Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere - 29/03/2017

1 Evaluation of Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere

How well placed is Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere 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.


Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere, located on the outskirts of Hamilton city, provides all-day education and care for children from three months to school age. This is one of two Li'l Pumpkins centres in the wider Hamilton area. The centre is licensed for 80 children, including 25 under the age of two years. The roll of 108, includes nine Māori and 15 Chinese children. The centre operates four age-based rooms some that share a common outdoor play space.

The company manager oversees both Li'l Pumpkins centres and provides ongoing support and guidance for centre supervisors. Two supervisors provide professional leadership for teachers and programme implementation.

The centre's philosophy is based on child-centred learning, the use of natural materials, and the environment that is structured to allow for both small group and large group play.

Since the previous ERO review in 2014, leadership has remained the same and there has been minimal changes to the teaching team. The centre has a positive ERO reporting history and the areas of strength identified in the previous review remain evident. In response to the key next step identified in the 2014 report teachers and leaders have undertaken a comprehensive review of assessment and planning. This has involved ongoing teacher professional learning and development.

The Review Findings

Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere is very well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Children benefit from participating in a programme that is responsive to their interests and provides them with appropriate levels of challenge. They enjoy many opportunities to lead learning and involvement in sustained play is supported by flexible, well-managed routines. Highly effective features of the programme include:

  • the meaningful integration of literacy and mathematics through play

  • many science learning opportunities

  • frequent trips and excursions into the local and wider community

  • specialist teachers of music and an oral story teller who visit the centre on a regular basis

  • a particular consideration for engaging boys in meaningful learning.

Children are able to access a wide range of high quality resources and equipment. A special feature of the centre is the spacious environments that offer opportunities for children to explore, develop physical skills, and experience challenge.

Responsive and well-planned transitions between the age-based rooms are thoughtfully implemented to support children's sense of belonging and wellbeing. They reflect each child's individual requirements and are undertaken in close consultation with families. Regular visits and close relationships with the neighbouring school support children's transition to school.

There has been considerable progress in teachers’ assessment practices. Attractively presented learning portfolios, accessible to families in digital form, identify children’s learning and development. These include comprehensive six monthly evaluations that strengthen partnerships with families. Teachers should consider how they can better recognise and acknowledge children’s language, culture and identity in portfolios.

Children up to the age of two enjoy responsive and nurturing relationships with teachers. Their oral language and literacy learning is effectively supported. Children's care needs are well catered for in consultation with parents.

Māori children’s language, culture and identity is effectively acknowledged and affirmed:

  • teachers' increasing use of te reo Māori in their interactions with children

  • regular use of waiata and karakia

  • the use of wall displays, equipment and resources that reflect te ao Māori.

Leaders and teachers have a highly inclusive approach to supporting children with special learning and behaviour needs. They access appropriate external support and guidance to assist these children and their families.

Teachers provide consistently high quality education and care for children. They have responsive and respectful relationships with children and families. Teachers use a wide range of strategies that promote children’s thinking, oral language development and social competencies. They deliberately plan and present the environment to provide activities that provoke children’s interests, problem solving skills and offer challenge. Teachers effectively acknowledge and celebrate children’s cultural diversity, including incorporating children’s first languages in their daily interactions. ERO observed teachers actively involved alongside children supporting meaningful sustained play. Effective teaching practices enhance children’s sense of themselves as successful learners.

Centre leadership is knowledgeable and well informed. The experienced supervisors are well supported by the company manager. They have a reflective approach to leadership, and are positively influenced by professional development and current research in early childhood education. 

Leaders model effective teaching practice and are highly respected by teachers and parents. They successfully focus on building teacher capability and maintaining high levels of collegiality among the teaching team. Teachers receive regular feedback about the effectiveness of practice by a designated member of the Li'l Pumpkins organisation. Effective leadership promotes high quality teaching and learning for children.

The centre owner provides supportive stewardship focussed on enhancing leadership and teaching capability. She is highly supportive of centre leaders and teachers. Generous funding is provided for teacher professional development and resources. Frequent meetings with centre leaders support her to be well informed about key aspects of centre operations, including health and safety requirements.

Well-developed and effective self-review practices support ongoing centre improvement and sustain high quality performance. These practices incorporate the perspectives of teachers, leaders and whānau. Comprehensive policies guide centre operations and a useful strategic plan informs centre improvement. More specific timeframes to assist closer monitoring and evaluation progress during the year will strengthen this plan. Well-informed stewardship supports leaders and teachers to promote positive outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

The key next step for leaders is to further develop and embed a teaching as inquiry approach to assist teachers to undertake in-depth reflection of practices in providing positive outcomes for children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere 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 Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere will be in four years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

29 March 2017 

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

80 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2017

Date of this report

29 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

September 2014

Education Review

June 2011

Education Review

November 2009

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.