Songbird Early Childhood Centre - 14/06/2018

1 Evaluation of Songbird Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Songbird 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.


Songbird Early Childhood Centre is privately owned and located in the rural Bay of Plenty district of Aongatete, near Katikati. The centre, previously named First Steps Aongatete, was purchased by new owners in September 2017. It is licensed for 25 children from two years to school age. At the time of this review 25 children were enrolled and most identify as Pākehā.

Staff are long standing and have remained the same since the change of ownership. The new owner and two other staff members are qualified early childhood teachers. ERO’s previous review of First Steps in December 2014 identified key next steps about building teachers’ knowledge in literacy and mathematics, bicultural practices, self review for continual improvement, and acknowledgement of each child’s culture and identity in documented assessment. Teachers have made good progress in all areas identified.

Through its philosophy the centre aims to create a home-away-from-home, in an inviting learning environment that is nurturing, creative, fun and secure. In addition, the philosophy promotes positive relationships with children and their families and fostering a genuine community spirit in a mixed-age setting.

The Review Findings

Self review is developing well. Leaders and teachers have made good progress in their understanding and implementation of self review for improvement. Self review is well planned and documented. It includes multiple views gained from staff, children and families. Focused self review in relation to bicultural practice in 2017 has resulted in the stronger presence of Māori language, culture and concepts in the programme.

Teachers confidently incorporate te reo Māori, waiata, karakia and aspects of tikanga Māori into daily practice. Individual family pepeha affirm individual’s culture and identity. Regular self review supports teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of practices that contribute to children’s identity, wellbeing and learning.

Positive and responsive relationships and interactions between teachers and children are highly evident. Teachers have created a calm, settled and unhurried learning environment. They skilfully identify and minimise barriers to participation through inclusive attitudes and practices. Teachers have in-depth knowledge of children and families and take account of their strengths and needs and respond appropriately. Children benefit from relationships and practices that foster their wellbeing, participation and contribution.

Curriculum design is responsive to children's and families strengths, interests and life styles. The centre philosophy is highly evident in practice. Learning opportunities and experiences are enriched through family and community involvement and contributions. Children’s play is valued as meaningful learning. They are trusted and supported to be self managing and confident to lead their own learning. Children demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and confidence as decision makers and learners.

Effective assessment practices are well embedded. Individual portfolios are readily accessible to children and their families. Teachers' observations are regular, documented and build a picture of what children know and are interested in. These documents reflect the complexity of children’s learning and engagement in a wide range of contexts.

Teachers use a range of effective strategies to involve children in learning. They listen carefully, and participate in sustained and meaningful conversations that support children's rich oral language development. There are also many authentic opportunities for children to experience literacy and mathematics in the context of self-initiated play and exploration.

Learning environments encourage children's critical thinking, wonder and creativity. The centre is thoughtfully resourced, carefully maintained and responsive to children’s preferences and ideas. There are high levels of engagement in sustained play and exploration. Children confidently make choices, experience challenge and revisit and build on previous learning.

The centre’s governance and management is effective in promoting positive outcomes for all children. The new owners have prioritised re-visioning of the centre. They have developed policies, procedures, a philosophy and strategic goals specific to Songbird. The experience and knowledge of long-standing staff is valued. Teachers have provided strong continuity for children and families through the change of ownership. The new owners have established strong, sustainable governance to support the ongoing development of the service.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps are to continue to review and develop assessment, planning and evaluation. Areas for consideration include:

  • more consistent documentation of learning linked to individual children’s goals and parent aspirations

  • strengthening parents understanding and recognition of learning through a play-based curriculum

  • further development of individual learning summaries to support children’s learning pathways and positive transition to school.

ERO, the centre owner and administration manager agree that they now need to create and implement a professional learning and development plan. This plan needs to align to individual teacher and centre strategic goals. This development should also include appraisal and professional learning and development specific to the roles of the centre owners.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Songbird 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.

To improve practice the centre owner needs to continue to develop the centre’s policy and procedure framework to include the appointment and induction of new staff.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

14 June 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


Aongatete, near Katikati

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

25 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 14 Girls 11

Ethnic composition

Other European


Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

14 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2014

Education Review

August 2011

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.