Nature's Explorers Kindergarten - 02/09/2015

1 Evaluation of Nature's Explorers Kindergarten

How well placed is Nature's Explorers 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.


Nature’s Explorers Kindergarten, is privately owned and is situated in Riverhead, north of Auckland. It is licensed to provide education and care for 30 children over two years of age. Children attending the kindergarten are predominately NZ European/Pākehā, with a small number of children from other ethnic backgrounds.

Children receive quality care and education. The kindergarten has a respectful learning culture that sustains and promotes positive outcomes for children.

A range of personnel, including the owner, provide good quality governance and effective leadership. This supports the operation of the kindergarten. Regular professional development opportunities are provided for staff from a range of external and internal facilitators. A mentor provides professional support for the head teacher.

The kindergarten’s philosophy provides a sound foundation for the programme and practices. The philosophy aims are for children to make connections, research, experiment, dream, explore, and create at their own pace.

The 2012 ERO report recommended that teachers strengthen bicultural practices and this included making greater use of te reo Māori. The report also recommended that staff report to parents, whānau and aiga about how the kindergarten had responded to ideas that emerged out of consultation.

The Review Findings

The centre’s philosophy and vision is well reflected in practice. It is underpinned by responsive and caring relationships. Children, parents and whānau are warmly received and welcomed into the centre. Respectful relationships help provide a nurturing, settled environment that supports children’s sense of wellbeing and belonging. In keeping with the centre’s philosophy, the programme focuses on the interests of children, and the aspirations of parents.

The centre’s curriculum is well designed to support and extend the development and learning of children. It provides appropriate opportunities for them to explore and initiate their own learning and be imaginative, creative and physically active.

Children are well supported to have opportunities to develop meaningful and appropriate skills for reading, writing and maths. These opportunities are appropriately integrated into their play. The local community is strongly reflected in the curriculum. Children have good opportunities to visit Riverhead forest, the local library and Riverhead school.

Teachers demonstrate a commitment to bi-cultural practices through their use of te reo Māori and waiata. They have noted their interest in establishing a Māori policy and practice group. The aim is for this group to identify priorities to support a bi-cultural curriculum and strengthen engagement with whānau. This could help teachers develop more in-depth knowledge of tikanga and te reo Māori and enhance their teaching practice.

Programmes develop appropriately from what teachers and parents notice about the interests and strengths of children. Children also share their ideas about what to include in the centre programme. These ideas are documented in the planning alongside the aspirations of parents and whānau.

A greater focus on what children’s interests mean for their learning could deepen programme planning and further support children’s engagement in extending their learning. Centre leaders have already prioritised taking a closer look at the complexity of children’s learning and dispositions. This is being done through planned professional learning scheduled for later in the year.

Children’s learning is visible through learning journals and displays, parent evenings and weekly newsletters. Comfortable seating arrangements in the centre allow parents and whānau to sit alongside their children sharing their learning journals and talking with them about their learning.

Children’s strengths and interests are identified and parents are encouraged to contribute to their child’s learning stories. This helps create a more meaningful partnership with parents and whānau, increasing their contribution to their child’s learning.

The centre benefits from teachers’ collaborative team work. They use each other’s strengths and work well together. Leaders and teachers could make more effective use of updated information and research to reflect on and evaluate their individual practices. Better documentation of their teacher review and more in-depth thinking about the effectiveness of their practice would help promote high quality care and education for children.

Key Next Steps

The owner and head teacher agree that useful next steps for the centre include:

  • deepening teacher’s understanding of the complexity of children’s learning and dispositions beyond the present focus on their interests
  • more purposefully applying professional learning in practice and critically reflecting on ways to continually improve teaching and learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Nature's Explorers 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 Nature's Explorers Kindergarten will be in three years. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

2 September 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 


Riverhead, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls       27
Boys      20

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


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

June 2015

Date of this report

2 September 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2012

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.