Seashells Early Childhood Centre - 15/01/2016

1 Evaluation of Seashells Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Seashells 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.


Seashells Early Childhood Centre has operated at Coopers Beach, Mangonui since May 2014. Originally providing full day education and care for children over two years, the centre was extended in September 2015 to cater for a small number of children under two years old. Most of the 50 children on the roll are Māori and staff represent a diverse range of cultures. This is the first review of the centre.

The owner has a strong commitment to serving the community well. This has resulted in her providing a largely free service for all children which includes food as well as transport to and from the centre for many children. The owner has established trusting relationships with parents and whānau through daily communication and regular consultation.

During the early stages of development the owner has been the only fully registered teacher. She is supporting four teachers through to full registration and encourages whole team participation in professional development opportunities. While programmes are underpinned by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, the owner aspires to provide a service that also reflects Reggio Emilia philosophy and practices. She continues to build teachers’ knowledge and skills with a view to achieving this goal.

The Review Findings

Children are happy and settled in the centre. They have positive relationships and show a sense of belonging in an environment that promotes their care and wellbeing. Children make choices about their play confidently and often work cooperatively with their friends. They benefit from opportunities to explore their interests through ongoing projects and adults’ expectation that they will develop self-management skills. Children are capable communicators who readily initiate conversations with adults and interact well with each other to support their play.

Babies and toddlers are relaxed and contented in the spacious new area. The high ratio of adults enables close individual support for these children. They enjoy easy access to the outdoor environment and are warmly encouraged as they investigate resources and practise new skills.

Teachers support children to engage with resources. They frequently ask questions to encourage children's thinking and to make links with children's interests and previous experiences. As a multicultural team the staff understand the importance of valuing languages, culture and identity. The team working with babies is a good model for other staff as they develop their knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori.

Teachers are continuing to develop their systems for planning, assessment and evaluation. Currently teachers are not formally documenting programme plans to guide teaching strategies or to ensure they integrate learning across key curriculum areas. While they are making good progress in assessing children's learning an increased focus on evaluating the quality of learning outcomes could help teachers improve the depth and complexity of children's learning experiences. Strengthening their skills and knowledge in these areas would provide a sound foundation for teachers to then develop aspects of their philosophy.

Teachers have adopted the Reggio Emilia philosophy of regarding the learning environment as the ‘third teacher’ (after parents and staff). They should now reflect on the extent to which play areas support this approach. Teachers need to help children to maintain tidy and inviting play areas if they expect the environment to provoke children's imagination and challenge them to explore.

Parents who were interviewed expressed enthusiasm for the centre. They appreciate the extent of the service provided and the relationships their children share with teachers. They value the quality of communication they have with the owner and staff, and opportunities to share their aspirations. Parents are pleased to receive booklets of their child’s learning stories every few months. They view the multicultural activities and opportunities for children to experience te reo and tikanga Māori as strengths of the centre programme.

The centre owner is a compassionate leader who seeks to support and empower her staff. She is developing appropriate management systems and provides generous non-contact and meeting time for teachers’ administrative tasks and shared reflections. They have undertaken several reviews of their practices, but could now formalise the records of these inquiries. During initial centre development the owner has focused on managing the centre. It is timely now for her to enhance her role as mentor and coach to staff as they work towards full teacher registration.

Key Next Steps

The owner agrees that key next steps for centre development could include:

  • establishing a long term strategic plan and an annual action plan to implement strategic goals
  • providing teachers with curriculum leadership roles to strengthen their ownership of the programme
  • continuing to develop effective systems for planning, assessment and evaluation to enhance the depth of children's learning
  • further refining self-review processes to improve documentation and establish a regular review cycle
  • improving the appraisal process to enhance performance management, clarify alignment with the Practising Teacher Criteria and initiate appraisal for herself.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Seashells 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.

In order to clarify guidance for staff, the owner and teachers should review personnel, and health and safety policies and procedures.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 January 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


Mangonui, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

48 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 26 Boys 24

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

November 2015

Date of this report

15 January 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports

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.