Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru) - 29/04/2020

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

Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru) is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru) provides full-day education and care. It is licenced for 75 children, with up to 25 infants and toddlers. Children learn in four separate rooms according to their age. Transitions between rooms are adapted to individual children's development.

The centre's philosophy is to provide intentional teaching that responds to individual children's strengths and interests, to nurture and celebrate cultures of all children and promote bicultural practice and learning. This centre prioritises trusting relationships and collaborations with children and families (mahi tahi). It intends to provide child-led and play-based learning (takaro).

The learning priorities that guide teaching and learning are: whakawhānui pukenga tinana (extending physical skills), whaka whanaki korero (developing communication), hononga hanga (building relationships), te tuhura i ngā mahi (exploring working theories) and he tipu tikanga o te whaiaro (developing sense of self).

Since the February 2017 ERO review, the service has been sold and is now owned by the Evolve Education Group. There have been significant changes at all levels of the organisation, the most relevant to this centre are the appointment of:

  • a new area manager, who provides the mentoring and coaching for the centre manager and ensures the quality of education and care outcomes for children and families

  • a new centre manager, responsible for the day-to-day running of the centre, including ensuring the quality of learning and teaching

  • two head teachers responsible for the day-to-day learning and care of children in their rooms.

The impact of these changes has resulted in limited progress against the recommendations of the 2017 ERO report and progress not being sustained over time.

Most of the staff are qualified and registered teachers.

Little Wonders Childcare (Timaru) is a member of the North Timaru Kāhui Ako I Community of Learning.

The Review Findings

Children experience a range of interesting opportunities to learn and develop, according to the centre's learning priorities. An example of this is evidenced in learning goals for children that are informed by parents' aspirations, responsive to children's interests and needs and focused on the centre's learning priority of 'whaka whanaki korero (developing communication).

Children's independence and ability to take the initiative in their learning and communication with their peers and adults is fostered and supported through teachers' planning and their encouraging interactions with children. Relationships with children throughout the centre and with teachers and staff are positive and responsive. Teachers' capability to meet the needs of diverse learners is well supported. They use positive guidance approaches to meet the needs of children with complex needs.

Teachers and leaders are growing an understanding of bicultural practice and strengthening this across the centre. They have an increased awareness of children's language and culture. However, they are yet to respond consistently to children's culture and language or show a planned approach to providing a bicultural curriculum. These aspects could be developed further by including children's culture, language and identity in all aspects of the centre, including in assessment records. Centre leaders acknowledge that this could be further developed and strengthened.

Infants and toddlers experience well-planned opportunities to develop at their own pace. They are well supported in a caring learning environment. Teachers' interactions with older children are responsive and increase their confidence in language and learning. Centre leaders acknowledge they need to further enrich the environment for older children.

Leaders and teachers have developed a cohesive assessment and planning system for groups of children. Assessment and planning records show children's developing capabilities and the continuity of their learning as they transition between rooms but there is a need to further extend planning for individual children. To ensure consistency in practice across the centre, leaders and teachers should develop specific and intentional teaching strategies that reflect the centre's learning priorities.

The appraisal process for teachers should be consistently implemented across the centre in order continue to improve and strengthen teachers' practice and to support for children's learning.

Systems and expectations are made clear through a comprehensive and sound policy framework provided by the Evolve Education Group. This ensures that practices and systems are compliant and meet licencing requirements. These systems have been well reviewed by an area manager. The area and centre manager have worked together to address any identified areas for improvement. The internal evaluation process is in the early stages of implementation.

Key Next Steps

Leaders and teachers urgently need to address the previous ERO recommendations. They should:

  • continue to develop a shared understanding and effective use of internal evaluation at all levels, to determine what is working, what is not, and why it has or has not worked, to improve outcomes for children

  • improve assessment, planning and evaluation practices to make this practice consistent for individuals and groups

  • continue to strengthen bicultural practices across the centre, to formalise and embed what has already been developed

  • ensure the appraisal process is implemented consistently across the centre to strengthen teaching practice.

The next key step for Evolve Education Group is to ensure ongoing support for new centre leadership team in achieving positive education and care outcomes for all children. This needs to be monitored over time, through robust internal evaluation.

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.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)

Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

29 April 2020

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

Male 50, Female 38

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
South African
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

January 2020

Date of this report

29 April 2020

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

February 2017

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

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.