Little Wonders Oanaka - 19/07/2019

1 Evaluation of Little Wonders Oanaka

How well placed is Little Wonders Oanaka to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Little Wonders Oanaka is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Little Wonders Oanaka is part of the Evolve Education Group (EEG). It provides full-day education and care for up to 66 children, including 25 under two year olds. Children play and learn in three areas according to their age and readiness for the next area. Those aged over two share a large natural play area. There is a spacious separate outdoor space for infants and toddlers.

A new centre manager was appointed in late 2017. She oversees the day-to-day running of the service and is supported by leaders and the teaching teams. Most teachers are qualified early childhood teachers. The EEG regional manager, and teaching and learning manager, provide ongoing support and have oversight of the service.

Leaders, teachers and whānau have developed a guiding philosophy for the service that values 'free play as the foundation for learning and developing knowledge, skills and attitudes for life.' The philosophy states that 'free play empowers children to build relationships and adventure into the world around them.'

Good progress has been made in addressing the recommendations of the 2015 ERO report. This includes redeveloping the centre philosophy and creating a useful strategic plan.

The Review Findings

A collaboratively developed philosophy and clearly defined learning priorities guide the service's direction. The key priorities of relationships, empowerment and adventure underpin the programme and are prominent in practice. They are evident in the way children:

  • take part in decision making

  • care for themselves and learn with and alongside others

  • make connecting links with the family and the wider community

  • become increasingly capable of moving confidently and challenging themselves physically

  • learn strategies for active exploration, thinking and reasoning.

Children's learning is enhanced by a broad curriculum based on Te Whāriki (2017) The Early Childhood Curriculum. Teachers' knowledge of early childhood theory and practice and their thoughtful approach ensures that children of all ages are well provided for. This includes:

  • a calm and purposeful programme for infants and toddlers

  • environments where children lead their learning and play

  • very good support for children with diverse needs

  • smooth transitions into and within the centre.

There are suitable systems in place for regularly assessing, planning and evaluating the learning for groups of children and individuals.

Leaders and teachers are promoting positive outcomes for children. There is relational trust between them and whānau and their children. They regularly seek whānau input into aspects of the service's operation and their wishes for their children's learning. As a result children and their whānau show a strong sense of belonging to the service.

Leaders and teachers have identified that implementing Treaty-based practice is an area for ongoing development. Recently they have increased their awareness and are building greater confidence in including Treaty-based practice in all aspects of operations. They are finding ways to engage meaningfully with Māori whānau to seek their cultural aspirations for their children.

The centre manager, leaders and teachers are improvement focused and have successfully strengthened programmes and practices. They have identified a next step is to continue to build effective internal evaluation practice and apply evaluative thinking to all aspects of the service's operation. They are implementing a strengthened appraisal system to further build the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

The service is well managed. This includes systems for monitoring health and safety, and ongoing support from EEG managers.

Key Next Steps

EEG managers, the centre manager and leaders have identified, and ERO's evaluation confirms, that the key next steps for the service are to:

  • make links in programmes and practices to the all the desired learning outcomes in The Early Childhood Curriculum Te Whāriki (2017)

  • strengthen the recording of intentional teaching strategies and show how these have contributed to children's learning in assessment planning and evaluation

  • continue to build Treaty-based practice

  • further develop and embed evaluative thinking in decision-making processes.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Little Wonders Oanaka 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.

Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

19 July 2019

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

66 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 46, Girls 43

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


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

May 2019

Date of this report

19 July 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

May 2016

Education Review

March 2013

Education Review

November 2009

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.