Merrilands Kindergarten - 27/04/2017

1 Evaluation of Merrilands Kindergarten

How well placed is Merrilands Kindergarten 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.


Merrilands Kindergarten provides education and care for children from two to five years of age. It is open for six hours daily, five days a week and is licensed for up to 34 children. Within these hours, sessional care and education is also provided. Of the roll of 41 children, 13 identify as Māori.

The teaching team is fully qualified. There have been staff changes since the November 2013 ERO report.

The kindergarten is one of 24 governed by the newly established Kindergarten Taranaki (the association), formerly North and South Taranaki Kindergarten Associations. A Chief Executive was appointed to lead the association in 2014.

Two professional leaders (PLs) are employed by the association to provide professional support and guidance to teachers. Since the earlier 2016 ERO reviews a programme manager and a human resource generalist have been appointed.

The previous ERO report for the kindergarten identified that the teaching team should continue to focus on enhancing existing self-review processes to evaluate all aspects of teaching and learning. In addition, the association was asked to strengthen appraisal. Progress in this area is ongoing.

This review was part of a cluster of eight in the Taranaki Kindergarten Association.

The Review Findings

The curriculum reflects the local context including acknowledgement of Māori culture. It offers a wide choice of resources and activities to promote children's' engagement and enjoyment. A culture of aroha and respect for others, as well as the environment, is evident. Teachers purposefully engage the diverse range of learners in a programme which provides challenge. Older children supporting younger children is a familiar practice. 

Children's and families' sense of belonging is promoted by responsive teachers. Literacy, numeracy and science learning is enhanced through meaningful and interesting activities. Group and individual children's interests are noticed and responded to by teachers who add complexity to their learning. Comprehensive planning, and meetings with external agencies about children with diverse needs are useful and well documented.

The learning environment reflects the different cultures, languages and identities of the children and their families. Teachers are culturally responsive and encourage children to speak in their first language. Staff draw on research and their positive relationships with families to enhance younger learners' sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Effective leadership is evident. Leaders and teachers effectively use strategic and annual plans to monitor and enact the kindergarten's values. Effective communication, care and respect are highly valued and practiced.

A well-managed system for planning for all children's learning is in place. This is informed by teacher's observations and is collaboratively evaluated and findings are used to guide individual and group planning. Attention should be given to recording children's learning outcomes in assessment documentation, to better highlight children's progress over time.

Teachers integrate te reo me ngā tikanga Māori into the programme. Their developing knowledge of local areas of interest which are significant for Māori provide a foundation to develop relationships with local iwi. This together with association guidance should support the ongoing focus on promoting educational success for Māori.

Transitions into kindergarten are thoughtfully considered. Teachers and families work in partnership to ensure that children settle at their own pace. Information for families whose children are transitioning to school has been recently updated. Assessment documents are available for children to share with their new entrant teacher.

Ongoing professional learning has supported teachers to understand the need to develop a clear and specific process for review and evaluation. This should be further strengthened using well-defined and measurable indicators, against which teachers gather a robust range of evidence. Such practice should better assist teachers in evaluating the quality of the programme and outcomes for children.

A useful appraisal process supports teacher practice. A recently revised appraisal procedure, includes the use of formal observation of teacher practice. Once fully established it should assist leaders to strengthen the process. Critique of practice would also be enhanced to support teachers' ongoing improvement and learning. PLs should then undertake regular monitoring of how well appraisal is being implemented in each kindergarten.

The board's ongoing commitment to biculturalism is reflected by initiatives to support teachers to promote te āo Māori in the curriculum and to develop culturally appropriate practices. Senior leaders are developing initiatives to better determine the impact of curriculum delivery and teaching and learning in each kindergarten.

The board works collaboratively with the kindergarten community to establish vision, values and strategic priorities. Establishing clearer measures of success would enable the board to measure progress and evaluate how well practices support the realisation of its goals and vision.

The association should establish clear expectations of the purpose and use of assessment, planning and evaluation in kindergartens. Professional leaders in partnership with teaching teams should then monitor the effective implementation of:

  • assessment, planning and evaluation

  • review and internal evaluation.

In addition, the association should establish a system for the ongoing monitoring of legislative requirements, including those related to health and safety.

Key Next Steps

ERO and kindergarten teachers agree that the key next steps are to continue to strengthen:

  • assessment to clearly show children's learning progress

  • review by including a stronger focus on evaluating the impact of change on children's learning.

The association should:

  • strengthen the processes used to evaluate the progress of the strategic plan

  • provide effective guidance and monitoring of association expectations related to assessment, planning and evaluation, review and internal evaluation and health and safety practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Merrilands 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 Merrilands Kindergarten will be in three years.

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

27 April 2017

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


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

34 children aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 22, Boys 22

Ethnic composition



Other ethnic groups




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

February 2017

Date of this report

27 April 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

November 2013

Education Review

June 2010

Education Review

December 2005

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.