Kilbirnie Early Learners - 06/03/2019

1 Evaluation of Kilbirnie Early Learners

How well placed is Kilbirnie Early Learners to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Kilbirnie Early Learners requires further development to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

The centre has had significant staff and structural change. Professional leadership requires further strengthening to define shared expectations and implement curriculum priorities through building teacher capability, consistently effective practice and internal evaluation.

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


Kilbirnie Early Learners, formerly the Kilbirnie Community Creche, is a not-for-profit service adjoining the Kilbirnie Community Centre. Operating hours are currently from 8.30am – 2.30pm, Monday to Friday. Children between one and five years of age are provided for in a mixed-aged space.

The centre aims to offer an intimate, safe and nurturing environment where forming strong reciprocal relationships is paramount. Teachers' work is guided by the ‘uniqueness of the child’.

A long-serving senior teacher is responsible for the day-to-day operation. Governance and management is supported through a parent management committee, a part-time manager and an administrator.

Since the December 2014 ERO report, there have been four licence alterations to allow for operational changes in response to changing community demand. In 2018 there were substantial staffing changes and a service name change occurred.

The Review Findings

The centre environment and programme supports the focus promoted in the philosophy of children learning through self-choice. Children benefit from engaging in a mixed-age environment. There are regular opportunities for them to play alongside and support others in their learning. Children access a range of resources and spaces to follow their interests and support their engagement in play.

Teachers promote inclusive, positive social interactions. Respectful, responsive caregiving is evident. A range of learning activities is provided by teachers to engage children in play. Teachers play alongside children and sustain conversations to promote engagement and language development. Te reo Māori is heard and visible in the environment. A review of practices for children transitioning into the centre has resulted in improvements and some positive outcomes for children and their families.

The new team has recently updated the centre philosophy. Further defining curriculum priorities, in partnership with families, is an important next step. Establishing the learning that matters at this centre should help to determine indicators of quality practice and expected outcomes. This should help to guide curriculum development, promote consistent teaching practice and support internal evaluation. Curriculum development and review should be informed by Te Whāriki (2017), the early childhood curriculum and current best practice.

Teachers document children’s engagement in centre activities in individual and group learning stories. Learners’ strengths, interests and achievements are celebrated. Planning and assessment documents and wall displays provide opportunity for teachers and parents to identify individual children’s interests. A key next step is to strengthen assessment practice to improve planning for teaching and evaluation of learning. This should include:

  • more clearly identifying individuals' learning

  • providing responsive, intentional teaching strategies to extend and enrich learning for all children

  • responding to parents' aspirations for learning and to children's culture, language identity

  • showing learning complexity and progress.

Day-to-day operations are effectively managed by the senior teacher, supported by the part time manager and teaching team. Teachers are beginning to establish shared understandings of practice through reviewing guidelines and aspects of the programme.

The senior leader acknowledges the need to further build teacher capability to provide high quality education and care and consistent practice. This should include:

  • developing a shared understanding of the revised Te Whāriki (2017)

  • providing clear expectations for practice, including culturally responsive practice

  • providing regular documented feedback and next steps for teaching practice

  • supporting and monitoring the quality of assessment, planning and evaluation

  • the development of teacher inquiry

  • building leadership capability of teachers.

Some self review has occurred to develop and improve aspects of practice. A suitable framework guides this process and provides opportunity for parents to contribute their views. Developing internal evaluation to better guide decision-making and improvement is a next step.

A useful process is in place to guide appraisal. External support is provided for professional observations of teachers. Appraisal needs to be more robustly implemented to align with Teaching Council requirements and support teacher development and improvement.

There are good systems for monitoring of health and safety and policy review. There is clear documentation of committee decision-making through minutes and reporting. Strategic and management plans are used to guide operations. Ensuring planning is more targeted to emerging priorities and evaluated to show impact of actions on outcomes for learners and families, should strengthen practice.

Parent relationships are built through regular contact and information shared. The service is working to enrich parent involvement in learning and decision-making.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for this service are to:

  • clearly define curriculum priorities for children's learning, in consultation with families

  • build a shared understanding and implementation of clear expectations for effective practice

  • strengthen assessment, planning and evaluation

  • build teacher capability through strengthened professional leadership

  • further develop internal evaluation for ongoing improvement.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Kilbirnie Early Learners 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to Health and Safety. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • management of risk for any planned excursions is documented
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS17]

To improve practice the centre needs to ensure:

  • safety checking protocols for staff are consistently implemented [Vulnerable Children Act 2014].

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

6 March 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

20 children, including up to 7 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 22, Girls 9

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2019

Date of this report

6 March 2019

Most recent ERO report(s) (formerly Kilbirnie Community Creche)

Education Review

March 2012

Education Review

December 2014

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.