Kowhai Childcare - 24/06/2014

1 Evaluation of Kowhai Childcare

How well placed is Kowhai Childcare 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.


Kowhai Childcare Centre is located in Rototuna, in the north of Hamilton. It operates under the governance of the Kowhai Childcare Trust. The Trust shares centre management with the Waldorf Steiner School’s (Waikato) Trust.

The centre provides education and care for children from birth to school-age-based on the Steiner philosophy. The centre operates from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm each week day. The philosophy promotes meaningful learning experiences through a play-based programme, where children are free to learn in a home-like and natural environment. Children have opportunities to play and learn in both same-age and mixed groupings during their day.

The centre consists of two buildings, called Tui Whare and Kowhai Whare, and operate parallel programmes. In 2013 the two buildings were amalgamated into one licence and now have shared leadership and management. Both services have a positive reporting history with ERO.

At the time of this ERO review the roll was 63 babies and young children. Sixteen of these identify as Maori. There are also many other cultures represented at the centre.

The Review Findings

Kowhai Childcare Centre is well placed to promote positive care and learning for children. The Steiner philosophy contributes significantly to positive and respectful relationships and to the peaceful and unhurried atmosphere. These indicators include love and warmth, gratitude, reverence and wonder, joy, humour and happiness.

The home-like environment and the importance placed on home-life experiences such as gardening, cooking and cleaning strongly promote children’s sense of belonging and wellbeing in a familiar setting.

The newly formed teaching teams, within the three age groups, work well together to provide and model experiences that support the spiritual, social and emotional development of infants, toddlers and young children. Infants and toddlers are effectively supported to explore their surroundings and develop communication skills during their time at the centre. Gentle and flexible rhythms and circle times for these age groups foster language learning, physical and spiritual connections, and respect for the natural world. ERO observed teachers promoting a useful range of Steiner approaches that engaged children in meaningful and sustained play.

In 2013, the governance board undertook a review and restructure of management and leadership over the Tui Whare and Kowhai Whare. This restructuring resulted in the appointment of a knowledgeable and experienced principal with oversight of both whare, as well as the other early childhood facilities within the Waikato Rudolf Steiner early childhood community. In addition, a highly skilled curriculum leader was appointed to support and further develop the quality of the programme and teaching practice. Together the principal and curriculum leaders have successfully strengthened:

  • management systems and practices such as strategic planning
  • effective self review and community engagement
  • links between governance and management.

Children and their families now experience a more focussed and meaningful Rudolf Steiner programme, which promotes a strong sense of community.

Key Next Steps

ERO and Centre management agree that the priorities for ongoing centre development include:

  • Further strengthening of a curriculum design and implementation that places equal priority on child initiated Te Whāriki and Steiner approaches.
  • Strengthen teachers’ knowledge, understanding and implementation of assessment, planning and evaluation practices. Information gathered through planning and evaluation is drawn together to inform further teaching practices that support children’s learning and development, both individually and within their developmental groups.
  • Stronger programme focus on the provision of language, culture and identity for Māori children as well as those of other cultures.

These priorities are necessary to ensure that more complex, purposeful and rich-language learning experiences are provided for children to extend their learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Kowhai Childcare 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 Kowhai Childcare will be in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

24 June 2014

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service


Rototuna, Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

60 children, including up to 27 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 36

Boys 27

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā

Other Asian


Cook Island Māori














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

April 2014

Date of this report

24 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)


First review under new license


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.