Riverstones Early Learning Centre - 27/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Riverstones Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Riverstones 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.


RIverstones Early Learning Centre is a purpose-built, privately-owned centre in the township of Lumsden. It opened in 2013 to provide education and care for up to 33 children from a widespread rural catchment.

Children play and learn in attractive, well-resourced spaces. There are separate spaces that cater for the specific needs of infants and toddlers, with flexibility for all children to play and learn together.

The owner manages the operation of the centre, as well as leading teaching and learning. All teachers are early childhood or primary trained, and are fully registered or working towards becoming fully registered teachers. There have been some changes in staff since the centre opened.

This is the first ERO review for this centre.

The Review Findings

Children's sense of belonging is well supported. They are warmly welcomed and settle quickly into the programme. The owner and teachers actively foster caring and respectful relationships between children and adults. Children have strong friendships with each other and are supported to play well together. Teachers know children and their families well. They use a variety of ways to communicate with parents and whānau.

Teachers use their knowledge of children's interests and family lives to provide a wide range of learning experiences. They make useful links within the local and wider community to support children's learning. The owner and teachers have positive relationships with local schools.

Teachers use specific ways to support children's language development. They deliberately include aspects of early literacy, mathematics and science within the programme. Children hear and use some te reo Māori, waiata and karakia.

While children are familiar and comfortable with routines, teachers need to evaluate how effective these routines are in meeting the needs of individuals and groups of children.

Children's transitions into and within the centre are well supported. Infants and toddlers benefit from:

  • nurturing and caring relationships

  • a settled and calm environment

  • low ratios that enable one-to-one responsive interactions between them and their teachers.

Teachers are developing a shared understanding of planning for groups and individual children. They now need to consistently gather parents' wishes for their children's learning and show how these are responded to. Teachers have explicit guidelines for writing learning stories that provide a model of good practice. They now need to ensure that these guidelines are used effectively. Group planning needs to clearly show the intended learning and the strategies and experiences teachers will use to extend children's learning.

The owner provides strong leadership, has high expectations for herself and staff, and is committed to continuous improvement. She has developed effective systems for managing the day-to-day operation of the centre. With the teachers and community she has identified areas for ongoing development, including the design of a bicultural curriculum. These areas need to be prioritised in future planning.

The teachers and owner are in the early stages of developing their understanding and use of effective self review. They have made some improvements to practices and centre operation as a result of spontaneous reviews.

The owner and teachers have built a collaborative team culture. The owner identifies teachers' individual strengths and is building their skills and capabilities. She actively seeks appropriate professional development to respond to identified needs.

Key Next Steps

The owner and teachers have made significant progress in establishing the centre. They agree with ERO that there are a number of key next steps to support their vision for high quality education and care. These include further developing and strengthening:

  • the philosophy to identify the centre’s desired learning for children

  • assessment, planning and evaluation for individual and groups of children

  • learning partnerships with parents and reflecting children's culture, language and identity

  • long-term planning that is aligned to important aspects of the centre, reflects Māori perspectives, and is regularly monitored and evaluated

  • the appraisal process.

ERO has identified, and the owner agrees, that aspects of self review need to be improved.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Riverstones 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

27 June 2016

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

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

33 children, including up to 9 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 35

Girls: 26

Ethnic composition









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

May 2016

Date of this report

27 June 2016

No previous ERO reports for this Centre


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.