McKenzie Centre - 18/05/2016

1 Evaluation of McKenzie Centre

How well placed is McKenzie Centre 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.


McKenzie Centre is located in Hamilton West and operates as an early intervention centre under the McKenzie Centre Trust. The trust’s mission statement is to ‘help children under six with special needs, to realise their potential by providing an early intervention service that is child-centred, play based and family/whānau focused’. The centre has a roll of 129 children including 25 who are Māori. It is licensed as an education and care service for 35 children, including up to 5 under two years. The McKenzie Centre operates all-day programmes for children and their families, who attend on one half-day a week.

Parents, whānau, caregivers attend weekly sessions with their child. Children also attend other early childhood services, where they may be assisted by an Education Support Worker employed by the McKenzie Centre Trust. A team of administration, education and health professionals, who hold a variety of relevant qualifications, work collaboratively in the best interests of children and families. The centre has had a positive ERO reporting history.

Since the 2013 ERO review the centre has renovated and extended its premises redesigned the building to improve the play and administration areas and provide direct access to the outdoor playground. The centre has accessed additional funding to offer a reception group for children who are waiting for admission to the service.

The Review Findings

McKenzie Centre includes respect and support for all members of families/whānau, including parents, caregivers, whānau and their children, as members of a larger supportive and respectful family. They benefit from accepting and caring relationships as well as the professional support and guidance provided by early intervention specialists. Parents shared their thankful appreciation of the service and its contribution to the wellbeing of their families and the growth and development of their children.

Children are highly engaged in a play-based programme where their interests are used to build on their learning. They explore alongside their parents, siblings and early intervention specialists, who work purposefully to support individual children to meet their learning goals. Children up to two are included and play happily alongside one another. Early intervention specialist provide guidance for parents and the extended family, so that they are equipped to respond to children's needs and capitalise on opportunities to promote their learning and development.

The centre is well-equipped with a range of equipment and resources that promote play and learning indoors and outdoors. Māori perspectives are included through displays, equipment and the use of waiata.

Assistive technologies are used effectively as an additional tool to support children's learning and progress.

The early intervention specialists plan an overall programme for the group. They offer opportunities to participate alongside their peers and families in a supportive way. This is designed to prepare them to participate meaningfully in everyday situations at home, in early childhood centres and the wider environment. Kai times are informal, provide social experiences and follow children's individual routines. Early intervention specialists and families emphasise healthy food, nutrition and eating. The service recognises that sensory challenges may be a cause of feeding problems for some children. Early interventions specialists have undertaken professional development to enable them to develop appropriate programmes for this condition.

Each child is assessed continuously during their time at the centre. Parents share aspects of children's identity, and a comprehensive range of effective tools is used to identify and evaluate children's strengths and learning needs. Early intervention specialists and families use this information to develop individual learning goals. These goals are shared with everyone involved with the child to establish a coordinated approach. Regular meetings are held to review the individual plan, celebrate progress and adjust the programme. These reviews include the team working with the child, the family and early childhood teachers.

Children's communication skills are a strong focus of the programme. Oral language is carefully nurtured, and there is extensive use of sign language and visual resources to support receptive and expressive language.

Children's transition into the centre is carefully planned and well-supported by the service as well as parents. The service provides extensive support for parents in their selection of an early childhood service and school, and while their children make the transition.

Leaders have a strong commitment to the values and vision of the centre. A skilled leadership team fosters a collaborative culture where everyone's input is valued. High levels of trust, critical reflection and problem-solving are evident among the team.

Leaders build and support professional practice through an effective and well-developed trans-disciplinary approach. Formal and informal opportunities are available to share information and new learning. Open, transparent and timely feedback enables staff to discuss and resolve issues as they arise. The wellbeing of each team member is recognised as important and the responsibility of all team members. Professional learning and development of teaching and other specialist skills are highly valued by centre leaders and trustees. Priority is given to opportunities that support the organisation's strategic goals and the identified learning needs of the centre's team members. Staff who attend professional learning and development share their learning with the rest of the team and support them to implement new ideas.

The McKenzie Centre Trust recruits skilled and committed trustees to govern the service effectively. Trustees consider parents as active partners in their children's learning. They recruit parent representatives as valued trustees, and meet regularly with parents to ensure that the trust's strategic direction continues to align with their needs and aspirations.

Extensive and ongoing self-review is leading to improved outcomes for children and their families, and contributes to the sustainability of the service.

Key Next Steps

ERO identifies, and the service agrees, that the following next steps need to be addressed. These are to:

  • continue to build the capability of early intervention specialists to respond to children's identity, language and culture as Māori

  • strengthen appraisal processes for registered teachers to align more closely with Education Council requirements

  • develop a regular cycle of curriculum review using Te Whāriki as a basis.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of McKenzie 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.

The centre needs to:

ensure that appraisals of staff in teaching positions by the professional leader of the service are based on the Practising Teacher Criteria established by the Education Council for the issue and renewal of teaching certificates. [Education Council Practising Teacher Criteria (Ref: Part 13 of the Education Act 1989)]

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of McKenzie Centre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

18 May 2016

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

35 children, including up to 5 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 78 Girls 51

Ethnic composition





















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


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

18 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2013

Education Review

May 2010

Education Review

July 2007

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.