Milton Early Learning House - 08/09/2016

1 Evaluation of Milton Early Learning House

How well placed is Milton Early Learning House 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.


Milton Early Learning House provides education and care for children from birth-to-school age. It is a small centre in a rural town with close links to its community. The preceding three ERO reviews identified important areas that needed to be improved.

The last ERO review (June 2014) found that the manager needed to develop, document and put in place clear systems and guidelines to ensure consistent and smooth operation of the centre. Areas to improve included:

  • long and short-term planning for the centre

  • self-review practices

  • appraisal of staff

  • support for provisionally registered teachers

  • planning, assessment and evaluation practices.

At ERO's request the centre developed an action plan as to how it would improve its practices during 2015. It then implemented some changes and sent ERO a progress report with evidence of the actions taken. This review (2016) found that key areas have not been adequately addressed and improvements have not been maintained.

The centre owner is the manager and a fully certified teacher. This year she has taken on the role of office administrator and sometimes works alongside her staff with the children. The teaching staff include provisionally registered teachers and teachers in training. Some have worked in the centre for many years.

Some of the good practices identified in the 2014 ERO report about how teachers care for and support children's learning continue. 

The Review Findings

This review found that many of the improvements relating to leadership, management and centre systems have not been maintained.

In 2014, the manager developed a long-term plan for the centre. Since this time, some centre priorities have changed and the plan is not well used or known by staff. It is timely for the manager to involve teachers in developing a new plan to guide the centre into the future. An annual plan linked to the long term plan would be useful.

Some guidelines for self review are now in place and staff had external help to improve self-review practices. Since the last review, they completed a detailed review of the centre's philosophy and several spontaneous reviews. A schedule for the review of policies and procedures is in place and mostly followed.

Much work is still needed to build the manager's and staff's understanding of effective self review and to ensure timely and regular planned and emergent reviews. The centre needs a schedule of review to ensure that all learning and teaching priorities are evaluated over time. When reviewing policies and procedures, the manager needs to be assured that practices align with these.

An appraisal system was developed and implemented. This included useful feedback and next steps for staff. However, appraisal has not been maintained. Some aspects of the appraisal process need more rigour. The manager needs to urgently re-establish appraisal for herself and her staff.

The provisionally certified teachers need better support to become fully certified. Some are at risk of not meeting Education Council deadlines. The manager needs to ensure time is set aside for regular meetings, observations and professional learning and that records of these are kept. A procedure that describes how these teachers will be supported would be helpful.

Some policies and procedures, such as staff appointments and appraisal, need to be urgently reviewed to reflect recent legal changes and best practice. The manager also needs to ensure that an annual programme for professional development for staff is in place.

Aspects of the learning environment and resourcing for learning could be improved. Presently, it is hard for children and parents to know what the group-learning focus or other learning priorities are. Displays and the more intentional setting out of resources to support the desired learning are needed. Some areas in the centre and resources need to be refreshed to excite and engage children.

The Māori dimension, including the use of te reo Māori, could be strengthened. Teachers had identified this and are presently reviewing their practices in this area.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Milton Early Learning House 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 found significant areas of non-compliance in the service related to:

  • implementing appraisal

  • supporting provisionally-certified teachers

  • having a planned professional-learning programme for staff

  • having an annual budget to guide financial expenditure.

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA 7 and GMA 9.

Recommendation to Ministry of Education

ERO recommends that the Ministry reassess the licence of Milton Early Learning House. ERO will not undertake a further education review of this service until the Ministry of Education is satisfied that the service meets licensing requirements.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Milton Early Learning House will be in consultation with the Ministry of Education.

Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

8 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

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

60 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition


Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

8 September 2016

Most recent ERO reports


Education Review

September 2014

Supplementary Review

June 2011

Supplementary 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 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.