Kuaotunu Kindergarten - 30/08/2018

1 Evaluation of Kuaotunu Kindergarten

How well placed is Kuaotunu 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.


Kuaotunu Kindergarten is an education and care service located in the small seaside village of Kuaotunu near Whitianga. It caters for children aged from two years to school age and is licensed for 21 children. The current roll of 22 includes a small number of Māori children. The centre operates a full-day service and is open from 8.00am to 3.00pm, five days a week.

The centre philosophy is based on Rudolf Steiner education which emphasises an holistic approach based on the natural world's rhythms. The child is seen as a complex interweaving of physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and social aspects. This philosophy operates alongside Te Whāriki, early childhood curriculum. The centre’s vision is to enable young people to go into the world with a sense of their own self, able to find direction and purpose in their lives and to contribute to society as world citizens.

The kindergarten operates under a charitable trust. A new head teacher and teacher have recently been appointed and follow a long-serving team. The previous head teacher continues to have involvement as a trustee and mentor to the centre.

In response to the previous ERO report, the centre has clarified the roles of the head teacher and trustees. Aspects of assessment remain a focus for ongoing development.

The Review Findings

The daily rhythms that guide the curriculum are highly visible and promote children’s belonging, wellbeing and sense of self. Children's oral language development is strongly supported by an emphasis on drama, storytelling and open-ended, natural resources. The uncluttered, home-like indoor environment encourages self-directed imaginative play, thinking and creativity. Foundation literacy and mathematics concepts are well integrated. Children benefit from a growing understanding of themselves as kaitiaki of their local environment through gardening, cooking and nurturing Papatuanuku. Learning portfolios, which are regularly updated by teachers, record children's involvement in centre activities. Planning, assessment and evaluation need to have a greater focus on individual children's learning.

Strong reciprocal relationships with parents, whānau and the local community enrich the centre environment and the curriculum. Māori children's success as Māori is promoted through the singing of Māori songs, karakia for kai and the incorporation of Māori concepts such as whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga. Leaders and teachers need to continue to deepen and enrich the local curriculum, in particular, children's knowledge and understanding of the local iwi and places of significance.

Teachers' relationships with children are respectful and nurturing. A wide range of effective positive guidance strategies helps children to develop their social skills. Children lead the pace and direction of their learning. Risk taking and challenge are actively facilitated in a well-designed, natural outdoor environment. Ako, whereby the teacher is sometimes the learner and the learner is sometimes the teacher, is visible. Children also learn through imitating the teachers as they carry out the routines of the day. Children play and learn in a calm, unhurried environment. Children with additional needs are supported to fully participate at their own pace.

The centre leader works collaboratively and uses the expertise of her team members to improve centre practice. There is a strong commitment to the Steiner philosophy, and to the vision and goals of the centre. A shared understanding amongst staff is promoted through effective role modelling. Leaders use a clear and well-constructed framework for self review. However, self review needs to be carried out with more rigour.

Trust members work actively and effectively as guardians of the kindergarten and stewards of the centre’s ongoing sustainability. Strategic goals focus on ongoing improvement. Policies and procedures provide a sound framework for centre operations. Trustees actively support and resource professional learning and development for teachers. The centre continues to effectively provide a Steiner-based education to its local community.

Key Next Steps

Leaders and teachers now need to:

  • strengthen their understanding of self review to deepen the impact of current review on practice and of outcomes for children
  • take a more systematic approach to recognising and responding to children's individual learning priorities, developed in collaboration with parents and whānau. Learning portfolios should be used more effectively to show progress over time in relation to these learning priorities
  • continue to deepen the local curriculum and strengthen its bicultural component with a focus on te ao Māori
  • continue to grow understanding of effective leadership for ongoing improvement of the centre.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Kuaotunu 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.

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to police vetting.

In order to address this, the centre must:

1. ensure all employees and contractors are police vetted as required.
[s319D Education Act 1989]

To improve current practice, the centre should:

2. ensure the performance management system for teachers meets all the requirements of the Education Council of New Zealand
[Part 31 Education Act 1989]

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

30 August 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

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

21 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 10 Boys 10

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

July 2018

Date of this report

30 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2014

Education Review

September 2011

Education Review

September 2008

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.