Pioneers Koputai - 06/09/2018

1 Evaluation of Pioneers Koputai

How well placed is Pioneers Koputai 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.


Pioneers Koputai is one of four centres under the Dunedin Community Childcare Association, trading as Pioneers. Pioneers is a not for profit organisation and has four centres and three home-based care networks. A governance board oversees the work of Pioneers. A director acts as the operational manager and leader of learning. Pioneers aims to ‘provide accessible, affordable and flexible quality education and care for families of Dunedin’.

This is a full-day service (from 7.30am to 6.00pm) in the Port Chalmers community. Children from birth-to-school age attend the centre and learn in a mixed-age setting. The centre is a refurbished house, creating a home-like environment. The centre provides healthy food for the children.

Pioneers Koputai has a head and assistant head teacher. The head teacher is responsible for the day-to-day management of the centre. Since the 2015 ERO review, there has been little change in staffing. Most of the teachers are qualified early childhood educators.

The centre philosophy states that teachers will provide a welcoming, inclusive and fun environment and value te ao and te reo Māori. It also refers to authentic and responsive relationships with children and their families, and enabling children to lead their learning, learn from each other, be challenged, accept change and achieve their full potential.

This review was part of a cluster of four early learning service reviews in the Pioneers (DCCA) organisation.

The Review Findings

Koputai is a very welcoming and inclusive centre for children, parents and wider whānau. Caring, respectful and trusting relationships are evident at all levels. Children settle quickly and show a strong sense of belonging and ownership of the centre.

Children are very well supported in their learning. Leaders and teachers have a deep understanding of each child as an individual and as a learner. They use this knowledge to intentionally extend and deepen children's learning. As a team, they have identified key priorities for learning at Koputai. These priorities and the centre's philosophy are strongly evident in the day-to-day programme.

Children at Koputai benefit from a rich, engaging and broad curriculum. Its key strengths are:

  • frequent use of the local environment and community to enrich children's learning and sense of place

  • the way children learn about sustainable practices, healthy food and develop a respect for Papatuanuku

  • the many opportunities for safe risk-taking and physical challenge

  • a strong focus on social competency

  • meaningful integration of early literacy

  • intentional enrichment of children's oral language.

In this centre, te ao and te reo Māori are valued. Core Māori concepts and values, such as ako, tuakana-teina-like relationships; kaitiakitanga; manaakitanga and whanaungatanga are evident in the way adults and children relate and learn. Children have many opportunities to hear and use te reo Māori, enjoy waiata, follow tikanga and develop positive attitudes towards Māori culture.

Infants and toddlers (and their families) are very well supported. They develop close bonds with key teachers (the primary caregiver) and benefit from responsive and nurturing care and a strong focus on learning. Similarly, children new to the centre or moving on to school are sensitively supported through these transitions.

Teachers have comprehensive assessment and planning practices. They seek and respond to parents' wishes, and identify relevant individual goals and teaching strategies. Learning stories capture important learning moments and clearly link to children's goals.

Children benefit from well-planned, fun and engaging group experiences, such as an extension group for four-year olds and an explorers group. In the best examples, teachers had identified explicit learning outcomes and teaching strategies for the group. They regularly evaluated how well these outcomes had been achieved, and if necessary made ongoing improvements.

Leaders and teachers have a good understanding of effective internal evaluation. These contribute to well-informed change and ongoing improvement. Clear guidelines about curriculum priorities and expected teacher practices contribute to consistent practices.

Koputai children, teachers and families benefit from its strong leadership. Leaders value teachers’ strengths and passions. They and teachers work as a collaborative and collegial team to provide the best for Koputai children. Teachers benefit from well-considered internal and external professional learning that leads to improved practices. Leaders have fully addressed the recommendations in ERO's 2015 report.

Key Next Steps

The centre has a treaty that describes how everyone at Koputai should play, work and act. ERO recommends that Koputai leaders and teachers evaluate how well aspects of the Koputai Treaty are enacted.

Pioneers Association - Governance

Pioneers has sound governance practices. Board members have a good understanding of their governance role, and have relevant skills and work experience. With the director, centre leaders and teachers have developed well-considered strategic goals and useful long and short term plans. Initiatives and practices across the centres are intentionally aligned to these. Teachers and leaders feel valued and very well supported by director and board.

The director has implemented useful systems and practices that contribute to the smooth operation of the centres through a period of significant change. Valuable relationships have been built with social and educational organisations beyond the association, with the intent of improving educational provision and children's wellbeing.

The director and ERO have identified that the next steps are to:

  • implement the new and improved appraisal system, including teaching as inquiry

  • extend quality assurance to further identify and share best practices across all centres so that any additional support required is identified

  • build links with local iwi and Māori whānau to enable rich learning about te ao Māori across all centres

  • support centres to develop more useful annual action plans and improve reporting against these.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Pioneers Koputai 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 Pioneers Koputai will be in three years.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

6 September 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


Port Chalmers, Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

20 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 15 Boys: 27

Ethnic composition

Other ethnicities


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 2018

Date of this report

6 September 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

February 2015

Education Review

December 2011

Education Review

August 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.