Rainbows Gordonton Early Childhood Centre - 30/06/2017

1 Evaluation of Rainbows Gordonton Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Rainbows Gordonton Early Childhood 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.


Rainbows Gordonton Early Childhood Centre provides an education and care service for children from approximately six months old to school age. The centre is located in a purpose-built facility within the grounds of Eastwest College of Intercultural Studies in the rural settlement of Gordonton, near Hamilton. The centre operates two age-specific rooms, Explorers for very young children and a preschool. The centre is licensed for 50 children, including a maximum of 10 under two years of age. The current roll is 67, of whom 6 are identified as Māori. A significant number of children are from diverse cultural backgrounds, and several of these children are English language learners.

The centre is governed by the Gordonton Educational Society (GES) and the current licensee is the principal of Eastwest College. GES appoints the centre manager and retains responsibility for financial matters and strategic planning. The centre manager, who took up her appointment in 2016, has responsibility for professional leadership and all operational matters. She shares aspects of centre leadership with the head teacher in the preschool. While there has been considerable changes to the teaching team in the past two years, the centre has retained a high proportion of qualified staff.

The mission statement reflects the strong priority the centre places on Christian beliefs and values. Diverse cultures are to be welcomed and celebrated.

GES and centre leaders responded positively to recommendations in the 2014 ERO report. Partnerships with parents have been extended and strengthened, so that the programme for children is better informed by their aspirations and expectations.

The Review Findings

Children are engaged, happy and affirmed as they learn through play in a welcoming Christian-based centre. Relationships amongst teachers and children are respectful and positive. Children are supported to make choices, are confident to share their prior learning and to approach adults for help. Transitions into, within and from the centre are responsive to children readiness, and well supported by the presence and actions of multicultural staff. Children’s identities and sense of belonging are enhanced, and they are supported to become confident and capable lifelong learners.

The inclusive culture of the centre is strongly evident. The staff bring their own diverse cultures and languages to enrich the atmosphere. Children and their families can hear and sense that their language, culture and identity are being respected. The centre also has a clear commitment to the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. Te reo and tikanga Māori are naturally incorporated into daily practice and the programme. The centre manager sets and shares high expectations for staff to demonstrate a strong commitment to culturally responsive practice.

Children up to the age of two in the Explorer room are well supported to independently explore within safe, secure and familiar surroundings. There is good use of verbal and non-verbal communication, which allows teachers to be responsive to children’s physical and emotional needs. The teaching team in this area is very new and centre leaders agree that developing an agreed pedagogy for working with these very young children is a next step. In addition, GES is aware of the challenge and interruptions caused by having the main entrance to the centre open directly into the Explorer play space.

The well-designed curriculum responds to the interests, strengths and abilities of all children. The programme is an appropriate combination of sustained child-initiated play and teacher-led activities when important foundation skills for learning are incorporated. Teachers bring a wide range of personal, cultural and professional knowledge to their roles. The curriculum provides extensive opportunities for artistic and creative play, music and movement, and exploration. The spacious outside play areas strongly encourages physical challenge and construction. Aspects of early literacy and mathematics experiences are naturally integrated, and strong levels of oral language are evident.

Planning, assessment and evaluation processes are well structured and based on the principles of notice, recognise and respond. Christian and cultural strands of knowledge are deliberately included and promoted. Planning is highly individualised and allows for both emergent interests and foundation skills to be provided. The centre walls include effective visual displays of recent learning, which reflect diverse cultures and identities of children and their families. Relevant, well-illustrated learning stories are available to parents on-line, and in assessment portfolios. They facilitate effective two-way communication with families/whānau.

Children and staff benefit from effective professional and operational leadership. In a short space of time, the centre manager has built a collaborative teaching team with a shared commitment to reflective practice and continual improvement in outcomes for children. She has also established an efficient organisational structure, supported by well-documented guidelines. The centre manager works closely with the preschool head teacher to lead comprehensive, evidence based self-review processes. This self review has fully involved staff, and includes appraisal processes, the professional development programme, focused teaching as inquiry, parent feedback and plans for action. The centre manager has successfully developed a sense of unity and positive purpose.

The centre is effectively governed. The shared philosophy statement developed through consultation with staff and parents/whanau, provides a clear direction for the centre. It reflects Christian values, along with bicultural and multicultural perspectives. GES is highly supportive of the centre manager and staff. It provides generous financial support for staff professional development, and good quality resources. An important next step is for the trust to provide planned professional support for the centre manager. This includes completing her annual appraisal, agreeing on an external mentor and developing guidelines for her reporting to the trust board.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre leaders agree that the next steps are to:

  • develop a shared pedagogy in the up-to-two year old area

  • ensure adequate support and appraisal for the centre manager

  • continue the review of the entrance into the under two area and independent access to the adult toilets.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Rainbows Gordonton Early Childhood 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Rainbows Gordonton Early Childhood Centre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

30 June 2017

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


Gordonton, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

50 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 34 Girls 33

Ethnic composition

South African


Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

30 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

September 2014

Education Review

August 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 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.