Palmerston Pre-School and Nursery - 22/03/2016

1 Evaluation of Palmerston Pre-School and Nursery

How well placed is Palmerston Pre-School and Nursery to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

At the time of the onsite stage of the review the centre was for sale and the owners were not able to anticipate the centre’s future direction. The team leader who left the centre mid 2015 had not been replaced. The owners had yet to establish a new leadership structure and strategies to take the service forward. Since the 2013 ERO review, some systems to support the centre operations had been put in place by the previous team leader but many of the processes and the record keeping for these had not been well maintained. The centre requires further development with curriculum, planning, assessment and self review. Current leadership needs substantial support to ensure development and improvements are ongoing.

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


The privately owned centre provides education and care for children under and over two years of age. The purpose-built facility is situated in a small, rural community in East Otago. Most of the teaching team have been with the centre since it opened eight years ago. Over recent years however, there have been a number of changes in the leadership. At the time of this review, a teacher was acting as team leader. The manager role had been disestablished and financial operations were being managed externally. The centre has experienced a drop in roll as children move on to school.

The Review Findings

Teachers have positive, caring relationships with children. They have worked hard together to build professional relationships and a culture of ongoing reflection. The building of a team culture was supported by the previous team leader who worked diligently to systematically address the recommendations of the previous ERO report. She established a number of systems to improve consistency of practice which included establishing a useful appraisal system. This would be strengthened with action plans to achieve agreed goals and the inclusion of an observational component. 

She also developed a mentor programme to keep teachers up-to-date with current theory, a system for planning and assessment, and systems to provide a safe environment for children. 

Since she left, record keeping for these and for some aspects of health and safety has not been maintained. There needs to be a clear leadership or management structure in place to ensure systems are maintained, all requirements continue to be met and improvements are ongoing. 

The acting team leader and teachers have continued to use some self-review processes to make improvements at the centre. They are aware that there is more work to do to build their understanding of evaluation practice and to improve the review process. 

The centre philosophy and guiding documents outline what the centre values for children’s learning. Teachers now need to:

  • state the centre’s commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and bicultural practices in the philosophy
  • develop and implement a shared understanding of how these bicultural beliefs and values will be demonstrated in centre programmes and teaching practices.

ERO found a key next step to improve outcomes for children is to improve the quality of the curriculum by strengthening planning, assessment, evaluation and records of learning. Effective and ongoing support for the current professional leadership is necessary to bring about these improvements. 

On the day ERO observed the programme, the core curriculum in the infant room provided opportunities for children to explore. It was set up to encourage oral language and close one-to-one interactions. The programme for the older children offered little choice and many of the opportunities for good-quality interactions between teachers and children were missed. The centre has good resources but these were not freely accessible to children on the day. 

Profile books and programme planning show teacher-led and theme-based experiences and activities. These do not adequately show how teachers respond to children’s interests, cultural identity and parents’ aspirations. There needs to be a stronger focus on learning and showing children’s progress over time. 

Key Next Steps

The leader and teachers need to:

  • clarify the key priorities for children’s learning and plan programmes and practices to promote this learning (including bicultural practices)
  • find better ways to include parents as partners in their children’s learning
  • ensure the key learning priorities are implemented through a curriculum that supports and extends children’s interests, cultural identity and parents’ aspirations
  • develop assessment processes and records of learning so that they can be used to help teachers promote and extend individual and group learning
  • access external support to develop their understanding of effective evaluation processes (self review) and practice 
  • strengthen appraisal processes
  • ensure health and safety practices and associated documentation are kept up to date.[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008]

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Palmerston Pre-School and Nursery 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

Some aspects of health and safety have either not been maintained, not recorded or need strengthening. The licensee must:

  • adequately record earthquake and fire drills
  • keep accurate accident and medication records including that parents have been notified
  • implement more detailed risk-management systems for outings
  • meet the requirements under the Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014
  • keep records of the food children consume which is provided by the centre.[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008]

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service consults with the Ministry of Education and plans to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Palmerston Pre-School and Nursery will be within two years.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

22 March 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


Palmerston, Otago

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

39 children, including up to 11 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 29 Boys: 20

Ethnic composition











Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80% Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2016

Date of this report

22 March 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

February 2013


Education Review

October 2009

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.