Natures Nest Early Learning Centre - 26/06/2020

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

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

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


Natures Nest Early Learning Centre is a purpose-built service that is privately owned and operated. The centre provides education and care for 80 children, including up to 25 under two years of age, in three age-related groups.

Two directors share dual ownership and are responsible for daily operations. They are supported by a team of 11 qualified teachers, four in training and nine unqualified staff. Team leaders are responsible for each room.

The centre's philosophy promotes a strong connection to the environment. Teachers value community connection, and relationships are based on a model of 'give, receive, do, act'. The principles within Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, are woven throughout the document.

The 2016 ERO report highlighted many aspects of quality practice that have been sustained. Areas for development included increasing the visibility of strategic planning. There has been very good progress in this area. Bicultural practice and responses to children's language and cultural identity continue to be areas of focus for the centre.

The Review Findings

The centre's philosophy is strongly evident in all aspects of practice. Children confidently farewell their caregivers, easily access a wide range of open-ended resources and settle into play of their own choosing. They move freely between indoor and outdoor play spaces. Children are settled and engaged, and follow their interests and curiosities.

Infants and toddlers form secure attachments with teachers who support their sense of belonging. The unhurried pace of their programme allows these young children time and space to direct their own learning. Teachers' interactions are sensitive, gentle and respectful. Teachers have a strong understanding of children as individuals.

Children benefit from good teacher to child ratios and responsive, respectful interactions with teachers. Routines allow periods of time for children to investigate, play imaginatively and take their thinking and interactions to a more complex level. Children are empowered to take increased responsibility for the wellbeing of themselves and others. The centre is highly active within the community. Strong relationships have been established with local schools to support effective transitions for children.

Teachers know children, their whānau and life contexts. They talk conversationally with children, modelling language and providing new vocabulary. Teachers understand the communication styles of individual children and positively guide children's behaviour. They deliberately set up the environment to encourage children into new experiences and to enhance their learning dispositions and current interests.

A commitment to te reo and tikanga Māori is visible in the centre environment. Māori children and whānau are acknowledged, and external support continues to grow staff understanding of bicultural practice. Service leaders and teachers agree that a focus should be maintained within this area.

Teachers meet regularly to discuss effective teaching practices and children's learning and development. Children's portfolios of learning are individual to each child and give a strong sense of their unique character. A focus for the team is ensuring portfolios more explicitly acknowledge children's language, culture and identity.

Parents who met with ERO spoke positively about the teaching team and their knowledge of each child as a learner. They appreciate teachers' individual responses to children's personal and learning needs. Transitions into and through the centre are respectfully managed according to children's individual needs.

The centre is well managed and well led. Leaders successfully engage the whole team in professional learning opportunities. This ensures shared understandings across the team and supports the implementation of new initiatives. Ongoing engagement in professional learning contributes to continued centre improvement. A relevant process for internal evaluation has been established. Service leaders agree that indicators to monitor and measure success would strengthen this process.

Key Next Steps

Service leaders agree that next steps include:

  • continuing to build individual teacher capability through the robust appraisal process the service has implemented

  • increasing the use of te reo Māori in teaching and learning experiences.

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.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services (Northern)

Northern Region - Te Tai Raki

26 June 2020

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

80 children, including up to 25 aged under 2 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2020

Date of this report

26 June 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

October 2016

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

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.