Nature's Explorers Kindergarten - 28/02/2019

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

Nature's Explorers Kindergarten is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Nature's Explorers Kindergarten is located in a semi-rural community in Riverhead, north of Auckland. The kindergarten is privately owned and is licensed for 30 children from two years of age. Most children enrolled are Pākehā and the roll includes a small number of Māori children. The director/owner is the operations manager and oversees two other centres. The kindergarten team comprises of a head teacher, three registered teachers, a teaching assistant and an administrator.

The centre's philosophy outlines a commitment to promoting children’s positive image of themselves as learners, with an emphasis on creating natural learning environments. Te Tiriti o Waitangi is promoted through partnership with parents and whānau and through Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum.

ERO's 2015 report identified some positive features of the centre that have been sustained. These include respectful relationships, and children being supported well to develop skills for literacy and numeracy. Teachers have made some progress in responding to ERO's recommendations about engaging in relevant and meaningful professional learning, and are developing critical reflection to improving teaching and learning.

The Review Findings

Teachers know the children and their families well. These strong partnerships support children's sense of belonging at the centre. Teachers demonstrate positive, respectful relationships with children.

The programme is inclusive and celebrates diversity. The environment is attractive and features the use of natural resources to support children's play. There is a good indoor and outdoor flow to further encourage children's play choices. Children are keen to engage in activities and conversations with teachers. They work well together to develop their play ideas. Their sustained engagement in learning and play is strengthened through a meaningful focus on technology, science and literacy.

Teachers provide children with a selection of resources and spaces to explore. They offer good support for children’s play and learning, and respond well to children's interests. They could now consider ways to provide a more challenging programme, and increase the complexity of children's learning.

The process for children to transition into the centre is well established. As a result, children settle quickly. Children and their families are supported well to transition to primary school. Children have regular visits to the local school.

Teachers have a strong commitment to bicultural practices. They are building their capacity to include te reo and tikanga Māori in the programme by engaging with whānau Māori. Leaders and teachers could now develop a bicultural plan to outline how they might build their knowledge, understanding and confidence in promoting te ao Māori.

Teachers have many opportunities to improve their practice. An external provider supports leaders and teachers to strengthen programme planning and assessment, and improve centre operations. Teachers can now build on these improvements by documenting children language and cultural identity, their progress and development over time, and the ways in which they respond to parents' aspirations for their children.

The director is improvement focused and values professional development. Leaders could consult with teachers, parents and whānau to identify centre priorities and increase rigour in their evaluation. This could help leaders to establish systematic processes for ongoing centre improvement.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for teachers include:

  • strengthening planning, assessment and evaluation processes

  • continuing to improve children's records to show their cultural identity, parents' contributions, and learning and development over time

  • deepening teacher inquiry into areas of the curriculum, and teaching and learning.

Key next steps for leaders include:

  • clarifying the roles and responsibilities of identified centre leaders

  • further developing internal evaluation by refining strategic goals to guide centre improvements.

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.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

28 February 2019

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 aged over 2 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 24 Boys 18

Ethnic composition

other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2019

Date of this report

28 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2015

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.