Mill Street Early Learning - 23/09/2016

1 Evaluation of Mill Street Kindergarten

How well placed is Mill Street Kindergarten to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

With stable leadership and well-focused support from the association, this service should be well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Mill Street Kindergarten is one of 25 early childhood services administered by the Ruahine Kindergarten Association Incorporated (the association). It is licensed for 40 children aged over two years, an increase of 10 since the November 2012 ERO report. Of the children enrolled, 18 are Maori and 12 are Samoan. The kindergarten community is culturally diverse. Significant refurbishment of the indoor environment has been undertaken in the past three years.

In 2016, the kindergarten’s licensed hours were increased to 30 per week and staffing was increased accordingly. Four out of the five teachers are qualified and registered. Apart from one teacher, all staff have been appointed since the previous 2012 ERO review. At the time of this review, an acting head teacher was leading the team. The number of changes of head teacher since the previous review has impacted on the work of the team.

The kindergarten philosophy emphasises the importance of: whanaungatanga (relationships), manaakitanga (kindness), and the principles of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, to support children as successful learners.

The November 2012 ERO review identified that teachers should develop ways to document and respond to parents' aspirations for their children’s learning in order to develop a more culturally responsive curriculum. Planning required strengthening to identify teaching strategies that challenge and extend children’s learning. Progress is evident.

Day-to-day management of the association's affairs is the responsibility of the general manager. A governing board sets the overall strategic direction. The senior teacher provides professional leadership for teaching and learning. An operations manager supports services’ compliance, policy development and leadership. A management restructure has been undertaken since the previous ERO review.

This review is one of a cluster of eight reviews of Ruahine Kindergarten Association early learning services.

The Review Findings

The kindergarten is suitably resourced to support children’s investigation of, and participation in, a range of learning experiences. The expansive outdoor area has been carefully developed to include an increasing variety of challenging activities. Some changes have been made in the environment to better support the participation of children aged under three years. Teachers should continue to identify ways of best meeting the needs of these children.

Teachers are kind and caring. Their learning conversations with children support the development of close relationships, feelings of belonging and understanding of interests and needs. Positive strategies are used to manage children's behaviour. There is a demonstrated commitment to culturally responsive practice. Children are happy learners who enjoy each other's company and the support of teachers.

Teachers should work on maximising opportunities for their authentic and purposeful engagement with children to support their sustained play and development of their ideas and understanding. Routines should be used more effectively as part of the learning programme to provide support for children's developing social competence and self-management.

A flexible and inclusive approach supports children and their families to settle into the life of the centre. There is a strong emphasis on sustaining and improving children's wellbeing and ensuring their basic needs are met. The 2015 focus on healthy living provided a range of meaningful experiences which should assist with building good life skills. Relationships with parents, whānau and aiga are well developed. Teachers have good knowledge of the local community and support agencies to meet families' needs.

The programme is responsive to individual children’s interests and needs. Literacy, mathematics, creativity and aspects of science are integrated into activities in meaningful play-based ways.

Progress has been made in developing the quality of programme planning and assessment. Teachers' approach now includes some references to parents' aspirations for their children's learning, children's developing learning dispositions, philosophical values and specific teaching strategies. A priority for the new leader should be to again formalise the team's process, including developing expectations and written guidelines linked to practice. Increasing the focus on the evaluation of the impact of teacher strategies on children's learning should further strengthen the approach. An online programme has the potential to improve teachers' and whānau/parents’ communication about children’s learning and progress. This is in the early stages of implementation.

Teachers should work on strengthening the relationship they have with local primary schools to facilitate the sharing of information about children's learning, and school and early childhood programmes.

The kindergarten team acknowledges the need to strengthen acknowledgment of the importance and place of te ao Māori in the progamme and operation. Association leaders are strongly committed to implementing a bicultural curriculum and promoting success for Māori as Māori. The revised Tiriti o Waitangi policy, Wise Practice document and bicultural exemplars should support development of these practices.

With the changes in leadership, the association is endeavouring to put in place appropriate support for the team to develop cohesive, collaborative practice. A priority for the new leader should be the collaborative review of the philosophy to reaffirm the values that will underpin teaching and learning at Mill Street Kindergarten.

The association is providing good support for teachers to use a more evaluative approach to review for improvement. In this kindergarten, this is in the early stages of development. Teachers should continue to build their shared understanding and use of internal evaluation to support decisionmaking that improves and sustains positive outcomes for children. The association agrees the continued development of the Wise Practice indicators should occur to support understanding about the quality and effectiveness of practice and operation at kindergarten through to board level.

The kindergarten's annual plan outlines priorities for the year linked to the association's strategic goals of having high quality staff, coordinated services, effective partnerships and operation. Progress is recorded and reflected upon in collaboration with the senior teacher and operations manager. Quality indicators linked to outcomes for children are a useful addition to the annual plan. These should be further defined to enable more effective monitoring of progress.

The association provides effective governance and management support for this service. This includes:

  • constructive and improvement-focused support from the senior teacher

  • suitable quality assurance processes and guidelines linked to compliance with regulations and association expectations

  • a variety of operational and administrative support

  • effective and targeted support for teacher and leadership development through appraisal and wide-ranging professional learning opportunities.

Key Next Steps

ERO and association leaders agree that association support should prioritise:

  • well-managed induction for the new head teacher

  • development of team culture

  • the review of the philosophy

  • further strengthening of internal evaluation, assessment for learning, and acknowledgment of te ao Māori in the programme and operation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

23 September 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

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 29, Girls 19

Ethnic composition







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 2016

Date of this report

23 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2012

Education Review

June 2009

Education Review

June 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.