Natural Steps Early Childhood Centre Ellerslie - 11/02/2015

1 Evaluation of Natural Steps Early Childhood Centre Ellerslie

How well placed is Natural Steps Early Childhood Centre Ellerslie 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.


Natural Steps Early Childhood Centre Ellerslie is a privately owned centre that was established in 2009. Originally operating under three separate licences, the service has now been relicensed under a single licence. It offers all day education and care for up to 100 children, including up to 35 under two years of age. The centre operates from a purpose built facility in the commercial area of Ellerslie.

Children and teachers are from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. The centre’s curriculum is underpinned by its guiding values and is influenced by the Reggio Emilia philosophy and byTe Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum.

The centre is governed by owners who meet regularly with the centre management team and monitor the strategic direction of the centre. The centre is capably led by a centre director and five head teachers. There is a high level of collaboration between teachers, parents and children to help ensure that centre priorities lead to high quality outcomes for children and their families.

The positive features of Natural Steps Early Childhood Centre Ellerslie that were acknowledged in ERO’s 2011 report continue to be evident. Ongoing improvements have enhanced children’s learning experiences and contribute to a centre that is focused on providing a valuable service to families.

The Review Findings

Children are confident and enjoy learning. They settle quickly into the centre environment and make good choices about their learning and play. Children show respect for each other and for their environment. They are encouraged to develop good levels of independence, social competence and the confidence to be self-reliant. Children express their ideas well, and their views are sought and celebrated at the centre.

Children play collaboratively in groups and enjoy periods of extended play. They show a strong sense of belonging and participate in lively and meaningful conversations with adults and each other. Teachers know children and their families well, and mutually respectful interactions are evident. Children are treated as capable learners and teachers provide many opportunities for children to revisit their learning.

The programme and environment allow many opportunities for children to explore and experiment. Natural resources are provided in uncluttered indoor and outdoor spaces where children are free to be creative. Children are encouraged to be self motivated, make decisions, and to take on challenges.

Children up to two years old benefit from a peaceful environment and the nurturing care that teachers provide. They are encouraged to explore and have good opportunities for physical play. They are curious and adventurous when playing in mixed age groups in the centre’s shared outdoor environment.

Children transition within the centre as they are developmentally ready. Care is taken to make children's transition to new rooms a smooth and enjoyable experience. There is particular emphasis in the pre-school rooms for children to be school ready in their thinking, skill and independence levels.

The curriculum is skilfully developed to promote Te Whāriki, Reggio Emilia principles and the centre’s guiding values and philosophy. There are good systems in place to help teachers plan for children’s interests and to progress their learning. Children’s interests and inquiries are an essential part of the learning experience. Children’s individual learning journeys are recorded in portfolios, in both electronic and paper forms. Plans are underway to strengthen online communication with parents to further support partnerships for learning between home and centre.

The centre promotes success for Māori children as Māori. The place of Māori as tangata whenua is acknowledged. Teachers have worked to gain a more in-depth knowledge of tikanga and te reo Māori and to progress the centre’s bicultural curriculum. They are working on a variety of ways for parents and whānau to contribute to the programme.

Teachers work very well in a collaborative team to provide good quality outcomes for children. Their ongoing development is very well supported by management. They use their learning well to promote good quality practice and to build stronger relationships with children and their families and whānau. They continue to take on leadership roles in areas of interest and have opportunity to develop their strengths, upskilling and supporting professional learning in their teams.

High levels of self review and professional dialogue contribute to a culture of ongoing improvement. A new performance management system is being used with head teachers before being adopted more widely across the teaching staff. Specific feedback from centre leaders could help teachers to develop relevant performance goals.

Key Next Steps

ERO, the owner and centre director agree that key next steps for improvement include:

  • extending the use of children’s voice in planning and assessment and centre development
  • continuing to embed the centre’s guiding values to enhance curriculum implementation
  • using resources such as Tataiako to further strengthen teacher’s cultural competence and bicultural practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Natural Steps Early Childhood Centre Ellerslie 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 Natural Steps Early Childhood Centre Ellerslie will be in four years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

11 February 2015

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


Ellerslie, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

100 children, including up to 35 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 60

Girls 53

Ethnic composition







other Asian

other European









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


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

11 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2011

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.