St Heliers Kindergarten - 28/08/2015

1 Evaluation of St Heliers Kindergarten

How well placed is St Heliers 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.


St Heliers Kindergarten is a well established service located east of Auckland. Since the 2012 ERO report a new head teacher has been appointed and the centre has changed from a sessional service to the ‘kindergarten day’ model which enables children to attend sessions similar to school hours. Teachers and the community are positive about this model.

The kindergarten provides for up to 40 children over two years of age. It is staffed by a head teacher and three other registered teachers, a teaching assistant, a teacher aide and an administrator. Developing a ‘culture of respect’ with families, learning through play and successful inclusion are integral to the kindergarten philosophy.

In 2012 ERO agreed that teachers continue to focus on embedding effective teaching and learning strategies to strengthen outcomes for children. Teachers have critiqued, reviewed and strengthened practices. Professional development has supported them in doing this and it has been beneficial in enriching provisions for children. Significant improvement to the outside play area, that includes landscaping and addition of a totem pole that represents the cultures of the families attending, has also enhanced the learning environment. Parents continue to be well informed and highly supportive of the kindergarten teachers and programme.

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 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 contribute 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 affirm and build on the strengths and knowledge children bring to their play. They value children’s language and culture and the experiences that they bring with them. They provide a careful balance of challenge and support for children in authentic learning experiences. Respectful and responsive relationships nurture children’s emotional wellbeing and underpin teachers' partnerships with parents/whānau.

Teachers are highly effective in enriching children’s learning through play. Their sensitive and skilful interactions extend children’s ideas, language and knowledge in play and discussion. They encourage children to be creative, imaginative and curious. Literacy, mathematics and science are naturally integrated into daily experiences. Children use information and communication technologies (ICT) as part of their play. Supporting children’s transition to school is carefully considered and well managed. Teachers effectively promote positive educational outcomes for all children.

Teachers implement a high quality curriculum that is strongly responsive to children’s ideas, based on Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and promotes Māori language and culture. Bicultural practice, physical activity and celebration of each child’s heritage are key features of the kindergarten programme and teaching practices. Comprehensive documentation shows how children’s interests and strengths and parents aspirations guide the programme. Children’s portfolios are treasured, and include children’s voice and contributions by families. They clearly show the continuity of learning for children and reflect children’s language and culture.

Children learn in a richly resourced and stimulating learning environment that is welcoming and inviting to adults and children. Interesting play areas support children’s engagement in play for sustained periods of time. Wall displays reflect teachers’ respect for tangata whenua, Pacific communities and children’s family backgrounds. Teachers and children share a strong appreciation of the natural environment. This is evident in the enjoyment and pride children show as they tend to the garden and are physically active in the attractively landscaped outdoor area.

Children are capable, eager learners and confident communicators. They have fun and engage in collaborative purposeful play. They show concern and empathy for others, and an understanding of the concepts of fairness and responsibility. They self manage routines, know teacher expectations and have a positive attitude to learning and relating to others.

The teaching team is reflective and works collaboratively to implement the kindergarten philosophy. Teachers benefit from the head teacher’s ethical and professional leadership. They maximise opportunities for children to have leadership opportunities. There is a culture of continuous self improvement that is well supported by research and professional development.

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 linked 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 teaching team and the Education Specialist-Curriculum and Pedagogy have identified that appropriate priorities for ongoing development could include continuing to:

  • deepen the evaluative aspects of self review
  • explore strategies to deepen children’s thinking.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of St Heliers 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 St Heliers 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


St Heliers, 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 28, 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

April 2012


Education Review

May 2009


Education Review

January 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.