Little Citizens Early Learning Centre - 21/02/2018

1 Evaluation of Little Citizens Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Little Citizens Early Learning 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.


Little Citizens Early Learning Centre is a full-day early education and care centre in South Dunedin. It operates as part of the Methodist Mission Southern (the Mission). The Mission offers a range of services to support children and their families/whānau. The centre is one of the services supported by the governance and management of the Methodist Mission.

The centre is licensed for 60 children, including 15 children up to the age of two. Approximately 20% of the children identify as Māori. There are also a number of children with Pacific heritage, New Zealand European children and children from diverse cultures and ethnicities.

Children are provided with morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The kaupapa of the mission and the centre are aligned under a shared vision; 'Change that works: Enough support and challenge for you to risk a better future.'

Two senior teachers lead the teaching team. Leaders, teachers, families/whānau and children are supported by a family/whānau coordinator. Almost all teachers are qualified early childhood teachers. Staffing has remained stable since the 2014 ERO report.

Children in the three learning areas (Kiwi for infants, Tui for toddlers up to three and a half years, and Kotuku for older children) have access to a large outdoor play space and garden. Leaders and teachers have made good progress on the areas for development and review identified in the 2014 ERO report.

The Review Findings

The concept of whanaungatanga is strongly visible at all levels of the centre and influences policy and practice. The centre staff show commitment to the enactment of whanaungatanga in meaningful ways. Children and their whānau have a strong sense of belonging. Leaders and teachers welcome parents to participate in their child's learning. The whānau coordinator works alongside teachers and children as part of a well-considered approach to strengthen the support available for whānau. There are strong connections to external agencies and expertise that enrich the education and opportunities for children and their whānau. The centre grows vegetables, and prepares fresh food on site. This is part of the service's philosophy of caring for 'the minds, hearts, bodies and spirits' of the children.

The centre philosophy, and long and short-term planning are cohesive, with a strong focus on positive outcomes for children. The philosophy includes building independence, development and fostering children's learning of skills through participation and play. There are some useful developments resulting from recent internal evaluation. These developments have increased teachers' capability in delivering a programme that is responsive to the strengths, needs and interests of children.

Children benefit from programmes that are strongly grounded in the principles and strands of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Māori children are actively engaged in their learning. Records of learning show that at enrolment, teachers seek and respond well to parents' wishes for their children's learning in relation to culture and language. Teachers need to continue to show how they value and respond to children's language, culture and identity as they progress through the centre.

Teachers are developing useful assessment, planning and evaluation systems for individual and groups of children. They deliberately focus on building children's:

  • sense of belonging

  • developing social skills

  • self regulation and independence

  • language acquisition and development

  • learning through play.

Infants benefit from the nurturing, respectful and responsive relationships they have with their teachers. They play and learn in a small-group setting where their individual needs are met and home routines are closely followed. Teachers use the early childhood curriculum and children's developmental milestones as guides for their care and programme planning.

Children with diverse learning and behaviour needs are very well supported. The teachers use professional learning to develop detailed planning. Centre staff implement specific strategies, leading to improved outcomes for these children. Children are well supported as they transition into the centre, within the centre, and as they leave for school.

A commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is evident and leaders and teachers are undertaking internal evaluation as part of developing ways to strengthen consistency in practice.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for the manager and teachers are to continue to:

  • strengthen culturally responsive practices for Māori, Pacific and other ethnic cultures

  • ensure children's language, culture and identity are consistently reflected in all levels of the centre
  • build internal-evaluation capacity.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Citizens Early Learning 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 Little Citizens Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

21 February 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

60 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 53

Boys: 47

Ethnic composition



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


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2017

Date of this report

21 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2014

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.