Little Oaks Pre-School - 31/05/2019

1 Evaluation of Little Oaks Pre-School

How well placed is Little Oaks Pre-School to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Little Oaks Pre-School is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Little Oaks Pre-School is privately owned and one of three early learning centres in North Canterbury owned by the same licensee. The centre provides education and care for children over the age of two up to school age. The centre also provides regular physical education sessions for children in the local community, some of whom are under the age of two.

The three centres are led by a management team consisting of two centre managers and the owner who share oversight of the services. A head teacher has overall responsibility for the day-to-day learning programme.

The service's vision and philosophy are being reviewed. The current philosophy supports the service's aspirations for children within the concept of acorn to oak tree, meaning children are supported as young people to grow into strong competent learners. Programmes are based on the Montessori philosophy, with an emphasis on respect for oneself, others and the environment.

While some progress has been made regarding the recommendations for improvement in the 2016 ERO report, most areas still require further development.

This review was one of three centres under the same ownership reviewed at this time.

The Review Findings

Positive, respectful relationships between children and teachers and across the centre are helping ensure that the environment is very supportive of children's learning. Teachers know the children well and have made good links between the centre and children’s home life. Children lead the direction of learning. They settle quickly when they arrive and engage in learning experiences for sustained periods of time, whether working alone, in small groups, with or alongside teachers. They have easy access to a wide range of activities and quality Montessori resources and equipment that have a clear learning purpose.

Teachers are responsive to children’s interests and use these to support them to achieve individual and group learning goals. The head teacher is clear about what learning is valued at the centre. Expectations for learning and behaviour are well established. Programmes that are particularly well supported include the development of children’s:

  • independence and self-help skills
  • physical skills and abilities
  • social competence, emphasizing communication skills, literacy and numeracy learning
  • sense of wellbeing and belonging within the centre and the wider community.

There is also strong evidence of tuakana teina where children proudly and confidently share their learning and effectively cooperate with others to achieve success in their work.

The service values New Zealand's bicultural heritage. Teachers are working to improve their understanding and skills in te reo and tikanga Māori. They would benefit from taking a more planned, team approach to bicultural development and the integration of Treaty of Waitangi principles. This would help to ensure that progress towards goals can be monitored and evaluated so that improvements are sustained.

Teachers are assessing the usefulness of their current assessment and planning processes, and are looking at ways to improve intentional teaching and learning records. Children with particular learning and wellbeing needs are identified and planning is put in place to support them. Teachers need to make visible how they gather and use parents' aspirations for children’s learning and show how learning intentions are shared with the team. They need to continue to develop ways to ensure children's ethnicity and culture are visible in learning stories.

Internal evaluation processes need to be more useful and effective. It would be helpful to have indicators of quality against which to measure performance and outcomes. The review schedule should identify the impact that centre practices and teaching are having on children's learning and next steps for ongoing improvement.

The service is governed and managed by a team of leaders with high expectations for teaching practice and children's learning. The owner provides high quality resources and equipment that invite children's participation and are relevant to children’s interest and learning. The managers and owner work collaboratively with the aim of establishing consistency across the service and to ensure best practice is identified and shared.

Leaders are improvement focused and have developed a range of systems and processes to support practices. A new appraisal process has recently been introduced and leaders are supporting teachers to become familiar with it.

Key Next Steps

The leaders and ERO agree that a key next step for the service is to clarify the service's vision, philosophy and key priorities for children's learning. This improvement should then be reflected across the service's strategic goals, programme planning and other relevant operations.

The service's focus on improvement would benefit from strengthened internal evaluation practices. This should help when addressing the next steps for improvement, which include:

  • assessment, programme planning and evaluation
  • the integration of Māori perspectives and bicultural practices into programmes and practices
  • continuing to embed and ensure that the new appraisal process is robust for all staff.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Oaks Pre-School 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.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services

Southern Region

31 May 2019

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

40 children, including up to 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 29, Girls 13

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


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

March 2019

Date of this report

31 May 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2016

Education Review

March 2013

Education Review

September 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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.