Pioneers Home Central - 01/04/2019

1 Evaluation of Pioneers Home Central

How well placed is Pioneers Home Central to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Pioneers Home Central is very well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Pioneers is a not for profit early childhood education and care service. It comprises four early childcare centres and three home-based care services. These are managed by a director with the support of a management team. Pioneers is governed by a board made up of parents from within the organisation.

Pioneers was known as Dunedin Community Childcare Association when previously reviewed by ERO in 2015. At that time, the three home-based services were called Kauri, Rata and Kōwhai. These are now rebranded as Pioneers Northern, Pioneers Southern and Pioneers Central. Pioneers Central is licenced for 60 children.

The 2015 ERO review recommended improvements in some aspects of the service. Pioneers leaders and teachers have made very good progress in implementing these improvements.

Pioneers home-based care service provides education and care for up to four children at a time in the homes of educators. The majority of educators are very experienced and either have an Early Childhood Education qualification or are working towards one. They are supported and guided by a qualified early childhood education professional (visiting teacher) who visits them regularly. The visiting teacher ensures children receive good quality education and care while in the educators' homes.

Pioneers home-based care services has a philosophy that promotes the belief that 'a child is a treasure to be nurtured to grow and to flourish'. The key priorities for children's learning include social competence, literacy and mathematics, bicultural understandings and physical wellbeing.

This review is about Pioneers Home Central, formerly Kōwhai, which is part of a cluster of three home-based care services governed and managed by Pioneers.

The Review Findings

The visiting teacher has established caring, empowering relationships with her educators and the children and families using the service. The dedication and professionalism of the visiting teacher supports positive outcomes for children. She builds on each educator's individual strengths while supporting them to implement programmes and provide experiences that promote and extend children's learning. The educators understand what is expected of them and the significance of their work. The service provides financial and study skills support for educators to support them to build their knowledge and skills.

Children at Pioneers Home Central are provided with high quality care and education. The visiting teacher's skills are enhanced by the collegial support offered by the other visiting teachers. The visiting teacher's team and the service's leaders have extensive experience and expertise working within the early childhood education setting. They work closely together, sharing their expertise and supporting one another to personalise their work with educators.

Te Whāriki (2017), the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum, is used effectively to support the focus on children and their learning. There has been significant and ongoing work with visiting teachers and educators to build their understanding of how Te Whāriki applies in daily practice. The teachers and educators set goals relating to key curriculum priorities and these can be seen clearly in documentation about children's learning.

There is an expectation for all involved in the service to build on their knowledge of te ao Māori and bicultural practices. This is gaining momentum across a range of practices. A bicultural review led to a plan of action to support this development over time.

All children are carefully matched to educators with the skills and knowledge to work with that family's particular needs. Children under the age of two are carefully placed with educators who support the child's home routines and provide the relevant care and learning needed for that individual's learning and development.

Pioneers uses a range of effective processes to communicate with parents, educators and each other. The Pioneers system supports the sharing of vital information which can be easily accessed by all who need it. Families can access information about their children's learning on a daily basis and hear how the educator and visiting teacher have supported this. The system also enables the visiting teacher and the team leader to closely monitor children's progress and educators' practice. Parents access profile books, made by the educators, which include useful and valuable information about their child's learning.

Children preparing to transition to school are well served. The visiting teacher supports educators to implement individualised learning programmes for older children, with an emphasis on promoting the child's independence, self-regulation and self-confidence skills.

The visiting teacher has useful links with the local community. She encourages educators to provide a range of outdoor experiences for children and to expose children to interesting community events. Along with her colleagues, the visiting teacher has begun a new initiative whereby the three homebased care networks gather together to share knowledge and skills. The visiting teachers facilitate this sharing while role modelling best practice.

The gathering place is set up to provide examples of ways to enhance learning through natural materials and other resources suitable to a home environment. This provides an opportunity for the educators to learn from the visiting teachers. Children are also able to build on their learning and social skills through the opportunity to interact with the wider Pioneers home-based community.

Children benefit from high quality leadership at all levels. The service's director, team leader and the visiting teacher team are all highly focused on outcomes for children. The board receives comprehensive reports from the leaders. Board members are well informed about the quality of the care and education the children receive. They also receive regular reports on compliance matters.

There is a strong culture of professional development. The visiting teachers access a wide range of useful professional learning aligned with strategic goals, curriculum development and internal evaluation, to strengthen teaching and learning where there is an identified need. Recent developments in the appraisal systems have also strengthened visiting teacher knowledge and practice. An appraisal process is in place for educators to build their capability and develop teaching practice on an ongoing basis. Pioneers has a comprehensive recruitment and induction process for new educators.

Leaders have a good understanding of the service's strengths and next areas for development or improvement. Internal evaluation for accountability and improvement are well understood. This process is effective in improving outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

Service leaders have identified, and ERO's evaluation has confirmed, that the key next steps for Pioneers Home Central are to:

  • consolidate newly introduced practices to ensure they are effectively maintained and monitored over time

  • continue with internal evaluation and self-identified next steps across the various aspects of the operation

  • continue to implement the Pioneer's bicultural plan, and further support and enhance children and their families' cultures and identities.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Pioneers Home Central completed an ERO Homebased Education and Care 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.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

1 April 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 Home-based Education and Care Service



Ministry of Education profile number


Institution type

Home-based Network

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

60 children, including up to 60 aged under 2

Service roll


Standard or Quality Funded


Gender composition

Boys 10

Girls 8

Ethnic composition

Other ethnicities


Number of qualified coordinators in the network


Required ratios of staff educators to children

Under 2


Over 2


Review team on site

December 2018

Date of this report

1 April 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2015

Education Review

June 2011

Education Review

May 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 the draft methodology for ERO reviews in Home-based Education and Care Services: July 2014

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.