Helen Deem Kindergarten - 22/10/2015


1. Evaluation of Helen Deem Kindergarten

How well placed is Helen Deem 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.


Helen Deem Kindergarten is a long-established kindergarten and one of 24 operating under the Dunedin Kindergarten Association (DK). It is located in the St Clair suburb of Dunedin and provides learning experiences for up to 40 children from 8:30 in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon. Children may attend all or part of the day as their family chooses.

Children come from diverse family backgrounds and from all areas across Dunedin.

Since the June 2012 ERO review the kindergarten has moved into a new purpose-built centre. A new head teacher began in early 2014.

In its last report ERO requested an action plan to show how many areas of practice were to be improved. These areas have been addressed. The teaching team is now ready to deepen and build on what they have started.

This review was part of a cluster of 24 reviews in the Dunedin Kindergarten Association.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from an emotionally warm, welcoming and safe learning environment. Teachers want children to become confident and competent lifelong learners. To support these aims they provide a wide range of learning opportunities. These include:

  • the introduction of pets to enable children to develop empathy

  • a focus on developing early literacy and numeracy skills and understandings

  • successfully integrating literacy and numeracy into music activities

  • taking children on interesting trips into the city and local community.

Children and their families have positive relationships with the teachers. Teachers foster children’s sense of belonging and support their developing social skills. Children are confident to approach teachers and know their teachers will respond to them and affirm their efforts.

The brand new building allows children free, uninterrupted play. It has a range of well-defined spaces for many activities to occur simultaneously in. This provides children with lots of choice. The interesting and challenging outdoor area provides children with variety. This includes opportunities for exploration and caring for the kindergarten gardens.

In 2014 a high number of two-year old children attended. Teachers were very aware of the need to make changes in the programme to better provide for them while still challenging the older children appropriately. Changes to meet the differing needs were made. For example, older children have separate mat times from the younger children and older children take part in more excursions. Routines throughout the day became more flexible and responsive to children’s needs.

Teachers are currently focusing on building children’s oral language in response to an identified need. There is a strong emphasis on nursery rhymes, fairy tales and Māori legends. Children have many opportunities to hear and revisit learning, such as retelling and acting out stories and integrating art and music into story telling.

The kindergarten has achieved a Healthy Heart award. Children experience some inclusion of te reo and tikanga Māori throughout the day. Teachers should continue to grow this aspect.

Children are mostly well engaged in their play. Many have developed strong friendships with each other. ERO noted groups of children playing together for sustained periods of time.

Children’s profile books record their learning and progress. They are attractive records and are enjoyed by the children and their families. The head teacher has helped teachers to improve the frequency of entries into the books. They are now more accessible to children. Children’s learning goals are displayed for all teachers to see.

Since the arrival of the new head teacher a number of positive changes have been made. Some of these include:

  • an increased roll with a waiting list

  • the implementation of useful systems for planning and assessment

  • strategically purchasing resources to ensure the indoor and outdoor areas are very well resourced and provide materials relevant to the current learning focus

  • building a collegial teaching team

  • re-establishing a parent committee.

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 other staff

  • maintain their professional learning and provide relevant ongoing professional learning for teachers in the association.

Key Next Steps

Teachers have identified that they wish to continue to deepen partnerships with parents to strengthen children’s learning. The kindergarten philosophy is soon to be reviewed. This is a good opportunity to seek parents’ views about what is valued learning, and to ensure that the important learning is clearly reflected in the philosophy. It is also important to include reference to the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Improvements have been made to the way teachers record children’s learning and progress. A next step is for teachers, with the support of the senior teacher, to show in more detail:

  • what the intended learning is

  • how they have responded to parents’ wishes for their children

  • what children’s next learning steps might be

  • how they intend to support children in reaching their goals.

Teachers reflect on the weekly programme. These reflections could better show what children have learnt and how successfully the strategies teachers used have supported learning.

The teaching team follows a useful process and model for self review. This has been used to improve outcomes for children. There is still work to be done to strengthen this process, such as ensuring that evaluation questions are very clear and indicators are specific and relate to the question. This work needs to be supported by the senior teacher.

The teaching team needs to strengthen the newly developed strategic plan aimed at providing direction for the kindergarten. This should focus on important priorities that will improve outcomes for children. The senior teacher needs to support the teachers to understand the purpose and process for this plan.

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.

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 show how well the association’s vision and goals are met, are evaluative 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 consistent high quality practice across all kindergartens within the association.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Helen Deem 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.

While on-site, ERO noted some items on high shelves that are a potential risk to children. This needs to be addressed urgently.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Helen Deem Kindergarten will be in three years.


Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)


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

40 children, over two years of age

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 25 Girls: 24

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

Not applicable


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

22 October 2015

Most recent ERO reports

These are available at www.ero.govt.nz

Education Review

September 2012

Supplementary Review

June 2010

Education Review

March 2009

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.