Little Owls Preschool - 11/12/2017

1 Evaluation of Little Owls Preschool

How well placed is Little Owls Preschool to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

The intensive work undertaken by leaders and teachers and the improvements made to lift the quality of the services' programmes, practices and management systems now make the service well placed to promote and sustain positive outcomes for children.

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


Little Owls Preschool operates under the umbrella of St John of God Hauora Trust and is located in east Christchurch. It provides education and care in two separate areas for up to 55 children aged from birth to school age. The nursery provides for babies and toddlers up to two years of age. The preschool is a mixed-age group for the older children. Families come from diverse backgrounds. Around 20% of children identify as Māori. The service has responded to families' requirements by increasing the hours of operation.

The service is governed by the St John of God Hauora Trust. The Little Owls Preschool manager is responsible for the daily operations of the service and is assisted by two head teachers. Almost all the staff are qualified early childhood teachers.

The July 2015 ERO report identified that the service required further development in a number of areas to promote positive outcomes for children. After the previous review, the service received intensive support from the Ministry of Education and other professional development providers. The service has made very good progress in making improvements in all the identified areas.

The Review Findings

Children and their families benefit from caring, supportive relationships with teachers. This is evident in the way teachers:

  • have meaningful learning-centred conversations with children

  • skilfully support children to develop social skills

  • show genuine concern for their wellbeing.

Teachers provide additional support where needed through referring to relevant agencies or access to financial support.

Infants and toddlers are well provided for. They play and learn in a calm, settled environment where there is an unhurried pace. Teachers are attuned to children's individual requirements and deliberately foster their emerging language skills. They provide a range of interesting resources and activities for children.

Older children's learning is supported by a programme that is based on teachers noticing, recognising and responding to children's individual strengths and interests. The outdoor area provides choice and challenge and fosters children's physical development.

Te reo and tikanga Māori are becoming more embedded and visible in the programme. A bicultural team leader has been appointed and is helping teachers to become more knowledgeable and confident in this area of the curriculum. Parents now have better opportunities to share their cultural identity and home languages. Children's and whānau sense of belonging in the service has increased. The leaders identified, and ERO agrees, that this work needs to be continued to strengthen and deepen.

The leaders and teachers have made significant progress in developing systems and processes for planning for individual children's learning. Head teachers have developed clear indicators for monitoring the quality of teachers' assessments and provide useful feedback to teachers about their work. A next step is for teachers to find ways to better record the conversations they have with parents about their wishes for their children's learning, and show how they respond to these. They also need to show how they respond to children's language, culture and identity.

The service does not currently have a system for group programme planning. The leaders identified that it is timely to now give consideration to developing a system for programme planning that allows them to intentionally implement curriculum priorities and the service's desired outcomes for children as identified in the vision and philosophy statements. When the centre philosophy is next reviewed it needs to be further developed to more clearly state the service's desired outcomes for children and show their commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.

The leadership team work well together and have taken a considered approach to managing change and making improvements. Organisational factors have helped support a positive culture within the team and shared understandings about the direction of the service. This includes a well implemented and monitored strategic plan and clear roles and responsibilities within the team.

There are useful guidelines and processes for internal evaluation but these are in the early stages of being implemented.

The St John of God Hauora Trust provide strong support, and commitment to the service.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for leaders and teachers to improve outcomes for children are to:

  • deepen partnerships with parents in their children's learning

  • continue to strengthen bicultural programmes and practices

  • develop curriculum planning to ensure the service's desired outcomes for all children's learning are met

  • embed effective internal evaluation practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Owls Preschool 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.

To improve current practice, service leaders should customise the St John of God Hauora Trust's appraisal procedures to better reflect the requirements of the early childhood service. This includes guidelines for expectations of teaching practice observations and developing specific goals and next steps for teacher development.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Little Owls Preschool will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

11 December 2017

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

55 children, including up to 17 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 33

Boys: 25

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

October 2017

Date of this report

11 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

July 2015

Education Review

April 2012

Education Review

December 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.