Penguins School of Early Learning - 18/08/2014

1 Evaluation of Penguins School of Early Learning

How well placed is Penguins School of Early Learning to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Changes in leadership and management are improving the overall performance of Penguins School of Early Learning. The centre is now well placed to promote positive outcomes for children.

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


Penguins School of Early Learning is a large early childhood education centre in the East Auckland suburb of Howick. The centre occupies modern, purpose-built premises that provide high quality facilities for up to 150 children, including 25 under the age of two years.

The centre previously operated as three distinct age-related licences, each of which had separate ERO reviews. Since ERO’s 2011 review, the three centres have been relicensed by the Ministry of Education under a single licence.

There have been considerable changes to centre operations since 2011. Changes have included the resignation of the previous long-serving centre director in 2013 and a significant turnover in teaching staff prior to this time. These personnel changes were disruptive at the time, and the past year has been a period of rebuilding and consultation under new leadership and management.

The new centre director and support manager are working collaboratively with staff and centre owners. Together, they are reviewing areas of centre operations, including the centre philosophy. They are re-establishing staff confidence, developing team leadership and strengthening partnerships with parents. Constructive relationships between centre managers, the six team leaders and teachers are supporting these positive developments.

The Review Findings

Children enjoy the play-based learning programmes that teachers provide. Children initiate their own play and select easily accessible equipment to support their activities. Teachers recognise children’s progress and development and respond to their interests effectively. Children’s transition through the centre is carefully managed by teachers in consultation with parents.

Learning programmes in each of the seven rooms are well planned. Teachers plan for each child individually. This planning is displayed so that children and parents can be engaged in discussions about learning. Children’s records of learning are regularly updated and shared with parents. Children enjoy revisiting their learning through these attractively presented portfolio records.

Children enjoy trusting relationships with teachers. They make friends with other children and learn to resolve conflicts. The open and spacious rooms are set up with a wide variety of areas of play. The remodelled outdoor environment encourages children’s physical activity and cooperative play. Teachers respond to children’s questions and encourage their inquiry and exploration.

Teachers provide high quality care and learning experiences for infants and toddlers. They manage the needs of children up to the age of two years in gentle and sensitive ways. Teachers maintain the individual routines of each infant in an environment that is calm and unhurried. Respectful interactions support infants to explore their environment and practice early communication skills.

Parents appreciate the positive changes in centre leadership and management. They provide feedback to teachers and share their aspirations for their children. Teachers are aware of children’s cultural diversity and understanding of different languages. They encourage English language learning, and include phrases and songs in te reo Māori throughout the day.

Centre managers and team leaders have engaged staff in reviewing the centre’s vision and philosophy. A new strategic planning approach is guiding centre improvement and policy review. Leadership roles have been clarified and enhanced. Centre leaders are aware that ongoing support and professional learning is needed to strengthen self review and embed the new directions.

Centre leaders are planning to systematically review all areas of centre operation, including bicultural practices and the transition to school programme. Their initial focus has been on engaging with parents and building a professional team culture. Staff express confidence in the leadership changes. They are participating positively in evaluating centre operations and reflecting on their own teaching practice.

Key Next Steps

Centre managers agree that the next stage of centre development should focus on:

  • completing the performance management system review and implementing an appraisal process that incorporates the Registered Teacher Criteria and supports management expectations
  • continuing to develop shared understanding of desired learning outcomes for children to support teacher planning and assessment practices
  • reflecting on the teacher’s role in extending learning by building progressively on children’s knowledge and skills as they transition through the centre
  • using the new centre philosophy as a framework for evaluating the quality of learning programmes and strengthening self review.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Penguins School of Early Learning 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.

The centre manager is systematically reviewing all legal requirements, including those relating to centre excursions, evacuation procedures and hazard identification. Qualified teachers are registered and unqualified staff have been recently police vetted.

The owners agree that legislative compliance should be more clearly aligned to the centre's operational planning and reporting systems. More clearly defining the owners’ and the centre director’s roles could improve understanding of legal responsibilities.

In order to improve practice, the owner should ensure that the centre director has a regular appraisal that supports both the leadership and management expectations of the position.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Penguins School of Early Learning will be in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

18 August 2014

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


Howick, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

150 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 95

Girls 93

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



other Asian








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

June 2014

Date of this report

18 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2011


Education Review

March 2008

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.