Little Citizens Early Learning Centre - 21/10/2014

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 education and care service in South Dunedin. It operates as part of Methodist Mission Southern (The Mission). The Mission offers a range of support services to families of children enrolled at the centre. The centre operates from the same building as ‘The Hub’ which provides support services for families/whānau in the greater South Dunedin community.

The centre is licensed for 57 children. Children are provided with meals and snacks during the day. The centre’s philosophy includes building resilience for children and families. This can be seen in the way the centre and its staff operate.

The Mission managers support the operation of the centre. Almost all teachers are qualified early childhood teachers.

There have been many changes at the centre since the 2011 ERO review. Two centres have been combined on a new site. Children now play and learn in three rooms for separate age groups for part of each day. The leadership of the teaching team is taken by three senior teachers and a new family/whānau coordinator position has been established.

The centre has made continuing progress in addressing the areas for review and development identified in the 2011 ERO report.

The Review Findings

The concept of whānaungatanga is central to the way the centre operates. Children and their families have a strong sense of belonging at the centre. Teachers know the children as part of their families/whānau and the wider community. Parents are made to feel comfortable to spend time at the centre with their children. The teachers have a strong focus on supporting parents by helping them connect with other agencies and activities in the community. They regularly organise social and parent education events.

Children at the centre are able to build on their own areas of interest and enjoyment. The teachers encourage children to return to activities again and again. This gives them the chance to explore different ideas deeply over many weeks. The teachers recognise the value of letting children take risks and learn through their play.

The teachers have caring and responsive relationships with the children. ERO observed teachers talking with children in ways that effectively supported the children’s language development. The teachers have identified a group of children who need extra help around their social skills. They take a deliberate approach to building these children’s social, emotional and physical awareness and abilities.

The children’s profile books make an attractive record of what children know, understand and feel Records in children’s profiles often show progress over time. The teachers have a good understanding of a wide range of mathematical concepts. They integrate these into children’s experiences and activities throughout the day.

The teachers show very respectful and nurturing relationships with the under-two-year olds. This effectively builds these children’s feelings of security. Teachers respond quickly to children’s verbal and non-verbal cues to support their care and development. The teachers integrate music into the programme to support the development of children’s movement and language.

The new leadership team is developing ways of working together. Managers and teachers place a high priority on teachers’ ongoing professional learning and development. This is carefully targeted to the identified needs at the centre and the specific goals of teachers. The centre’s appraisal system effectively supports teachers’ development. The leaders report regularly to the Mission board on centre activities and progress towards indicators for goals that have been set.

Key Next Steps

Centre leaders and ERO agree on a number of next steps.

The teachers should continue to develop a systematic approach to planning and evaluation of children’s learning. This should include showing clearly how they respond to parents’ wishes about their children’s learning.

The teachers and leaders should review and improve the indoor and outdoor environments so they better support children in their learning.

Teachers should seek further ways to:

  • maintain Māori children’s connections to their cultural identity

  • reflect Māori perspectives of the child, the world, and their place in it.

The new leadership team should continue to clarify its roles and responsibilities and seek further ways to implement leadership in the centre.

Managers and leaders should document and implement a plan around the priorities for the centre with respect to children’s education and care. Links from this plan should be more clearly reflected in other key areas such as appraisal and self review. Managers should formally monitor the progress in achieving these priorities.

Self review should be strengthened through leaders and teachers increasing their understanding of self review. They should also develop and implement a schedule for planned reviews.

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.

During the review, ERO noted that there have been no centre-wide trial earthquake evacuations in 2014.

To meet the licensing criteria the service provider must:

1. be familiar with relevant emergency drills and regularly carry these out with the children.(Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS8.)

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.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

21 October 2014

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

57 children, including up to 15 aged under two

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 42

Girls: 31

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā







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

September 2014

Date of this report

21 October 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

September 2011


Education Review

September 2008


Education Review

July 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.