Natures Nest Early Learning Centre - 24/04/2013

1 Evaluation of the Service

How well placed is the service to promote positive outcomes for children?

Natures Nest Early Learning Centre is well placed to promote positive outcomes for children.


Natures Nest Early Learning Centre has been open for 18 months in the industrial area of Warkworth. It operates from purpose-built premises that are licensed for 75 children, including 25 up to the age of two. Children and their families come from a large geographical area and programmes are provided for babies, toddlers and preschool children in separate rooms.

The philosophy is strongly guided by principles of Te Whāriki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, learning about nature, sustainability and the community. Although open for a short period of time, the managers, staff and families have translated this philosophy into daily practice.

The centre is owned and operated by two experienced early childhood teachers. Most of the teachers are qualified.

This is the first ERO report for the centre.

Review Findings

The centre has been beautifully designed and built to provide opportunities for children to learn in a motivating natural environment. The centre is very well resourced, with largely natural materials that children can use in a variety of ways. The environment stimulates children to explore and to engage in play for long periods of time. Children know that they are expected to show respect for their environment and centre resources. They choose from the highly varied opportunities that the environment offers to extend their physical skills.

Teachers and owners have built responsive and respectful relationships with families to support children’s sense of belonging. They cater well for diversity to support all children’s wellbeing and learning. Centre managers make good use of community resources to access specialist assistance for children and to work with families when appropriate.

Tikanga Māori is strongly evident in the environment and in centre values, programmes and expectations. Te reo Māori is used at times and whānau contribute their knowledge and skills to aspects of the programme.

There is a strong focus on children developing independence and self management skills. This is carefully managed so that children’s skills and dispositions develop over time. This focus supports children to make the transition to the different age-based rooms in the centre and when they are ready to move on to school.

Teachers talk to children about their learning. This helps children with their language, vocabulary and intellectual development. To build on these foundations, teachers should now increase their focus on reading and encouraging children to experiment with writing, including digital literacy, in the context of their play.

The programme is driven by children’s choices and their engagement with nature. Teachers support children’s learning by setting up areas of play in ways that trigger children’s imagination and stretch their thinking. They note and respond to children's interests.

Strong professional leadership is provided. Centre managers make good use of external experts to help with teacher development. Planning for children’s learning has been reviewed by an external adviser. As a result, further work is being done to support teachers’ assessment, planning and evaluation practices. To further build head teachers' capabilities the owners could also consider seeking further leadership training for the head teachers in each room.

Centre owners are very focused on continuous improvement. Self review is thorough, comprehensive and very well documented. Review processes guide centre improvements and development.

Key Next Steps

Centre managers agree with ERO that their next steps in centre development are to:

  • expand current short-term planning processes to accommodate long-term plans and goals, and to make these plans visible to parents/whānau and staff
  • review the centre’s policies in conjunction with teachers to ensure close alignment between policy and practice
  • include in the upcoming review of the centre’s philosophy how the goals and principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi will be met
  • develop and implement a formal process for teacher appraisal that is aligned with the criteria for registered teachers
  • create a more systematic programme of advice and guidance for provisionally registered teachers.

2 Legal Requirements

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.

3 Next Review

When is ERO likely to review the early childhood service again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Dale Bailey National Manager Review Services Northern Region

24 April 2013

Information about the Early Childhood Service



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

All Day Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

75 children, including up to 25 aged under 2 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 49 Girls 44

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā



Other ethnicities





Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Exceeds minimum requirements


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2013

Date of this report

24 April 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports 


General Information about Early Childhood Reviews

About ERO Reviews

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the New Zealand government department that reviews schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

Review focus

ERO's education reviews in early childhood services focus on the factors that contribute to positive learning outcomes for children. ERO evaluates how well placed the service is to make and sustain improvements for the benefit of all children at the service. To reach these findings ERO considers:

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 self review and partnerships with parents and whānau.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of service performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to the service.