Niu Early Learning Centre - 25/02/2015

1 Evaluation of Niu Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Niu 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.


Niu Early Learning Centre provides full day care and education in a total immersion Tongan setting. The centre is licensed for up to 50 children, including up to 10 under two years of age. The centre’s clear philosophy and vision focuses on promoting children’s learning and is highly evident in practice. It offers culturally appropriate early childhood experiences within a Tongan context.

Since the 2010 ERO review, the centre has undergone some significant changes. This has included a change of centre name from Tongan Kahau Ola Early Childhood Education to Niu Early Learning Centre. The centre has also relocated to new purpose-built premises on the grounds of Linwood North Primary School. The centre is governed by the board of the Tongan Canterbury Community Trust. This board is also involved in several other projects that focus on the social and economic wellbeing of the Tongan people living in the Canterbury region.

The centre employs 11 staff, including six registered teachers. The non-teaching staff includes a newly appointed office administrator, who supports the supervisor in managing the daily administrative aspects of the centre. The centre supervisor has responsibility for overseeing teachers’ professional practice and the curriculum provided for children.

The centre’s previous ERO report in 2010 identified some positive features of the centre which have been sustained. These include the continuing provision of high quality care, the positive relationships between staff and children and their families, and the ongoing nurturing of children’s Tongan culture, language and identity.

The Review Findings

Extensive external professional learning and development for teachers has significantly improved teaching and learning practices, resulting in positive outcomes for children and their families. It has led to a more inclusive, child-centred programme with strong emphasis on affirming children’s cultural identity.

The programme’s strong focus on Tongan culture, language and identity has contributed to children’s strong sense of belonging and wellbeing. Children are happy, settled and show ownership of the centre. They are confident and competent in leading their play, particularly during routine group times. Children take on leadership roles when participating in cultural ta’ulunga (dance), hiva (music), and lotu (prayer). This practice supports and promotes language learning for children and non-Tongan speaking adults. Staff also acknowledge their responsibility for promoting children’s awareness of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and recognise the need to further strengthen this element of the programme.

English and te reo Māori language development is also promoted in the programme. Children are confident communicators, and enjoy the conversations they have with each other and with adults. Children have some opportunities to develop early literacy and mathematics skills. Further work by teachers to extend their knowledge of practices that are most effective in promoting literacy and mathematics learning in preschool settings should enrich this aspect of the programme.

The learning environment is attractive and well presented. Resources include a range of natural materials that support children to explore and be creative in their play. Wall displays reflect children’s cultures and identity and encourage children’s conversations and revisiting of their play experiences.

Children up to two years of age have easy access to a separate indoor and outdoor space that is calm, supportive and encourages exploration. They also have opportunities to come together with older peers. This feature of the programme provides opportunities for tuakana-teina relationships to develop and grow. Older children demonstrate patience and tolerance with younger children, who learn from the positive role modelling of their older peers. To further enhance learning experiences for younger children, it is important that staff extend their professional knowledge of quality care and education practices for infants and toddlers.

Partnerships between parents, families and teachers are strong. The teaching team use a collaborative approach incorporating an effective talanoa process for working with fanau/families. This process is modelled well and ably led by the centre supervisor. Parents appreciate the clear and open communication by staff, and the contributions parents make to their children’s learning programmes are appreciated by teachers.

Parents interviewed by ERO highly value the cultural and inclusive programme teachers promote. Parents are particularly positive about the relocation of the centre to its current site in Linwood. The centre provides a community van to transport children to and from the centre. This has been successful in increasing participation and, as a result, attendance is more consistent.

The supervisor and staff are improvement focused. Centre practices are underpinned by a strong team culture where staff show commitment to their professional practice and to supporting each other. Teachers have benefited well from relevant professional learning and development. They make good use of assessment practices to identify children’s interests, progress and continuity of learning overtime. Self-review processes are proving useful in increasing children’s engagement in the learning programme and in improving learning outcomes. Teachers have identified the need to now strengthen centre self review processes and plan to further explore relevant literature on this topic to inform developments in their practice.

The board of trustees are becoming active in their role of supporting the centre and need professional support to promote good understandings of its role as a governance board. Trustees are working on finding ways that will enable the board to give more support to the centre supervisor and staff.

Key Next Steps

ERO recommends that the board give priority to:

  • clarifying and separating the income and expenditure of the Tongan Canterbury Community Trust and Niu Early Learning Centre; ensuring the centre is provided with accurate budget information; and providing annual audited accounts for the centre committee and community
  • improving its understanding of governance, and developing a governance manual and code of conduct to guide governance practices
  • clarifying the role of the management committee in supporting the centre manager in the daily running of the centre
  • developing a strategic plan for the centre that identifies how finances will be used to promote positive outcomes for children and to improve the environment, including centre resources and equipment
  • developing a centre-wide understanding of self review as a tool for ongoing improvement and for ensuring that the centre is meeting its legal requirements.


It would be useful for trustees to access external support to further strengthen their understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Niu 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.

During the review ERO found significant areas of non-compliance in the service related to governance and management systems and practices. In order to address these, the board of trustees must ensure that:

  • suitable human resource management practices are implemented and that a good quality professional mentoring programme is developed to support provisionally registered teachers
  • appropriate financial management and reporting processes, including reporting on the expenditure of Equity Funding, are in place.

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, 47(1)

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA 2-4, 5-9, 12.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Niu Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

25 February 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


Linwood, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

50 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 20 Girls 17

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

December 2014

Date of this report

25 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 2010


Supplementary Review

January 2009


Education Review

November 2003

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.