Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru) - 23/02/2017

1 Evaluation of Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru)

How well placed is Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru) 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.



Children at Little Wonders Timaru play and learn in four separate rooms in a purpose-built centre. The centre is privately owned and one of a number of centres under the Little Wonders group. It is licensed for 75 children with up to 25 infants and toddlers. Children attending this centre come from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

This is the second ERO review. Since the 2013 review there has been a new centre manager, head teacher and some new staff appointed. The centre has made good progress against the recommendations identified in the 2013 report. Some areas continue to be work in progress.

The centre has recently joined the newly formed South Timaru Community of Learning.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from respectful interactions with each other and their teachers. They are settled and confident in the centre's environment and with their teachers. They are encouraged to make choices and to be independent and self managing. Children enjoy friendships with each other and play well for sustained periods of time.

Infants and toddlers are well supported in their learning and development. Their learning environment is spacious and thoughtfully arranged to ensure low stress and safety for those not yet mobile. They benefit from caring relationships and unhurried time with their teachers. Teachers' responses to children show a good understanding of how children develop and learn. Routines such as kai time are used well to support children's oral language and self-help skills.

Teachers and leaders, in consultation with parents, have redeveloped their centre philosophy to better describe their shared values and beliefs. They have identified what is most important for children to learn, and use this as a basis for daily programmes. Teachers purposefully design and resource the environment to provide children with interesting and challenging experiences.

Leaders and teachers have developed a useful centre-wide system of planning for individual and groups of children. Teachers are supported to take greater responsibility for this. Assessment, planning and evaluation could be strengthened by:

  • exploring ways to gather parents' aspirations for their children's learning and showing in planning and assessment how these are responded to
  • showing how Māori children's language, culture and identity are valued and supporting their development
  • ensuring learning stories reflect all children's cultures
  • showing continuity of learning as children move from room to room
  • developing guidelines for what effective assessment, planning and evaluation looks like.

Children hear te reo Māori, sing waiata and have recently participated in a mihi whakatau. The leaders and teachers acknowledge that integrating Māori perspectives is in the early stages of development and needs to be further developed and strengthened.

Other positive aspects of the programme that support children's learning include:

  • meaningful integration of numeracy and literacy
  • the strong emphasis on creativity and dramatic play
  • a deliberate focus on supporting children's physical development.

The new leaders have worked on building a culture of collaboration, consultation and inclusion. They have identified key priorities for development over the next three years. These include:

  • building teacher capability and professionalism
  • developing systems and practices to support positive outcomes for children
  • building relationships with the local iwi and marae.

Leaders and teachers are beginning to implement a new appraisal process. This could be more robust by ensuring regular purposeful observations, gathering evidence to show how teachers meet the Education Council requirements and showing how teachers are developing cultural competencies.

The centre's internal evaluation framework helps guide the leaders and teachers to investigate aspects of their programmes and practices. Leaders and teachers need to grow in their understanding of robust evaluation processes. This includes refining and using relevant indicators (criteria showing what good practice looks like) at all stages of the evaluation.

The Little Wonders director is focused on improving systems and processes to support the leadership and operation of the centre. He has developed a useful strategic plan to guide the future direction of the organisation and centre. This contains a strong focus on:

  • lifting pedagogical practice
  • putting in place professional advice and support
  • building leadership capabilities
  • the use of ICT to improve communication, appraisal, and health and safety. 

The next steps are to:

  • ensure that obligations to the Treaty of Waitangi partnership are evident in the strategic plan
  • make clear expectations for reporting on progress towards strategic goals.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for leaders and teachers are to:

  • further develop internal evaluation
  • improve assessment, planning and evaluation practices
  • continue to strengthen bicultural practices through deliberate planning, implementation and evaluation
  • further develop the appraisal process.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru) 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 Wonders Childcare (Timaru) will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

23 February 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

75 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 54

Boys: 43

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


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2016

Date of this report

23 February 2017

Most recent ERO report


Education Review

October 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.