Rata Free Kindergarten - 07/10/2014

1 Evaluation of Rata Free Kindergarten

How well placed is Rata Free Kindergarten to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

The teaching team is yet to fully adjust to being a smaller team. There have been staff changes and a new head teacher is to be appointed in the near future. Teachers need to better support children to develop their social competencies. Improved planning would help teachers guide interactions and provide an environment that consistently supports children’s learning and independence.

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


Rata Free Kindergarten is one of two kindergartens in Temuka. It is licensed to have 33 children. Currently there are 20 children attending each day between 8.30am and 2.30pm.

There have been a number of staffing changes in recent times. Prior to 2014, the kindergarten had three full-time teachers. Since the beginning of 2014, the teaching team consists of two full-time teachers, one part-time teacher and a teacher aide working two hours a day. A relieving head teacher leads the teaching team.

The kindergarten is participating in Ministry of Education (MOE) professional development to build closer partnerships with the local marae and whānau.

In their philosophy teachers state:

  • they aim to foster children’s social and lifelong skills in a positive, welcoming and fun environment
  • the place of Māori culture is important
  • the cultures of all children are valued
  • they plan regularly for individual children and groups to maximise teaching and learning needs and opportunities.

The next steps in this report identify how the philosophy could be better put into practice.

This review was part of a cluster of 11 kindergarten reviews in the South Canterbury Kindergarten Association (SCFKA).

The Review Findings

Children enjoy spacious indoor and outdoor areas. Learning and play opportunities include climbing, construction, creativity and dramatic play. Awareness of their immediate and local environment has been enhanced through gardening, looking after a worm farm and learning Māori legends specific to the area.

A key feature of Rata Free Kindergarten is the teachers’ determination to provide a rich bicultural environment for all children. Children hear and use te reo Māori throughout their kindergarten day. Teachers integrate tikanga Māori into daily practices.

There is a sense of community within the kindergarten. This is seen through:

  • good relationships with children and their whānau

  • stronger connections being established with the local marae

  • inviting people from the community to be part of the kindergarten programme.

ERO observed some children playing well individually and in small groups. They were able to access resources they required for their play independently. The children see the kindergarten as their place, their tūrangawaewae.

Through play, children can explore and are exposed to a range of mathematics concepts, for example sorting, counting and measuring. Teachers are familiar with the MOE resource Te Aho Tukutuku.

Key Next Steps

With ongoing support from the SCFKA, teachers need to continue to strengthen their planning processes for individual children and groups. In particular this should include:

  • finding better ways to respond to parents’ wishes for their children’s learning and development
  • more consistently identifying the learning outcomes
  • ensuring plans include what strategies teachers will use to support children to achieve
  • assessing the progress children have made in regard to the planned intentions
  • evaluating the effectiveness of their teaching.

The kindergarten has some children with high learning and/or social behaviour needs. The teachers need to ensure suitable planning is in place to guide the teaching and learning of these priority learners.

The teachers have recently reviewed the philosophy to make certain it reflects the teaching team’s beliefs. Their next step is to describe the philosophy as to what it will look like in practice. This should assist the teachers to:

  • implement the philosophy through their programme and teaching practices
  • integrate the philosophy into their planning for individual children and groups.

These developments, in conjunction with meaningful and useful planning, should allow teachers to have deeper and more effective interactions with children. They should also provide a richer curriculum that responds to the interests, skills and abilities of all children.

With the SCFKA, the teaching team needs to make better use of self review to monitor the effectiveness of its curriculum, programmes and practices, including the mathematics learning area.


The SCFKA is governed by a board and managed by a newly appointed general manager. The board:

  • has a strong commitment to teaching and learning

  • seeks parents’ views about important matters in the association

  • has made changes to the roll size and opening hours of the kindergartens to be more responsive to community needs and maintain the financial viability of the association

  • is very responsive to important government initiatives such as ensuring educational success for all children.

Next steps for the board are to:

  • know more about its roles and responsibilities as the governing body

  • develop strategic planning

  • ensure that reports review how well the association’s goals are met, are more evaluative and are better used for future planning

  • refine appraisal systems to ensure that staff and teachers more formally receive critical feedback about their work.

The senior teachers provide useful ongoing professional development and maintain a strong focus on teaching and learning to the kindergartens within the association. They have shared with the teachers at Rata Free Kindergarten the expectations they have for teaching and learning and how well they think the team is meeting those expectations.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Rata Free Kindergarten 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.

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Rata Free Kindergarten will be within two years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

7 October 2014

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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

33 children over two years of age

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 15 Girls: 11

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80% Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

Not applicable


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

7 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2011


Education Review

February 2008


Education Review

October 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.