Okara Educare - 07/05/2019

1 Evaluation of Okara Educare

How well placed is Okara Educare to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Okara Educare is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Okara Educare provides education and care for 70 children, including up to 20 under the age of two years. Children are grouped according to age into two separate indoor and outdoor play areas. Half of the children enrolled are Māori.

The centre manager is supported by an area manager. The teaching team includes five other qualified and three unqualified teachers.

The centre's philosophy is consistent with the values of Educare Learning Centres and is aligned with the aims of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. It acknowledges te ao Māori and values respectful relationships with children, whānau and the community. It also recognises the importance of having a physical and emotional environment that supports children's wellbeing and learning.

The 2015 ERO report identified many positive aspects of practice. Areas for continued development were bicultural practice, programme evaluation, appraisal processes and whānau contributions to assessment. There has been a positive response from the teaching team.

The centre is one of 16 centres owned by the directors of Educare Early Learning Centres. The shared vision across this group is "Learn, Laugh, Play". The group's senior leadership team provides administrative and professional support. They also monitor and evaluate the centre's progress towards achieving the centre-specific strategic goals that align with the organisation's goals.

Educare's focus over the past three years has been professional learning and development (PLD) in leadership and in te ao Māori. More recently, PLD has included a focus on supporting children’s oral language, programme planning, assessment and aspects of performance management.

This review was part of a cluster of three reviews of Educare Early Learning Centres.

The Review Findings

Children settle easily into their play. They have easy access to a wide range of resources and the freedom to explore. Children engage confidently with adults, trusting them to respond to their requests and ideas. They have a good sense of belonging in the centre environment.

Children confidently engage in play with their friends. They play imaginatively and creatively. The outdoor environment offers a very good range of physical activities. Children use the equipment available skilfully to set their own challenges. Long periods of uninterrupted play allow them to revisit and strengthen their knowledge and skills.

Teachers' interactions with all children are caring and positive. They are responsive to children's ideas, conversations and requests, and good models for children's developing language. Mathematics and literacy learning occur in meaningful contexts. Teachers' responses allow children to sustain and bring complexity to their play. Consistency in staffing supports infants and toddlers to form secure attachments with their caregivers.

Te reo Māori is very visible in the centre's environment and documentation. Māori values that are included in the service's philosophy are lived and understood by the teaching team. Children and teachers enjoy weekly visits from a kapa haka group. Teachers would like to continue deepening their knowledge of te reo and te ao Māori.

Children's transitions through the centre are sensitively managed. The centre layout allows younger children to interact with older children and their teachers throughout the day. Teachers have built strong relationships with the local school that support children as they transition to school. The centre is very inclusive and works well with outside agencies to ensure positive outcomes for all children.

Programme planning is based on teachers' observations of children's interests. Teachers include parent aspirations, as well as children's inquiries and self-identified learning goals, when considering learning outcomes. Teachers should now establish processes for recording their planned responses to children's interests, and for programme evaluation.

The centre is well managed and led. An improvement focused strategic plan guides the centre's future direction. Annual plans could include actions to be taken in each year to ensure continued progress towards achieving the centre's strategic goals.

Educare managers are proactively building leadership capability within the organisation. The sustainable leadership model is working well in this centre. An improved appraisal system and targeted professional learning and development are supporting ongoing improvements in teaching and learning.

Key Next Steps

Centre leaders agree that key next steps for the centre include:

  • continuing to refine and develop programme planning and evaluation

  • continued development of internal evaluation with a focus on using evaluative questions to guide the process

  • aligning strategic and annual action planning, and monitoring the progress towards achieving strategic priorities.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Okara Educare 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

7 May 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


Morningside, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

70 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 34 Boys 29

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

December 2018

Date of this report

7 May 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2015

Education Review

September 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.