Hillmorton Nest - 03/09/2019

1 Evaluation of Hillmorton Nest

How well placed is Hillmorton Nest to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Hillmorton Nest is very well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Hillmorton Nest is one of four privately owned and operated centres under the umbrella of the Nest organisation. It is licensed for up to 30 children, including up to 12 under two. At the time of the review there were 51 children enrolled, 14 of whom are under two.

The centre operates out of a converted villa and caters for a diverse community. The name, 'Nest', stands for nurturing environmental, sustainable teaching, and the centre's values are ' confident, self-worth, respect, and curiosity'. There is an overarching Nest philosophy and the Hillmorton centre has collaboratively written its own teaching philosophy to align with its current practices and aspirations.

The centre has several open spaces, and children aged under two, while having a space of their own, are able to learn and play in the other spaces as well. Children move easily from indoors to outdoors.

The centre is managed by an owner/operator and a team leader. All teachers are early childhood qualified. The centre is part of an active cluster of local centres and schools.

The centre staff have taken well considered actions to address all the key next steps suggested in the 2016 ERO report.

The Review Findings

Hillmorton Nest is a welcoming, calm environment for children and their families. Children are confident to follow their interests and are engaged in their play and learning, moving easily from a solo activity to being involved with others. A wide range of adaptable resources enables children to be creative, explore, challenge themselves and develop their skills. Children play well together, showing respect for others and the environment. The outdoor area includes activities for authentic learning, such as construction, that have been initiated by the children.

The programme is highly responsive to individual interests and needs and incorporates a well-considered balance of individual and 'nest time' activities. Teachers plan collaboratively on a weekly basis, but ensure the programme is adaptable. Teachers plan specific strategies to support children's learning. They guide children in their activities to develop and extend them, particularly in relation to their goals. Learning is regularly and appropriately documented and shared with parents. A thoughtfully planned transition programme is in place to give children the confidence and skills they need to move to school.

Staff work closely with parents, using a range of methods to communicate with them and to involve them. Parent feedback is regularly sought and acted upon to inform centre operations. The diverse backgrounds of the children are recognised in the centre, and staff work with parents to incorporate home languages and customs into the centre. This is an area of ongoing development.

A considered, well informed approach to building bicultural understanding is in place. Effective links with local marae have been made and leaders and teachers continue to build their te reo and tikanga Māori knowledge to embed these authentically in centre practices.

Children up to two are well cared for by key carers. They are able to be part of the main centre but have a separate safe, calm environment suited to their needs. Teachers and parents work closely together.

The centre has been particularly proactive in responding to some children with additional health needs. All staff have had additional training to fully support these children and ensure they are able to participate in the full centre programme.

The centre is very well led and organised. Strong leadership ensures a shared vision which underpins all centre operations, with a clear focus on improvement. Well organised, effective systems and clear expectations are in place to bring a high degree of consistency. Staff are supported to build their capability and capacity and to take responsibility through targeted and well-planned professional learning.

A well-developed system of internal evaluation is in place. This focuses on the ongoing improvement of outcomes for children and the achievement of strategic goals. Staff are highly reflective and apply a critical professional lens to all they do.

Key Next Steps

Centre staff should continue to build depth of understanding of te reo and tikanga Māori to fully embed authentic bicultural approaches to all aspects of the centre.

The language, culture and identity of all children need to be further acknowledged through the environment, programme, practices and documentation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Hillmorton Nest 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.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

3 September 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

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

24 girls, 27 boys

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


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


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

July 2019

Date of this report

3 September 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2016

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.