Little Sparks Educare - 22/05/2018

1 Evaluation of Little Sparks Educare

How well placed is Little Sparks Educare 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 Sparks Educare is located in Pukekohe. The centre is licensed to provide full-day education and care for 38 children including 12 up to the age of two years. At the time of this review the centre's multicultural roll of 42 included 21 children of Māori descent. Currently the centre is operating two age-based rooms.

Since the previous ERO review in 2014 the centre has had two changes of ownership with the current owners taking possession in October 2017. There has been some changes to the teaching team but a core group of staff have remained the same. The new owners undertake the roles of centre director and centre manager and they provide overall professional leadership for centre operations and curriculum development.

The centre's philosophy has been recently reviewed and makes a commitment to positive relationships with parents, whānau, children and staff. An emphasis is placed on valuing and honouring parent aspirations and supporting these through providing quality education and care. They aim to give children the skills and opportunities to be inquisitive explorers who develop resilience. The centre believes every child is unique and on their own journey of learning.

The Review Findings

The centre is well managed. The manager and director have worked collaboratively to prioritise and improve centre systems and policy review since taking ownership in late 2017. They have high expectations and have implemented effective internal evaluation processes to manage change and improvement. Management agrees there is a need to continue with the cycle of policy review and implementation of the strategic plan to further improve outcomes for children.

Children’s care and learning needs are well supported by teachers. They have developed warm, respectful relationships with children and know their families well. There are opportunities for creative and sustained play with aspects of literacy and mathematics naturally integrated. Children are supported and encouraged to share and play collaboratively. The programme planning has recently been reviewed and is supporting teachers to grow in confidence to place more emphasis on noticing, recognising and responding to children’s strengths and interests. This focus needs to continue until teachers are more knowledgeable about planning to show children’s learning and progress over time. Children with identified special needs are appropriately catered for within the inclusive centre environment.

The centre’s curriculum is responsive to Māori and other children’s language, culture and identity. There is an increasing focus on purposefully integrating children’s cultures into the curriculum. This has included special celebration days that have provided opportunities for parental input and support. Leaders and teachers continue to place priority on improving their confidence and knowledge with te reo and tikanga Māori. There is a strong sense of belonging for children and their families within this culturally diverse community.

Infants and toddlers benefit from caring and nurturing relationships with their teachers. They are well-supported in a learning environment that is settled and calm. Resources are appropriate and easily accessed by children. The positive relationships between parents and teachers supports a sense of wellbeing and belonging for babies and very young children.

Centre personnel effectively communicate with parents. There are a range of ways parents can be informed about their children’s learning and care. Parents spoken to by ERO appreciate the open door policy and the willingness of staff to share information about learning, daily events and the way they can support their child at home. Children benefit from these positive partnerships about care and learning.

The centre manager is knowledgeable and well informed. She is well respected and has developed strong relationships with teachers, children and their families. The centre manager is focused on developing teacher strength and capability to improve curriculum and teaching practices. In addition strengthening leadership skills of teachers will support the centre manager in her role. There is a planned approach to this development that includes appropriate external support. Well-considered leadership provides valued support for teachers and contributes to the centre's positive and calm environment for children.

Key Next Steps

In order to improve outcomes for children the centre manager and director should continue to place high priority on:

  • full implementation of the reviewed appraisal system to meet Education Council guidelines and expectations

  • strengthening leadership across the centre to maximise teacher knowledge and expertise

  • curriculum development and teaching practices particularly for older children

  • centre-wide provision of high quality resources to support children's learning and engagement.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Sparks Educare 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 Sparks Educare will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

22 May 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

38 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 22

Girls 20

Ethnic composition

Other Pacific


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

April 2018

Date of this report

22 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2014

Education Review

June 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.