the strong sense of belonging that children and adults feel in the centre, and parents' willingness to share and be involved.

Children are regarded as confident and capable learners. They are supported to lead their learning, take responsibility and have choice. Older children have many opportunities to be a leader. Other curriculum strengths include early literacy (especially oral language development), dramatic play and social and emotional competence. In the forest programme, older children are encouraged to take physical risk, explore, and learn about the natural environment.

Children are very well supported in their learning. This is especially evident for children with additional learning needs. They and other children, benefit from carefully planned and supported transitions to school. Teachers work closely with external experts, parents and local schools to ensure the best outcomes for each child.

Core Māori concepts are strongly evident in relationships and in learning programmes. The concept of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is explicitly taught and children often act as tuakana teina with each other. Adults and children show a strong sense of whanaungatanga and manakitanga in their relationships with each other.

The head teacher and teachers have built strong partnerships with parents about how to support their children's learning and wellbeing. Parents are well informed and often consulted. They regularly discuss with teachers their aspirations for their child's learning and this is consistently acted on.

Teachers have developed high quality planning and assessment practices, especially for individual children. Parents, teachers and increasingly children, contribute to learning goals. Learning stories explicitly show how adults have supported children in their learning and their progress over time.

The head teacher and teachers are collaborative, reflective and improvement focused. Decisions are determined by what makes the greatest difference for children. Teachers' strengths and expertise are valued and shared, and leadership encouraged. A strong appraisal process, including deep inquiry into how to better support children, and very effective internal evaluation practices contribute to ongoing improvement.

The sound management of the kindergarten enables teachers to focus on supporting children's learning. Teachers have identified relevant strategic goals. These are kept to the fore in professional learning, teachers' inquiries and internal evaluation.

The DK board has made good progress in addressing the governance recommendations from ERO's 2015 reviews. The DK’s mission and strategic priorities are well known and reflected in each kindergarten's strategic and annual plans. The DK has a sound policy and procedure framework that provides guidance for kindergartens and sound systems to monitor health and safety. Leaders and teachers benefit from relevant professional development and leadership support. The DK actively supports equity of outcomes for all children by funding additional teaching resources to support children with additional needs.

Key Next Steps for the DK

The board have clearly identified, and ERO agrees, that the key next steps to further improve outcomes for children are to:

  • ensure that reporting and monitoring at all levels are evaluative, to clearly show how desired outcomes for children have been improved in relation to the DK’s and kindergartens’ priorities for learning and other strategic priorities

  • ensure that a robust and systematic quality assurance framework is implemented to inform and monitor ongoing improvements in each kindergarten.

Key Next Steps for Halfway Bush Kindergarten

The key next steps for Halfway Bush Kindergarten are to:

  • strengthen how children's cultures are part of children's learning and make this more visible in learning records
  • review how well resourcing in the indoor area meets the interests, strengths and needs of different groups of children, and reflects the breadth of the curriculum.

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.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

7 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

45 children, over 2 years of age

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 16, Boys 14

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2019

Date of this report

7 May 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2015

Education Review

June 2012

Education Review

November 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.