MARC Early Learning Centre - 22/08/2019

1 Evaluation of MARC Early Learning Centre

How well placed is MARC Early Learning Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

MARC Early Learning Centre requires further development to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Teachers need to improve how they document health and safety requirements and implement curriculum assessment and planning processes. The board needs to develop long-term goals to support ongoing improvement.

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


MARC Early Learning Centre is a well-established community service. It operates in a large, converted house in the grounds of Plant & Food Research, Rangahau Ahumāra Kai.

The centre provides mixed-age, child-led programmes for up to 60 children including a maximum of 30 under two years of age. The roll is generally maintained at 50 children. Many children attending the centre have family members working at the Mt Albert Research Centre (MARC). Children, their families and teachers have diverse cultural backgrounds.

An executive board oversees the centre's operations. The board includes the head teacher, who is responsible for daily management of the centre and the teaching team. The majority of teachers are fully qualified.

The service has generally had a positive ERO reporting history. Previous ERO reports have identified areas for improvement that included assessment, planning and evaluation, and embedding Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, in practice. Strategic and annual planning, appraisal and internal evaluation also needed to be aligned and strengthened. Several of the recommendations noted in earlier ERO reports are again identified in this report.

The Review Findings

Children settle quickly at the start of the day and make decisions about where they will play. They know each other well and sometimes work collaboratively, with high levels of conversation as they explore the many activities available. Children demonstrate great enthusiasm for the gathering times for stories and food.

Parents are comfortable in the centre, often staying to read to their children before leaving. Some books in the library reflect children's home languages, including te reo Māori. Children are familiar with some kupu and waiata Māori. Teachers have identified the need to strengthen their use of te reo Māori with children. Celebrations of children's home customs and festivals enable children to gain understanding of families' diverse cultures.

There are many opportunities for children to know about and experience their local community and environment. Short excursions into the community and local bush are helping them to learn about sustainability, different environments, transition to school and community events.

The head teacher brings experience to her role. A number of the teachers have worked in the centre for some years and know the families well. Teachers discuss children's assessment records to gather team knowledge about children. They share these records through an online portal for parents. At present, there is little identification in assessment records of children's developing learning or the teachers' role in supporting learning.

The outdoor area provides opportunities for children to explore and to challenge themselves. Teachers encourage children to play outdoors and provide appropriate wet weather clothing for younger children. They could now more purposefully prompt children to set goals and manage their own developing confidence and skills in physical play.

The board follows sound meeting procedures and is well informed by the head teacher. Policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated. It would be useful for the board to develop a strategic plan that includes clear goals for development and progress. This should then guide the annual plan for the centre and align with the staff appraisal process. It would also be worthwhile for board members to evaluate the effectiveness of their work for the centre.

Teachers need to be more strongly focused on the evaluation of their professional practice in relation to outcomes for children. Engaging in deeper reflection and research could further build teachers' leadership, capability and responsibility. This includes teachers providing more active support for children's developing social competence and confidence. There is generous provision for teachers' professional learning and development.

Key Next Steps

To improve current practices, the board, head teacher and teachers should:

  • seek assistance to embed the expectations of Te Whāriki into daily practice, and to improve assessment, planning and evaluation processes

  • develop strategic planning, in relation to all aspects of centre operations, to identify future goals and inform annual planning

  • improve documentation relating to aspects of health and safety

  • establish an organisational culture that supports ongoing improvement in teaching and learning through internal evaluation and reflection.

Since the on-site phase of this ERO review, the head teacher has been proactive in seeking external support to assist the centre in addressing these next steps.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of MARC Early Learning Centre 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to governance and health and safety. To meet requirements the service needs to:

  • develop an ongoing process of self review to help the service maintain and improve the quality of education and care

  • improve documentation relating to aspects of health and safety.

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA4, 6.

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

22 August 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


Mount Albert, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

60 children, including up to 30 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 26 Girls 22

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Latin American
other ethnic groups


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

July 2019

Date of this report

22 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2016

Education Review

March 2013

Education Review

February 2010

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.