Little Ferns Childcare - 29/01/2018

1 Evaluation of Little Ferns Childcare

How well placed is Little Ferns Childcare to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Stronger systems, processes and leadership are required to support a collaborative centre-wide approach to improving teaching practice and learning outcomes for children.

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


Little Ferns Childcare provides education and care for children from birth to school age in a mixed-age group setting. The centre is licensed for 30 children, including 10 children up to two years of age. Of the 34 children enrolled, 15 identify as Māori.

The service philosophy promotes kaupapa Māori concepts of whanaungatanga, kotahitanga, tuakana/teina and ako.

A manager/owner oversees the day-to-day operation of the centre and is supported by the head teacher. Most teachers are qualified or in training.

The centre opened in 2016. This is its first ERO review.

The Review Findings

The philosophy promotes the bicultural heritage of New Zealand and underpins teacher practice. Leaders identify that it is timely to review the philosophy in partnership with whānau, to establish what the centre's priorities for children's learning are.

Māori parents' expertise supports teachers' understanding of te ao Māori. Children regularly participate in hui, karakia, waiata and the pōwhiri process. They confidently share their pepeha during group times. Leaders are focused on building teacher's use of te reo Māori and the authentic delivery of a bicultural curriculum which reflects local kawa and protocols.

Developing strong relationships with parents and whānau is a priority. Teachers proactively seek out parent aspirations and provide opportunities for them to contribute to the programme. These relationships are used as a pathway to promote educational success for Māori.

Older children engage in complex imaginary play within a child led programme. Teaching practices which challenge and extend children's thinking and learning requires further development. Increasing access to a range of resources that intentionally respond to children's interests, should enrich the learning opportunities for these learners.

Tuakana teina relationships are promoted. Infants and toddlers enthusiastically participate in the programme alongside their older peers. Their preferences to choose a key teacher is respected. Targeted professional learning and development is required to promote understanding of high quality practice for teaching and learning within the context of a mixed age group setting.

Children's learning portfolios effectively show their ongoing interests and participation in the programme. Parents have opportunities to contribute to their child's learning through an online portal. Teachers work collaboratively to notice, recognise and respond to children's interests and develop learning goals. To further improve assessment, planning and evaluation, leaders and teachers need to:

  • establish clear expectations of a planning process which reflects high quality practice

  • align intentional planning to children's identified learning goals

  • show the complexity of learning over time

  • respond more effectively to parent aspirations and children's culture, language and identity.

Self-review has contributed to some changes to systems and processes. Leaders agree that a key next step is to establish a shared understanding of internal evaluation to determine the impact of change on outcomes for children.

Key management practices require improvement to assist staff to build their teaching capability and ensure shared expectations for high quality education and care.

Key Next Steps

Systems that promote quality improvement and sustainable practice need development. These should include strengthening:

  • systems and processes that improve teaching practices and leadership

  • clear expectations for assessment and planning for children's learning

  • the programme to respond to the learning needs of all children within the context of a mixed age setting

  • internal evaluation to inform ongoing developments and improvement for children's learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Ferns Childcare 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to self review and evaluation, and curriculum. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • develop an ongoing process of internal evaluation that helps the service to maintain and improve the quality of its education and care

  • develop the practices of adults providing education and care that demonstrates an understanding of children's learning and development, and knowledge of relevant theories and practice in in early childhood education

  • improve the service curriculum to provide children with a range of experiences and opportunities to enhance and extend their learning and development-both indoors and outdoors, individually and in groups.

[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA6; C4; C9]

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Little Ferns Childcare will be within two years.

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

29 January 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


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 18, Girls 16

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


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

November 2017

Date of this report

29 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports

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.