Somerville Kindergarten - 28/08/2015

1 Evaluation of Somerville Kindergarten

How well placed is Somerville Kindergarten 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.


Somerville Kindergarten is located in Howick, in the eastern suburbs of Auckland. Since the 2012 ERO report the centre changed from a sessional service to a kindergarten day model (KDM) which enables children to attend sessions similar to school hours. A new head teacher has also been appointed to lead the centre. Teachers and the community are positive towards the KDM model.

The kindergarten provides for up to 40 children over two years of age. It is staffed by the head teacher and three other registered teachers, two teaching assistants, a teacher aide, and an administrator. Māori principles of Manaaki, Mahitanga, Hinengaro and Whanaungatanga are embedded in the kindergarten philosophy. Other key features of the philosophy include the ‘environment as a third teacher’, the development of the children’s perceptual and fundamental skills through physical activity, and being a community of learners.

In 2012 teachers and ERO agreed that streamlining the centre’s self-review processes with a clear focus on extending challenges for children would be a useful next step. Teachers have further strengthened review processes and focused on enriching bicultural practices. There have been continuous improvements to the outside environment to further encourage children’s investigation and exploration. E-portfolios have been introduced to complement paper portfolios. Parents are highly supportive of teachers and continue to be strong partners with teachers in their child’s early childhood education.

The kindergarten operates as part of the Auckland Kindergarten Association, which provides effective leadership, a management framework, support personnel and a programme of professional development for teachers.

After extensive review, consultation and development, the Auckland Kindergarten Association has recently launched a new 10-year strategic direction. Its four strategic pillars/objectives relate to educational excellence, core organisational processes, community engagement and a future focus. These objectives are intended to guide the Association and its kindergartens in their ongoing development. The Association’s approach to bringing about a substantial change in its organisational structure has been carefully considered.

New Association roles have been established to provide more targeted support for kindergarten operations, curriculum and development. Professional development supports kindergarten head teachers in their leadership and management roles. A Quality Improvement Process (QIP) is being implemented to monitor quality in kindergartens and contributes to self review and ongoing improvement.

This review was part of a cluster of eight kindergarten reviews in the Auckland Kindergarten Association.

The Review Findings

Teachers provide a stimulating, challenging learning environment that inspires and supports children to respect and care for natural resources. Children choose from exciting and well resourced areas that provoke child-initiated learning and support sustained play. The environment is literacy rich and features children’s work. Displays that children can refer to are used effectively to reflect te ao Māori and the families of the kindergarten. Children have a strong sense of ownership, belonging and are caring towards others.

Teachers’ sensitive and responsive interactions build on children’s ideas and interests in play and discussion. Sustained conversations promote children’s independent thinking and problem solving abilities. Literacy, mathematics, science and use of digital technologies are naturally woven into meaningful activities. Children’s creativity is nurtured through sensory play, music, art, dance and drama. The focus on play and developing foundation skills through the daily perceptual motor programme provides very effective support for more formal learning. Children have fun as they develop the skills of life-long learners.

Teachers provide a high quality programme that strongly reflects the principles of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, bicultural practices and teaching philosophy. Teachers view all children as competent and capable. They promote equity and inclusion and see all children as successful learners. Children’s social competence and cultural awareness is fostered. Regular excursions and the promotion of respect for people, places and things are also curriculum priorities.

Robust assessment and planning documentation shows how children’s group and individual interests guide the programme. Ways in which teachers respond to child-directed learning are reflected in programme documents, including e-portfolios. Children’s ideas and parents’ aspirations are valued, used and evident in the planned programme. Children’s portfolios include parent contributions, and clearly show children's learning journey and cultural backgrounds.

Very effective self review guides teaching practice and informs programme developments. Teachers are innovative, self motivated and use evidence-based practices to plan their work. They research and seek additional ways to promote positive outcomes for all children and demonstrate leadership in education. These practices contribute to clear enactment of the kindergarten’s philosophy, vision and strategic plan.

Auckland Kindergarten Association systems for monitoring and promoting improvement in kindergarten operations are well established. A variety of useful systems and processes contribute to the teaching team’s self review. This kindergarten’s self review is robust and focused on continuous improvements in educational outcomes for all children. Centre operations are also guided by clear future planning and a shared vision that links to the AKA’s plan. The Association has a strong commitment to biculturalism and to embracing diversity. There are sound systems in place for health, safety and accountability. 

Key Next Steps

The teachers, the Association Education Specialist and ERO agree that key next steps for the kindergarten could include continuing to:

  • explore opportunities to demonstrate leadership in education through sharing innovative practices
  • enhance parent and whānau partnerships through deepening cultural responsiveness and connections.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Somerville 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.

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 Somerville Kindergarten will be in four years. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

28 August 2015 

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 


Howick, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, including up to 0 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

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

28 August 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2012

Education Review

August 2009

Education Review

June 2006

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.