Learning Steps Childcare Centre - 21/08/2015

1 Evaluation of Learning Steps Childcare Centre

How well placed is Learning Steps Childcare Centre 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.


Learning Steps Childcare Centre formerly known as Aunty Maria’s Childcare Centre Ltd. provides full day and sessional education and care for children, from 3 months to school age. The multicultural nature of the local community of Glendene in West Auckland is reflected in the children and families attending the centre. The centre caters for up to 50 children per session. This number includes 10 children less than the age of two years.

The centre has been providing services for many years. It has had repeated Supplementary ERO Reviews with the aim of encouraging improvements that would benefit children. Many teachers have been employed in the centre for long periods and this has provided a sense of stability for some parents.

The centre has recently been sold. In the month since the sale, the Ministry of Education has relicensed the service and provided advice and guidance for the new owners. A long-serving staff member took over as manager in the last year. She works closely with a team of teachers to provide education and care for the children attending the centre.

Children of different ages have designated spaces within the centre. The gates between these spaces have recently been removed to allow children to move freely between the play spaces and to interact with other children and teachers. A particular space for non-mobile infants offers a safe space for these children.

The 2012 ERO report highlighted a number of significant issues that needed to be addressed. The new owners are aware of the last ERO report and are working towards complying with all requirements.

The Review Findings

Children appear happy and content in the centre. They and their families are warmly welcomed and children are quick to settle to self-chosen activities.

Changes to Learning Steps Childcare Centre are both very new and very positive. In the month since the new owners have taken over, they have revitalised the centre environment, built sound relationships with the staff, and purchased much-needed equipment and resources. New strategic and annual planning indicates the new owners' clear intentions for a more successful future for the centre. Provisions are being put in place to meet these new strategic goals.

Children have increased opportunities to be independent and to self manage. Teachers continue to help children with tasks, but are also beginning to recognise children’s need to take responsibility and be independent. Teachers’ conversations with children are cheerful and friendly, and there is clear evidence of caring relationships with the toddlers and babies.

The recent purchase of new resources is generating children’s curiosity and exploration. This is leading to increased opportunities for children’s learning. Teachers are also beginning to build a responsive curriculum based on what they know of children’s interests. Systems for assessment and planning are in place.

Good team relationships between the staff are evident, based on trust and distributed leadership. They collaborate to ensure a smooth flow to the day and opportunities for children to experience a range of activities. The owners’ ‘ hands on’ approach to governing the centre allows teachers to feel confident about their work.

Stronger partnerships between teachers and parents are developing. Parents are comfortable about engaging the owners in conversations about their children and to contributing to the programme. The recent celebration of Matariki was a successful family-focused event.

A strength of the centre is the focus on biculturalism and te reo Māori in the programme. Teachers and children use te reo naturally in appropriate contexts and resources are beginning to reflect teachers’ commitment to supporting children’s understanding of aspects of tikanga Māori.

The owners have identified staff professional needs. They have taken action to provide professional development both externally and as internal support. All staff are enrolled in a year-long diploma course in tikanga Māori. Several staff plan to attend a positive guidance course. An external advisor has been employed to strengthen management and leadership. This support will further improve teaching and learning in the centre.

Transitions into and through the centre have become easier with the new free flow mixed age grouping. While there are quiet spaces for younger children, they are generally accepted and cared for in the larger group.

Children are starting to develop tuakana/teina relationships, caring for younger children in their play. It would be useful, however, for the owners to consider increasing staffing for the infants and toddlers. Plans are in place to develop stronger relationships with local schools. The new owners have clear understanding of the importance of play to build children’s confidence and competence before school.

Key Next Steps

The managers agree that next key steps include continuing to:

  • review and revise the centre's philosophy in collaboration with staff and parents
  • develop respectful, child-initiated play that encourages children’s ideas and planning to support and extend their interests
  • use self review processes to evaluate, revise and embed all aspects of centre management and governance
  • deliberately focus on developing children’s language skills and vocabulary.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Learning Steps Childcare Centre 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 Learning Steps Childcare Centre will be in three years.

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

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


Glendene, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

50 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 39
Girls 33

Ethnic composition

other Pacific


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

July 2015

Date of this report

21 August 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Supplementary Review (Aunty Maria's Childcare Centre)

August 2012

Supplementary Review (Aunty Maria's Childcare Centre)

August 2011

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.