He Kaakano Early Learning Centre - 14/06/2017

1 Evaluation of He Kaakano Early Learning Centre

How well placed is He Kaakano Early Learning 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.


He Kaakano Early Learning Centre in Whangarei provides care and education for a maximum of 50 children, including up to 35 under two years of age. The majority of children are of Māori descent, and there is a small group of Pacific children.

The centre is governed by the board of Te Ora Hou Northland Trust Incorporated. The centre was established to provide a service for teen parents who attend He Mataariki Teen Parent School and to help them re-connect with communities, employment and higher education.

The centre's philosophy is strongly aligned with the principles of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. It focuses on love and care for children, affirming children's individuality, developing creativity and communication and providing opportunities to explore, experience and discover life through play.

The leadership team includes a centre manager and two team leaders. Six of the nine staff are fully qualified teachers. The centre has two rooms, one for children under two years of age and the other for children from two to five years old. Each room has its own spacious and attractive outdoor learning area.

The 2013 ERO report identified positive aspects, including caring and inclusive relationships, a strong sense of whānaungatanga, child-led programmes and responsive teaching practices. These features have been maintained. Next steps identified in 2013 included developing planning and assessment processes, upgrading resources, and establishing a culture that promotes ongoing improvement. Reviewing the centre's strategic direction and identifying goals for improvement were also suggested. Good progress has been made in each of these areas.

The Review Findings

Children are happy and settled. They have caring and respectful relationships with teachers and each other. Children's efforts and work are celebrated. The programme gives them time to explore and engage in learning.

Infants and toddlers enjoy a peaceful and unhurried programme. They have trusting, secure attachments with adults and happily explore their learning environment, independently choosing resources and equipment. Teachers' interactions with children are gentle and caring. They are responsive to children's cues, preferences and interests.

Teachers provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for children and their families. Settling children into the centre and transitions between rooms have been key focuses. Recent internal evaluation focused on improving the quality of transitions for infants and toddlers.

Children enjoy opportunities to learn about te ao Māori through their involvement in pōwhiri, karakia, himene and waiata. Some teachers use te reo Māori in their interactions with children. They are keen to further develop their skills in te reo.

Teachers work alongside children, including those with additional needs, to support their learning. They know children well and respect children’s space, choices and learning. Teachers should now review their use of strategies to engage children more in conversations that support language development, build social skills and challenge their thinking.

Children experience a curriculum that is increasingly based on their emerging interests. The learning programme for babies and toddlers is individualised and focuses appropriately on their developmental milestones. Teachers of older children identify common interests and learning dispositions for groups of children. They plan to provide resources, equipment and learning experiences to extend children's learning. Planning is based on the notice, recognise and respond approach.

The outdoor learning environment is attractive and stimulating for children. Teachers should review and adapt the indoor environments so that they are more stimulating, provoke children's interests and engage them in self-directed learning for longer periods.

Parents are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning at the centre. A recent evaluation focused on building learning partnerships with parents and increasing their input. Teachers provide a range of opportunities for families to participate in the programme, contribute their ideas for their children's learning, and be aware of their children’s progress. Parent and whānau involvement in philosophy reviews and in strategic planning would increase a sense of shared ownership of the centre vision and help teachers to respond to whānau aspirations.

Shared leadership is encouraged and staff work collaboratively to develop annual goals and priorities. Teachers are open to external expertise, new ideas and professional learning. They regularly reflect on their practice and show a commitment to the centre's philosophy. Centre leaders agree that building teachers' skills in critical reflection, and developing a set of indicators to review the philosophy in action are key next steps to strengthen teacher effectiveness.

Internal evaluation is planned, systematic and focused on improving outcomes for children. A statement of strategic intent and priorities and a new appraisal system were recently developed.

Key Next Steps

Agreed next steps for teachers include:

  • planning learning outcomes and deliberate teaching strategies to extend children's learning

  • evaluating the effectiveness and impact of teaching practices on children's learning

  • accessing external expertise to review all aspects of the curriculum and teaching, including the level of challenge and complexity to extend children's learning.

Agreed next steps for centre managers include:

  • accessing external expertise to develop a strategic plan, in consultation with staff and whānau to determine long-term goals for centre development

  • prioritising centre-wide professional learning for teachers, linked to strategic priorities, to improve learning outcomes for children

  • establishing a planned, strategic approach to building teachers' professional practice and collective professional capacity

  • reviewing and refining the framework for internal evaluation, and strengthening the evaluation of the effectiveness of teaching practices and their impact on learning outcomes for children

  • reviewing and adapting the appraisal system and processes, using the Education Council guidelines.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of He Kaakano Early Learning 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 He Kaakano Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Steffan Brough

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

14 June 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 


Raumanga, Whangarei

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 35 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 20 Girls 19

Ethnic composition









Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

14 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

August 2013

Education Review

August 2010

Education Review

June 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.