Natures Nest Early Learning Centre - 19/10/2016

1 Evaluation of Natures Nest Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Natures Nest Early Learning Centre 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.


Natures Nest Early Learning Centre, in Warkworth, is a purpose built, privately owned and managed centre. It is owned by two directors who work closely with the centre supervisor. The centre provides education and care for up to 75 children, including up to 25 under two years of age. It caters for different age groups in three separate learning areas; Matai (infants and toddlers), Totara (two years to 3.5 years), and Kauri (3.5 to five years). There are team leaders in each of these rooms.

The centre's staff includes 12 qualified teachers and five who are in training. Most of the staff work full time. The owners work closely with the centre supervisor who leads the mentoring programme and curriculum implementation.

The centre’s philosophy promotes inclusive practices that embrace respectful relationships and value family collaboration and partnerships. Provision of a caring and stimulating environment to support children’s holistic needs, is important to teachers. The philosophy has recently been reviewed and adapted to include the concept of partnership with tangata whenua, and celebration of the centre's growing culturally diverse community.

The 2013 ERO report noted teachers' responsive and respectful relationships with children, and their promotion of children's self-management skills. These positive aspects continue to be evident. The report recommended that strategic and annual planning goals could be shared with parents, and that policies and practice should be aligned. Further recommendations were made regarding reviewing the centre's philosophy, and staff appraisal processes. The centre has made good progress in these areas.

The Review Findings

The centre's philosophy is reflected in practice. Children play confidently and enthusiastically in a calm, unhurried environment. They enjoy conversations together and talk about their interests and ideas. Older children are leading their own learning and becoming competent problem solvers.

The attractive, well resourced environments encourage children's exploration and engagement in play and learning. Respectful teaching practices and sensitively timed interactions support children to become highly focused in their play. The younger children particularly benefit from individualised, nurturing and gentle care as they explore and discover the centre resources and environment.

The centre's strong commitment to building bicultural practices is reflected in the partnerships that teachers are building with whānau Maori. Teachers support each other to implement culturally responsive practices, and a respect for sustainability, papatūānuku and the environment. They are becoming more confident to integrate te reo and tikanga Māori in the programme. Managers are keen to strengthen these aspects of teacher practice through further professional learning.

Teachers work well together as a supportive and collegial team. They provide a curriculum and intentional teaching that are responsive to their observations of children. Programme planning is displayed to invite parent participation and contributions. Teachers celebrate children's progress through documenting their learning in attractive portfolios that are also available online for parents.

Centre owners work collaboratively to build sustainable leadership capacity across the centre. Their recent focus has been on developing a centre culture that is focused on continual improvement. The supervisor mentors and coaches teachers and she regularly models effective teaching practice. Managers are refining records of teacher professional development and appraisal, and developing ways to ensure that teaching teams are effective in supporting children's learning.

As a result of sound internal evaluation, the centre vision, philosophy, strategic and annual planning are well aligned and show a clear future direction. Self review is collaborative, linked to children's learning, and used by managers and teachers to guide their practice.

Key Next Steps

Centre managers agree that key next steps include:

  • making the regular review of progress towards strategic goals more visible for staff and parents

  • reviewing how well programme planning, evaluation and assessment practices are extending children's learning and promoting their cultures and languages

continuing to review and develop bicultural practice.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Natures Nest Early Learning Centre 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 Natures Nest Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

19 October 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

75 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 59% Girls 41%

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


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

19 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2013

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.