Li'l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere - 29/09/2014

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

Well placed

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Li’l Pumpkins Early Learning Tamahere is a large, privately-owned centre in a rural location south of Hamilton. The centre provides all-day education and care for babies, toddlers and children up to school age. During ERO’s last visit in 2011 the centre consisted of two separate licences that were merged together under one licence in 2012. The new licence is for 80 children including a maximum of 25 up to the age of two. At the time of this ERO review the centre’s roll of 116 included 8 children of Māori descent.

The centre is organised into two age group areas: one for babies and toddlers and another for children from 3 years to school age. There are separate spaces within these two areas to allow for age appropriate play and learning, and to provide familiarity and routines, particularly for younger children. Management endeavours to maintain consistent staffing in each of these areas so that there is continuity for children, and to allow strong reciprocal relationships to be established.

The Reggio Emilia approach to care and education continues to influence practice. The philosophy is based on child-centred learning, the use of natural materials, and the environment which is structured to allow for both small and large group play.

The centre owner liaises closely with the company manager to govern and manage the centre. The company manager has overall responsibility for the day-to-day running of the centre, and is supported in this role by the two head teachers who provide leadership in the babies and toddlers, and pre-school areas.

The Review Findings

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

The centre owner works in close partnership with the company manager to provide a quality early childhood centre for the Tamahere community. She ensures that the centre maintains very good teacher-to-child ratios and a well-resourced learning environment. A useful policy framework has been developed to guide all aspects of centre operations. These policies are regularly reviewed in consultation with parents and teachers.

The knowledgeable and experienced company manager provides effective professional leadership for the centre. She is highly respected by teachers and parents. The company manager is well supported by the centre’s two head teachers. She is very supportive of staff and has accessed appropriate professional learning and development for teachers. The company manager has implemented an appropriate range of self-review processes to support ongoing centre development.

Teachers receive regular and useful feedback about their teaching practice as part of a recently reviewed appraisal process. Recently trained teachers benefit from a comprehensive advice and guidance programme provided by an experienced and knowledgeable member of the teaching team.

Children benefit from participating in a child-initiated programme that provides them with many opportunities to explore and follow their interests. Particular strengths of the programme include:

  • the effective integration of mathematics, literacy and science learning through children’s play
  • many opportunities for children to develop their creative skills in visual arts, dramatic play and music
  • frequent visits into the local and wider community
  • well-planned programmes that support children when transitioning to school
  • opportunities to explore and experience safe physical challenge.

A special feature of the centre is the spacious and well-maintained learning environments. Outdoor play spaces provide opportunities for children to interact in an environment that reflects New Zealand’s natural heritage, plant and maintain vegetable gardens, and play in large grassed areas. Children have access to an extensive range of high-quality resources and equipment. The spacious indoor areas are thoughtfully presented by teachers to support children’s emerging interests and learning.

Māori children’s sense of identity is promoted by the use of waiata and karakia. Teachers are developing their confidence in using te reo Māori with children.

Individual portfolios provide parents with a well-presented record of their child’s participation in the programme. These portfolios identify children’s learning and development during their time at the centre.

During discussions between ERO and parents of children with diverse learning and health needs, parents expressed their appreciation for the special support that their children receive, from teachers and the company manager.

Teachers’ interactions and relationships with children are respectful and affirming. They use a wide range of effective strategies that promote children’s oral language, problem solving and social skills. Teachers effectively provide for children’s care needs. Babies benefit from high levels of nurture and care provided by their teachers. Some teachers have a strong understanding of the centre’s Reggio Emilia inspired philosophy and how this can be reflected in the centre’s programme. There is a need to develop a more consistent understanding of this philosophy for all teachers.

ERO observed high levels of sustained and meaningful play by children in calm and settled learning environments.

Key Next Steps

The next step for the centre is to provide centre-wide professional learning and development for teachers to support the consistent implementation of the centre’s philosophy. This should include a focus on further developing teacher assessment and planning practices.

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 three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

29 September 2014

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 55%

Girls 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Other European








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

August 2014

Date of this report

29 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)


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.