School of Fish Childcare - 02/11/2018

1 Evaluation of School of Fish Childcare

How well placed is School of Fish Childcare 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.


School of Fish Childcare, in Onehunga, is licensed to provide all-day education and care for 60 children including 12 up to two years of age. It operates in a converted villa in a residential area close to the town centre. The owner/director opened a second centre in Mangere Bridge in 2016. The two centres share some management and curriculum approaches.

About a quarter of the children enrolled are from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Children are catered for in two age groups, transitioning into the older group at approximately two years of age. Children over the age of four take part in a morning programme that has a greater focus on getting ready for school.

The centre's philosophy is based on Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach to early learning. The philosophy recognises the individuality of children, and the importance of teachers listening to children and giving them the time to make choices. The teachers' role is to facilitate learning led by the child.

The centre employs a large number of qualified staff. An experienced mentor supports teachers in their professional learning and development. A chef is employed to provide meals for the children.

The 2015 ERO report recognised the high quality environment that provided many learning opportunities for children. It commented on the calm and affirming relationships that teachers had with infants and toddlers. The next steps identified at that time were to increase alignment between the centre's philosophy and teaching practice, and to develop more teaching strategies to extend children's learning. Some progress has been made in these areas.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from positive relationships with centre staff and each other. Teachers respond to children with warmth and respect. They work at the children's level and engage them in conversations and interactions that support their wellbeing and learning. Children are familiar with routines and how to access resources. Friendships among children are evident.

A primary caregiving approach for infants and toddlers facilitates good communication with parents when they are enrolling their children in the centre. The care for young children is based on their home sleep and meal routines.

The 'Little School' for four-year olds provides a good opportunity for older children to develop their skills in self-management, literacy and numeracy, and relating to others. Centre managers recognise that these skills, support children's transition to school and can be developed in the context of play.

The centre's physical environments are attractive and well organised. Resources are chosen for their educational value and displayed in ways that make them accessible and invite children to engage with them. Teachers set up the environment to provoke children's interests and promote their learning.

Teachers identify children's interests and support them to extend their learning through conversations and resources. Teachers are considering how they can strengthen the recording of planning for individual children.

Teachers' programme evaluation recognises children's learning and emerging interests, and includes brief teacher reflections. More effective, improvement-focused evaluation would help teachers to inquire into and examine their teaching strategies in more depth and to continually enhance their professional practice.

Teachers support children to build their knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori. Aspects of te ao Māori are included in programmes and the environment. There is some use of te reo Māori by teachers. There are also aspects of the environment that affirm the identity of children from other cultures. Bicultural practices and cultural responsiveness could be strengthened.

Staff value their partnership with whānau and keep them well informed. Parents are encouraged to participate in decision making about centre operations. They also have opportunities to contribute to the assessment and planning of educational programmes. The centre is trialling an online tool that will allow parents easier access to their children's assessment portfolios.

Good governance and management systems are in place to guide centre operations. A comprehensive policy framework guides centre practices. Policies are reviewed regularly. The owner/director works collaboratively with leaders and staff with a focus on ongoing improvement and building professional capability.

There are strong systems in place to build teachers' professional practice. An external mentor is working with centre staff to implement a strengthened appraisal process that aligns with Education Council requirements and encourages teachers to reflect on their practice. Relevant professional learning and development supports teachers' professional growth.

Key Next Steps

The director, centre manager and curriculum mentor agree that key next steps include strengthening:

  • assessment of individual children's learning, so that it more clearly shows children's progress over time

  • programme planning, by clearly identifying the strategies teachers might use to support children's learning

  • approaches to support children's understanding of bicultural Aotearoa New Zealand

  • internal evaluation, by using evaluative questions to guide the centre's inquiries into the effectiveness of current management and teaching practices and to help improve operations.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of School of Fish Childcare 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 School of Fish Childcare will be in three years.

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

2 November 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


Onehunga, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

60 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 38 Girls 37

Ethnic composition

other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

2 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2015

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.