Polytots Early Learning Centre - 12/05/2015

1 Evaluation of Polytots Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Polytots Early Learning Centre 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.


Polytots Early Learning Centre is a community-based service on the campus of the Western Institute of Technology in Taranaki (WITT). It is licensed to provide all-day care for up to 31 preschool children from two to five years. The service can take enrolments from the wider community. Currently many of those enrolled are the children of students studying at WITT.

Successive ERO reports since 2004 identified the need to improve teaching practices, curriculum and performance management. The evaluation findings from the 2010 ERO report included the need for centre staff to increase capability and develop a shared understanding of quality early childhood practices.

In addition to the 2004 and 2010 ERO report findings not being adequately addressed the August 2013 ERO report, identified non compliance in relation to: curriculum; assessment, planning and evaluation practices. Within these sat the need to develop the bicultural curriculum, aspects of the environment, promoting success for Māori and Pacific learners and self review.

Polytots is part of WITT'S student support provision, with the centre manager responsible to the manager student support services, who is the licensee for the service. Members of the institute's executive team have a governance role. Other institute staff work as mentors and in advisory roles to support the centre manager and her teaching team to improve operations.

Since the August 2013 ERO report, the centre manager at that time, moved into a teaching role. In early 2014 a new centre manager was appointed. Staff have received targeted support to improve centre practices through the Ministry of Education funded programme, Strengthening Early Learning Opportunities (SELO).

The Review Findings

The licensee, centre manager and teaching staff have made good progress in addressing the areas for improvement identified in the previous ERO reports.

A strong foundation has been developed to support change, improvement and sustainability of good quality early childhood practices. Work undertaken and achieved includes:

  • improving leadership capacity
  • reviewing the centre philosophy in relation to the service vision
  • identifying centre specific best practice indicators to make clear the expectations for teaching staff
  • improving staff appraisal and beginning teacher registration processes
  • developing staff understanding of the purpose and use of assessment for learning
  • continuing change and improvement to the centre environments
  • growing staff capability and understanding of self review as a tool for improvement.

Some additional changes have been made to improve the bicultural programme, promoting success for Māori as Māori, through responding to their language culture and identity, and increasing whānau involvement in the curriculum and the centre. The licensee, centre manager and teachers realise that further work is required to improve these areas in meaningful ways, through strategic and annual planning.

The centre manager has provided thoughtful and supportive leadership to facilitate the changes required for improvement. The development of best practice indicators by all staff has resulted in the establishment of an environment based on trust and reciprocity. A strong sense of collaboration, where the individual strengths of staff are used and valued, now prevails.

The centre’s best practice indicators provide clear guidelines and support shared understanding of good quality early childhood practice. Overtime, through review, these indicators should be further refined to align with and support achievement through practice of the service’s philosophy and vision.

Children’s interests and learning are effectively captured in high quality assessment records. Centre staff accessed professional development to increase their understanding of the purpose and use of assessment for learning. Multiple perspectives of the child and teachers’ observations provide a rich source of evidence to draw from. These are gathered overtime then analysed to identify learning.

Parents’ aspirations and how these are being met is evident in the records. The child's and teachers' thoughts and questions are a key feature. Photographs are used purposefully to demonstrate key learning moments. These records of learning provide detailed insights into each child’s interests and learning characteristics.

Children have access to a range of resources and activities to support learning through play. Parent aspirations, teaching strategies and learning outcomes form part of the curriculum plan. Drawing on children’s interests and learning from the assessment documentation to determine the emergent curriculum, resources and teaching strategies should add depth and complexity to experiences and further improve learning outcomes for all children.

Centre staff have a growing understanding of self review for improvement. They participated in a professional development cluster to grow their knowledge of planned in-depth reviews. Improvements to the centre culture have facilitated deeper reflection on practices, in relation to the centre's best practice indicators. Continuing this approach and inquiring more deeply into how effectively teachers' practices, outlined in these expectations are met, should support continuous improvement.

Key Next Steps

The licensee and centre manager agree that their key next steps include further improvements and refinements to the centre curriculum and self review.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Polytots Early Learning Centre 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.

To further improve practice in relation to the privacy of information about children, centre management should provide written guidance to parents regarding the use of images of other children at the centre.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Polytots Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

12 May 2015

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


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

31 children aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 12

Girls 11

Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2



Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

April 2015

Date of this report

12 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 2013


Education Review

August 2010


Education Review

June 2004

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.