Kowhai Free Kindergarten - 27/06/2018

1 Evaluation of Kowhai Free Kindergarten

How well placed is Kowhai Free 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.


Kowhai Free Kindergarten is one of 12 kindergartens in the South Canterbury Free Kindergarten Association (SCK). It is located in south Timaru. It provides education and care for up to 40 children from two years of age for up to six hours each weekday. Nearly a quarter of the children identify as Māori.

The head teacher and two teachers are responsible for the daily operations and teaching programme in the kindergarten. A teacher aide provides support for the children and teachers to help meet identified areas of need. A senior teacher (ST) supports professional practice in the team. The SCK, including a general manager and board, oversees the governance and management of the kindergarten.

The kindergarten has made progress with all the recommendations identified in the October 2014 ERO report. This includes improved practices for assessment, planning and evaluation, strengthened appraisal and internal evaluation practices and a deeper bicultural curriculum.

This review was part of a cluster of seven reviews in the South Canterbury Free Kindergarten Association.

The Review Findings

Teachers in consultation with community members have developed a clear vision and priorities for children's learning. These are expressed as:

  • Manaakitanga - caring respectful sustainable relationships
  • Kotahitanga - children learn to work together as one
  • Whanaungatanga - children make connecting links with their community and develop ways to make sense of the world around them
  • Aroha - children learn to keep safe, and know that their potential can be realised.

Teachers are increasingly planning programmes and aligning their teaching practices to these priorities. A next step is for them to continue to explore and make visible the valued learning in each of these priorities.

Teachers, over time, are supporting children to:

  • be settled and sustained in their play
  • have a sense of belonging in the kindergarten
  • develop skills to relate well to each other and to the adults around them
  • take increasing control of their learning and to be capable, confident competent learners.

Teachers provide a wide range of experiences to support children's learning. This includes using children's interests as the starting point for learning, making use of community resources and visitors to the kindergarten, and providing meaningful early literacy and mathematics learning opportunities.

All children benefit from a bicultural curriculum. Through effective internal evaluation processes and ongoing professional learning, teachers have increased the use of te reo and ngā tikanga Māori in the programme. Assessment records show teachers value the cultural identity of all children, including tamariki Māori and their whānau. Teachers seek and respond well to parents' and whānau aspirations for their children's learning. These practices are supporting all children to be engaged in their learning.

The head teacher and teachers are effective in their support of the needs of the many diverse learners at the kindergarten. They are establishing a network of connections with community agencies that can provide support to whānau. Teachers are guided by detailed individual plans and useful strategies for those children who require additional help to support their learning. They make resourcing decisions to enable all children to participate fully in the programme.

There is strong alignment between the SCK strategic priorities and the kindergarten's priorities and plans. The board is well informed about how well each kindergarten is progressing and contributing to the strategic direction of the SCK. However, the board could know more about how well the kindergartens are improving outcomes for children and how well children are achieving in relation to the association’s valued outcomes (purpose).

The board is strongly focused on improving outcomes for all children, including taking deliberate action to support Māori and Pacific children, and children with diverse learning needs in the kindergartens. SCK leaders have developed strong networked relationships with community organisations to support children and their whānau. The next step for the board is to consider their culturally responsive practice as governors and to consult with whānau Māori to inform the future direction of SCK.

There are effective systems and processes to ensure that regulatory requirements are met within each kindergarten. Relevant professional learning, improved appraisal processes and effective ongoing coaching and mentoring by the senior teachers are building teacher capability.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for teachers, with the support of the senior teacher are to:

  • continue to unpack the curriculum priorities to clearly identify what learning is valued in the kindergarten
  • show in group and individual assessments, how well all children are progressing in relation to the curriculum priorities
  • ensure that the annual plan is evaluated to show the impact of planned actions on outcomes for children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Kowhai Free 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Kowhai Free Kindergarten will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

27 June 2018

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, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 21

Girls: 17

Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

27 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

October 2014

Education Review

June 2011

Education Review

May 2007

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.