Little Sweethearts Montessori - Historic Village - 18/01/2018

1 Evaluation of Little Sweethearts Montessori - Historic Village

How well placed is Little Sweethearts Montessori - Historic Village 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 Sweethearts Montessori is privately owned and located within the Historic Village in central Tauranga. It is an all-day education and care centre licensed for 62 children including up to 16 under the age of two years. At the time of this review there were 63 children enrolled including seven Māori and three with additional learning needs.

The service aims to weave principles of Montessori and the strands of Te Whāriki into the programme. The centre's integrated philosophy is enacted in both indoor and outdoor areas and learning activities. The vision of Little Sweethearts is to ‘foster the creative inner force within each child that enables them to fulfil their own potential’. Children are encouraged to direct their own learning in a structured and well-prepared environment.

Since the previous ERO report in 2014 the service has been relocated to one site with provision for all age groups of children in two separate areas. These areas cater for children from 18 months to three years of age and from three to six years of age. The teaching staff have a range of early childhood education qualifications and diplomas in Montessori teaching. The centre has a positive reporting history with ERO.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from a responsive curriculum that promotes rich learning opportunities. Reciprocal and respectful relationships are formed with each child and their family. This supports a strong sense of belonging. The daily programme fosters children's self-management skills, problem solving and critical thinking. Children's rights, choices and decision making are respected, valued and guide teaching and learning. Children are encouraged to be independent and develop practical life skills that promote self-management skills and confidence.

Children’s knowledge and skills are effectively extended through intentional teaching and presentations of work cycles that regularly revisit their learning. Their oral language development is fostered through rich conversations with teachers and each other. Literacy and mathematical concepts are interwoven throughout the programme through specific learning opportunities that engage children with varying levels of challenge. Children are listened to and supported to explore the deeper meaning of their learning. They experience positive interactions and engage in learning that follows their interests.

Younger children under the age of three years have access to a high quality environment that promotes and encourages exploration. They enjoy a well-resourced environment that extends their sense of self and curiosity. Young children experience a calm, slow pace in which they have time and space to lead their learning. An inclusive environment is provided for children with additional learning needs ensuring that they fully participate in all aspects of the programme alongside their peers. All children are seen as capable, unique learners.

Individual learning plans are well-developed for each child and ongoing teacher observations show progress of learning over time. Learning stories identify the skills and dispositions that children are developing. This is clearly articulated to parents through an online system and a hard copy learning portfolios are also accessible. Transitions into, within and beyond the centre are monitored and targeted to individual needs. Children benefit from opportunities to revisit and share their learning.

Teachers are highly skilled in recognising the developmental stages of children’s learning. They use a variety of strategies to extend and maximise children's potential. An acknowledgement of tangata whenua policy makes a commitment to implementing bicultural practices. Teachers acknowledge the need to increase their confidence and integration of te reo and tikanga Māori in the daily programme for all children and making te ao Māori more explicit in the centre philosophy and curriculum. This will be particularly effective for supporting Māori learners in developing their cultural identity. In addition there is a need for teachers to make stronger connections to children from diverse cultural backgrounds that will actively foster their language, culture and identity.

Leaders have established a very positive culture in which children are valued for who they are and what they bring to their learning. Clear systems and processes provide direction for the service. The philosophy and strategic plan guide daily operations. Leaders provide strong professional development to increase teachers' capability in implementing the Montessori curriculum. Self review is improvement focused and results in positive outcomes for children. There is a need to review the centre's philosophy, programme, policies and procedures to fully reflect the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Key Next Steps

Leaders acknowledge there is a need to fully implement the newly developed appraisal process to effectively meet the requirement of the Education Council. This should include enacting the teaching as inquiry process with an emphasis on meeting the needs of priority learners.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Sweethearts Montessori - Historic Village 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 Sweethearts Montessori - Historic Village will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

18 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

62 children, including up to 16 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 30

Boys 33

Ethnic composition



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

November 2017

Date of this report

18 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review


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.