Mairtown Free Kindergarten - 10/09/2015

1. Evaluation of Mairtown Free Kindergarten

How well placed is Mairtown Free Kindergarten to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Mairtown Free Kindergarten provides high quality early childhood education that successfully promotes the wellbeing and learning of all children attending.

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


Mairtown Free Kindergarten is situated close to the town centre in Whangarei. The kindergarten draws enrolments from a wide geographical area that includes children from a variety of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. A significant number of children identify as Māori. Some children have English as an additional language.

Parents are able to choose the days or times that their children attend. The kindergarten provides four and six hour sessions for 40 children over two years of age. Parents appreciate teachers' encouragement for them to be part of the programme and many stay for long periods to play with their children. Teachers provide provocations, activities and experiences that support children’s play. Children transition into a variety of primary schools in the wider Whangarei area.

The centre’s philosophy outlines teachers' aspirations for the learning programme. It reflects teachers' commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the importance of strong relationships with families. It also provides information for parents about the curriculum including a focus on Papatūānuku (nature and sustainability).The centre operates with four registered teachers.

Mairtown Free Kindergarten has a positive ERO reporting history. Both the 2009 and 2012 ERO reports identified high quality practices aligned with philosophy goals. Teachers were committed to supporting Māori learners to succeed as Māori and self review was focused on improvement. The 2012 report encouraged teachers to embed the practice of individual teacher reflections and continue to strengthen bicultural practice. Teachers have responded well to all of these actions.

The kindergarten operates as part of the Northland Kindergarten Association. The Association provides governance, leadership and policy frameworks to meet operational and management expectations. Association personnel assist teachers to maintain good standards of health and safety and to improve the quality of educational programmes. The Association’s Pūmanawatanga Plan reflects a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and support for the development of bicultural practices across the organisation.

This review was part of a cluster of 10 kindergarten reviews in the Northland Kindergarten Association.

The Review Findings

Teachers at Mairtown Free Kindergarten continue to provide high quality programmes and promote strong community links. They are an effective team, led by a highly able leader, and share strongly held philosophical knowledge and understandings about early childhood education. This good foundation results in highly positive outcomes for children as confident and capable learners. Teachers' focus on manaaki is very evident in caring relationships and responsive programmes. Children have a sense of belonging, responsibility and wellbeing.

Teachers provide an inclusive, calm environment for children and whānau. They welcome and establish warm relationships that value whānau and children. Teachers support children effectively in their social relationships with others, based on knowledge gained through professional development. Teachers’ support of and consultation with whānau is evident in kindergarten documentation.

Teachers have a special focus on establishing practices that support success for Māori learners. Their knowledge about whānau and their connections, and shared information contributes to teachers’ support for Māori children. Māori children demonstrate their confidence as learners and leaders. Teachers are well supported by Association personnel to guide children’s learning about te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

Children's learning programmes respond to their ideas and foster their engagement in creativity, thinking and expressive language. Teachers work closely with children, inviting conversations that are rich in descriptive language and that support children's theories about how the world works. Children and teachers share responsibility for the evolving programme. This co-constructed learning engages children's enthusiasm and confidence, particularly in group investigations. Children engage in sustained complex play.

Teachers work together to implement high quality assessment and inquiry learning practices. Whānau partnerships contribute to the value of assessment. Portfolios include child and parent voice to show children’s development and successful learning over time.

The Northland Kindergarten Association provides effective governance for kindergartens. Its long-term direction focuses on making decisions to improve learning outcomes for children. Positive strategies include:

  • good support and guidance from Association personnel to improve the quality of kindergarten programmes and teaching practice, particularly the development of bicultural practices and integration of Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) into programmes in meaningful ways for children
  • effective teacher appraisal and professional learning and development that contributes to improved teacher skills, knowledge and practice, especially in supporting children’s social competence and strengthening the quality of assessment documentation
  • significant investment in property and environment upgrades to promote children’s exploration and investigation
  • a focus on distributed leadership practices amongst kindergarten teaching teams to utilise teachers’ individual and collective strengths.

Association leaders are considering ways to enhance teacher appraisal processes and systems for self review. ERO recommends that the Association strengthens systems to ensure that all health and safety requirements are being implemented.

Key Next Steps

Teachers and ERO agree that to enhance current high quality practices they should continue:

  • embedding team understanding of evaluative questioning and thinking to enhance self-review practice
  • increasing children’s access to records of the group inquiry projects.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Mairtown Free Kindergarten 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 Mairtown Free Kindergarten will be in four years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

10 September 2015

2. Information about the Early Childhood Service


Mairtown, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 27

Boys 25

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā


Cook Island Māori







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

10 September 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

These are available at

Education Review

June 2012


Education Review

March 2009


Education Review

February 2006

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.