Junior Junction (The Secret Garden) - 19/12/2012

1 Evaluation of the Service

How well placed is the service to promote positive outcomes for children?

The service is developing its capacity to promote positive outcomes for children. Teachers take good care of children and are interested in promoting their learning. However, stronger professional leadership is needed to continue building staff capacity and to support sustained improvement.


Junior Junction (The Secret Garden) opened in November 2009 and this is its first ERO review. The centre is licensed for thirty children, including eight aged up to two years. It is one of six centres operated by the same owners.

The centre has had an unsettled beginning. Staff turnover has been high and the number of children enrolled has been low at times. In the middle of 2012, Junior Junction (The Secret Garden) enrolled children from another Junior Junction centre that required building repairs. This resulted in a sudden influx of new staff, children and their families. The anticipated return of the additional children and staff to their original centre is likely to again reduce The Secret Garden numbers.

The centre has head teachers for its two main teaching spaces. The two head teachers have teaching as well as day-to-day management roles. They have access to building, property management and personnel support from the owners and the organisation’s operations manager.

The Review Findings

Staff relationships with families are positive, and the partnership with parents is developing well. Parents are warmly welcomed into the centre and have good opportunities to learn about the programme provided for their children. Staff recognise New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and support Māori children to feel successful in their learning. Staff value the cultural diversity of children and The Secret Garden has a reputation for providing well for children with special educational needs.

Infants and toddlers receive good levels of care. Children are settled and seem happy and secure in the centre. Improvements made to the centre have provided infants and toddlers with a separate, enhanced learning space from which they can see the older children. They make smooth transitions from the infant and toddler area into the area for older children.

In keeping with the centre’s philosophy, teachers are intent on using the well established and attractive outdoor area to promote children’s love of nature and natural science. Teachers integrate natural resources into daily activities and use hands-on activities to motivate children’s learning. Children enjoy the extensive outdoor area, which is appropriately resourced to promote their physical activity and development.

Children confidently select materials and make decisions about their play. The younger children choose resources that interest them and are helped by teachers to participate in group or creative activities. The value of children’s play is celebrated in attractive displays around the centre. Ongoing alterations and improvements to the buildings have made the centre more family friendly and have resulted in extended play spaces and more learning opportunities for children.

The head teachers are new to their management and leadership roles. They are committed and enthusiastic, and are supporting the development of self-review and improvement processes. They have done well to steer the centre through difficult times in recent months.

Head teachers value the support they receive from the owners and the operations manager. The owners could now consider how to:

  • provide training for head teachers in their professional leadership roles, and prioritise these roles in their task descriptions and allocations of non-teaching time
  • provide stronger mentoring, coaching and professional development for teachers on best practices in early childhood education
  • ensure that teacher appraisal processes are fully implemented
  • review the centre’s complaints procedures.

The quality of the educational programmes provided for children could be strengthened considerably. ERO and head teachers agree that actions to support improvements include:

  • ensuring that programme practices fully reflect the centre’s philosophy and best practice in early childhood education
  • providing more extensive resourcing, more child-centred routines, and improved practices in programme planning, implementation and evaluation
  • having more regular, and more rich and extensive, conversations with children.


ERO recommends that the owners prepare a plan that shows parents how they will respond to the suggestions and areas for improvement identified in this report.

2 Legal Requirements

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Junior Junction (The Secret Garden) 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.

To improve current practices, managers should provide teachers with more support to provide a programme that reflects a better understanding of children’s learning and development and is consistent with current research, theory, and practices in early childhood education.

To improve current practice, and to ensure a safe working environment for staff, managers should document the ways in which they will identify and manage staff stress related to the workplace.

3 Next Review

When is ERO likely to review the early childhood service again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

19 December 2012

Information about the Early Childhood Service


Albany, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

All Day Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

50 children, including up to 10 aged under 2 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 34

Girls 24

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


South African
















Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Exceeds minimum requirements


Over 2


Exceeds minimum requirements

Review team on site

October 2012

Date of this report

19 December 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports


General Information about Early Childhood Reviews

About ERO Reviews

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the New Zealand government department that reviews schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

Review focus

ERO's education reviews in early childhood services focus on the factors that contribute to positive learning outcomes for children. ERO evaluates how well placed the service is to make and sustain improvements for the benefit of all children at the service. To reach these findings ERO considers:

  • 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 self review and partnerships with parents and whānau.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of service performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to the service.