Starfish Early Childhood Centre - 29/02/2016

1 Evaluation of Starfish Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Starfish 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.


Starfish Early Childhood Centre is a privately owned centre in Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa. It provides full-day care and education for children aged from two to five years. The owner, supervisor, and many of the staff are experienced teachers and long-serving members of the centre. The premises have been thoughtfully renovated and resourced to create an attractive and stimulating learning environment.

The centre’s philosophy is guided by principles of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Teachers provide an environment where children are valued as individuals, and where their curiosity is encouraged and extended. Children benefit from the warm and caring relationships that are evident in their interactions with teachers.

The centre has an inclusive, family-oriented approach. Staff are committed to developing strong relationships and effective communication with families/whānau. Parents affirm the sense of family evident in the centre and the care and education provided for their children.

The centre has a positive ERO reporting history. Staff have responded well to recommendations from the 2013 ERO review.

The Review Findings

Children are settled and engaged in their play. They are confident and articulate, and have positive interactions with each other and with adults. Effective teaching practices foster child-directed play, stimulate children’s language skills, thinking and creativity, and facilitate sustained, complex play. Children are well supported to develop independence and social skills. Teachers skilfully incorporate early literacy and numeracy learning in meaningful ways. Centre leaders agree that literacy and numeracy could be more explicitly incorporated and visible in the outdoor play activities and environment.

Learning programmes are based on children’s emerging interests and underpinned by Te Whāriki principles, strands and goals. Teachers use the notice, recognise and respond model well to assess and plan learning programmes which incorporate centre-wide themes, group and individual focuses. Good systems have been developed to build teachers’ understanding and implementation of this model, including those relating to assessment and planning documentation.

The centre is very well resourced and teachers encourage children to use resources in a variety of ways. Separate rooms and outdoor areas provide age-appropriate care and learning activities. Children are also able to interact with all staff and children of other ages, and to enjoy the varied learning areas that the environment offers. Children’s transitions within the centre are well managed and responsive to individual children’s requirements. Staff have very good processes to support older children’s transition to school and are continuing to enhance these processes.

Staff have established strong relationships with family and whānau, local schools and wider community. They are continuing to explore ways to extend these positive learning partnerships. Teachers use a range of strategies to provide parents with good information about their children’s learning and development. Parents have opportunities to contribute to centre programmes, reviews and decision making. The introduction of an electronic system for sharing children’s learning is enhancing communication and enabling greater input from families into their children’s learning.

Centre leaders have strengthened ways in which they reflect the bicultural heritage of New Zealand. They have also identified this as an area for further development, including identifying staff leadership capability in this area.

Centre staff have a clear philosophy, vision and strategic direction, which is supported by effective systems and practices. ERO supports centre leaders’ intentions to further develop strategic planning processes.

Staff work collaboratively in a culture of reflection and ongoing improvement. The owner and head teacher provide high quality professional leadership. Professional learning and development is purposeful and well considered. The centre owner has improved staff appraisal processes and is continuing to strengthen these to incorporate more formal teacher reflection. Useful self-review processes have been established and leaders are continuing to refine and extend these.

A shared leadership model is providing good opportunities for teachers to take on responsibilities and ownership within the centre. With some recent staff changes, centre leaders are restructuring the leadership model. They are considering ways in which they can further increase distributed leadership to continue to build capacity and sustainability.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre managers agree that the next key steps to extend existing good practice are to:

  • further develop bicultural practices and increase teacher confidence and capability in the use of te reo me ōna tikanga Māori
  • continue to refine and extend recently developed appraisal processes
  • increase the depth and evaluative nature of teachers’ reflection on their practice
  • further develop annual planning to more closely support centre strategic goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Starfish 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Starfish Early Childhood Centre will be in four years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

29 February 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


Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa

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 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 33 Girls 29

Ethnic composition









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

January 2016

Date of this report

29 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2013


Education Review

March 2010


Education Review

May 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.