Penguins School of Early Learning - 21/05/2018

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

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


Penguins School of Early Learning is one of four early learning services owned by ACG Education. The service is licensed for 150 children, including up to 25 aged under two years. Nearly half of the children enrolled are Chinese and a small number have Māori or Pacific heritage.

The centre's philosophy statement highlights guiding principles that include kind and caring interactions, and the importance of respectful relationships. It notes that children's strengths and interests will be enriched and extended within a play-based programme.

Since the 2014 ERO review, the service has undergone several changes. A new centre director was appointed in May 2017 just before ACG Education acquired the service. Several new team leaders and staff members have recently been appointed.

There are seven rooms for age-related groups of children in the large, purpose built premises. Most rooms provide access to outdoor areas, which allow for some mixed-age play opportunities. A dedicated team of cooks provides meals for children.

ACG Education managers support the centre director in the overall management and leadership of the service. Team leaders have oversight of their teaching teams and the daily running of each room. Most teachers are qualified.

The 2014 ERO report highlights positive relationships, well planned learning programmes and high quality care and learning experiences for infants and toddlers. These strengths continue to feature. The report also identified areas for improvement, including self review, appraisal, programme planning and assessment. Good progress has been made in these areas.

The Review Findings

Children are happy and confident, and interact well with their peers and teachers. Teachers' interactions with children and families are warm and respectful. Children's social and emotional competence is promoted well and families are valued members of the centre.

The education and care provisions for infants and toddlers are very good. Teaching approaches are strongly influenced by Magda Gerber philosophical approaches. Teachers are highly responsive to children's temperaments, preferences and interests. They maintain calm interactions and provide younger children with space and time to lead their learning. Teachers value and respect play as a means for learning.

Children over two years of age participate in a semi-structured programme that allows them to freely explore the environment. They confidently make decisions about their own play. The well-resourced learning environment provides children with easy access to a variety of appropriate areas of play. Children who have additional learning needs receive very good support.

Leaders provide useful guidelines to help teachers plan well. Planning, assessment and evaluation processes respond successfully to children's individual strengths, dispositions and interests. Teachers view children as capable and competent learners. Older children are involved in planning their programmes.

Teachers work well together to support children’s play. They recognise children's developmental stages and respond to their interests appropriately. They value children's ideas and contributions to their learning. Well considered processes support children's transitions into and within the service.

Cultural events such as Matariki, Chinese New Year and Diwali are celebrated with children and families. Centre leaders are committed to enhancing the service's bicultural curriculum. They acknowledge how children's different cultures could be better reflected in learning records. Leaders also identify that improving teachers' use of te reo Māori with children is a next step.

Staff encourage parents and whānau to take an active role at the centre. They offer a variety of useful opportunities to communicate with parents and value their input. Online learning records give families ready access to information about their children’s learning.

The centre director and managers are reviewing systems, practices and processes. New leaders are well supported to build their leadership skills. Mentoring processes are in place to help extend teacher capability. The director is considering how she can more regularly participate in professional networks as a service leader.

The service has a well-documented set of policies. Good internal evaluation processes are systematic and help guide aspects of centre improvement. A new appraisal process has been developed but is yet to be fully implemented. Managers acknowledge that having a deeper understanding of the Ministry of Education's strategy Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, will help meet Education Council requirements.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for ongoing improvement are:

  • managers strengthening long term planning to support the implementation of annual goals, and the use of evaluation to determine how well goals are met
  • managers accessing professional development that supports staff to implement a bicultural curriculum and deepen their understandings of Pacific learners
  • teachers strengthening goal setting, action plans and inquiry into teaching practice as part of their appraisal process.

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.

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.

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

21 May 2018

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 28 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 57% Girls 43%

Ethnic composition

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

February 2018

Date of this report

21 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 2014

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.