Little Engines Montessori - 25/08/2016

1 Evaluation of Little Engines Montessori

How well placed is Little Engines Montessori 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 Engines Montessori is a privately owned and operated centre that provides education and care based on the principles and teachings of Dr Maria Montessori. The centre operates in a purpose-built, well designed facility that is spacious and practical. The outdoor area adjoins the playground of Grey Lynn Primary School.

Little Engines attracts families from the surrounding suburbs and is able to provide for up to 50 children over the age of two years. Children are grouped in two large classrooms and mingle freely in the outdoor area.

The owners and head teacher provide a framework of policies, procedures and operating documents to support the management and operation of the centre. The recently reviewed philosophy clearly indicates the intention of the service to support children's learning and development in a caring, respectful environment.

The Review Findings

Children and their families are warmly welcomed into the carefully and attractively arranged classrooms. Teachers take great care to display resources so that children are able to settle and easily make their own choices from the rich provision of interesting opportunities for play and learning. Children are empowered to take responsibility for themselves and others and to guide their own learning with support from teachers. As a result children are highly independent and engaged in their play.

Partnerships between teachers and children and their families are based on respect and friendliness. Teachers listen and respond to children's working theories and encourage their development through calm and pleasant conversation. Through teacher modelling, children are learning to engage in positive and responsive relationships, and friendships between children are evident.

Teachers are responsive to children's cultures, languages and identities. Teachers maintain a focus on improving bicultural awareness in children, through the use of te reo Māori, the use of displays to indicate a bicultural approach to learning and record Māori-focused celebrations. Other experiences have included visits to a local marae and the involvement of a kaumatua in aspects of the programme. Whānau with Māori heritage have been involved in presenting activities in the programme. Teachers also celebrate the languages and cultural festivals of the other children in the centre.

Children have a sense of belonging in the centre, fostered by the individual child focus in displays of photographs of themselves and their families. The child-led curriculum encourages children's sense of ownership of their learning and teachers' sustained close work with individuals extends their thinking and contribution. Children have frequent opportunities to learn about literacy, mathematics and natural science in the programme.

A close investigation of Montessori aims for children has encouraged the teachers and the owner to provide a free flow between the indoor and outdoor areas of the centre. The playground has been upgraded to provide opportunities for children to play physically and to engage with nature. Teachers provide a suitable range of resources on the covered deck space for children to investigate the Montessori-inspired resources.

The head teachers and the teaching team have developed sound assessment, planning and evaluation processes. The head teacher supports teachers to be highly reflective and to evaluate their work with children.

Management of the centre is efficient and effective. The owners have developed systems and processes to maintain high quality standards of operation. Teacher appraisals are regular and robust, and professional development linked to appraisals is evident in the strategic plan. It would be useful now for the owners to consider ways of further recognising and managing the pace of change in the centre. Teachers would benefit from more consistent time to critically reflect on their practice.

Key Next Steps

ERO supports managers' identification of their key next step as documenting the alignment and evaluation of the annual and strategic plans.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Engines Montessori 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 Engines Montessori will be in four years. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

25 August 2016 

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 


Grey Lynn, 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 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls       40
Boys      38

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

July 2016

Date of this report

25 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

July 2013

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.