Small Miracles Pre-School - 13/12/2017

1 Evaluation of Small Miracles Pre-School

How well placed is Small Miracles Pre-School 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.


Small Miracles Pre-School operates from the St Heliers Presbyterian Church and Community Centre. The pre-school has premises and a playground under the church building. The recent construction of a purpose-built Community Centre that adjoins the playground now allows additional space for the centre during wet weather.

The centre attracts children from a wide geographic area, providing sessional and full day services for 30 children over two years of age. Children attend for either full weeks or on days selected by families. They play together in a mixed age group for the majority of the day.

The centre's philosophy clearly spells out the intentions of the service, including Christian values of love, peace, sharing and tolerance. It also states that Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum and Te Tiriti o Waitangi are underpinning documents. The philosophy has recently been reviewed and shared with parents.

The centre has undergone recent changes to staff. At present a lead teacher is working collaboratively with the teaching team to share responsibilities. Several of the teachers have been in the centre for many years. Three of the teachers and the long-term reliever hold full teaching certification.

The Community Centre General Manager oversees Small Miracles on behalf of the Church. The lead teacher reports regularly about the operation of the service.

ERO's 2014 review of the centre reported settled, confident children who enjoyed a caring, inclusive environment. Systems for assessment, planning, evaluation and self-review were in place. Teachers were looking at ways to strengthen consultation with families. Those parents spoken to during this review commented favourably about the daily, informative conversations they have with staff.

The Review Findings

Teachers know children and their families well, and greet them warmly at the start of the day. They encourage children to make decisions about where they want to play, and actively support them. Teaching practices contribute to children's sense of themselves as learners, decision-makers and explorers.

Children enthusiastically initiate and contribute to conversations with teachers and their peers, discussing interests and sharing their thinking. They confidently respond to questions that prompt their thinking and ideas. Teachers support children's acquisition of vocabulary, and invite children to participate in ongoing conversations. Children are articulate and confident speakers.

The philosophy of the centre is clearly evident in the programme. Children have respectful, reciprocal relationships with teachers, and affectionate friendships with their peers. Parents value the inclusive and homely 'feel' in the centre, and the care teachers take of their children. In particular, children with diverse needs are welcomed and nurtured. Teachers foster children's social development.

Teachers encourage children's ownership of their environment. Children's interests guide decisions about programme planning. The learning environment invites children's engagement. It is flexible enough to allow for their emerging interests, and focuses on children's strengths and capabilities. Teachers work to their strengths and interests, and this enhances the programme for children.

Assessment and programme planning processes are currently under review. Teachers are trialling new ways of recording their understanding of children's learning dispositions and needs. Children's portfolios clearly demonstrate teachers' close focus on individual children's progress over time. Teachers could now consider ways of providing more opportunities for children to recognise their own learning and set future goals.

Teachers support children to learn about te ao Māori and the dual cultural heritage of New Zealand. They support each other in using te reo Māori with children. Children understand Māori protocols through daily karakia kai and tuakana/teina relationships between older and younger children. Teachers are aware of the need to continue building their own understanding and confidence in te reo and tikanga Māori.

Leadership in the centre is guiding the promotion of learning and teaching developments. The effectiveness of programmes for children is being sustained and built through good networking with other early childhood services, distributed leadership, and ongoing professional development for staff.

Internal evaluation is providing opportunities for teachers to consider and share their teaching practice and the content of programmes. Teachers should now strengthen their evaluation, by looking more deeply at the impact that their teaching has on children's learning.

Management of the centre is generally efficient and well organised. Annual plans guide day-to-day operations. The development of a strategic plan for the centre is timetabled for early 2018. Appraisal processes are also in place. It is important that these appraisal processes are updated to meet current Education Council requirements. Management should seek external early childhood expertise to appraise the lead teacher, and to support the appraisal of other staff.

Key Next Steps

Centre managers have identified appropriate next steps, including:

  • focusing on bicultural development

  • strengthening teachers' evaluation processes

  • gaining external support for appraisal processes.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Small Miracles Pre-School 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 strengthen policies and procedures, centre leaders have agreed to:

  • redevelop the child protection and the teacher appraisal policies in line with requirements.

[Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, 46, HS31, 1, 2.]

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Small Miracles Pre-School will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

13 December 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


St Heliers, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children over 2 years of age

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 34 Girls 29

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

October 2017

Date of this report

13 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2014

Education Review

February 2011

Education Review

August 2007

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.