Symonds Street Early Childhood Centre - 22/02/2019

1 Evaluation of Symonds Street Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Symonds Street Early Childhood Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Symonds Street Early Childhood Centre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Symonds Street Early Childhood Centre is one of six early childhood centres including two kōhanga reo that are owned and operated by the University of Auckland. The centre is licensed for 36 children over two years of age.

Children attending the centre have diverse ethnic backgrounds and heritage languages. The centre's philosophy is underpinned by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and the Treaty of Waitangi. Teachers aim to adapt philosophical approaches to suit their culturally diverse community.

The University of Auckland's early childhood reference group is responsible for governance and management of the centre. The teaching team includes a centre manager who provides professional leadership, six other registered teachers, and one teacher in training.

The 2015 ERO report noted how well teachers supported children and families to develop a sense of belonging. It also noted that teachers engaged children in meaningful interactions and conversations. These positive practices continue to be present. Areas for development included philosophy review, assessment, transitions, and bicultural practice. Good progress has been made in these areas.

The Review Findings

Children are supported to settle, and they demonstrate a sense of belonging at the centre. Interactions among children and teachers are warm, caring, nurturing and responsive. Children are confident and strong communicators, sharing their ideas and making choices about their play. They consider other children's ideas, and look after each other's wellbeing.

Teachers use the indoor and outdoor spaces to create a thoughtfully prepared environment for learning. Children move freely within the learning spaces, choosing from a wide variety of accessible resources. They benefit from opportunities to sustain their play, and they can play cooperatively for long periods of time.

Teachers are intentionally inclusive of children with additional learning needs. They particularly support children and families from diverse cultures. They know children and families well, and work in individual ways with them. Teachers promote te reo Māori in the programme and in their documentation for children, whānau and the teaching team.

Parents who spoke to ERO reported their appreciation of the support their children have received to settle, grow, develop and learn. Transitions into the centre and to school are well supported. Teachers aim to educate parents about the values of play-based learning, and how they implement Te Whāriki. Wall displays and programme books provide opportunities for children and parents to revisit centre events and celebrations.

Teachers use Te Whāriki to guide programme planning and assessments. Individual and group learning stories form a part of children's portfolios. Teachers use a 'notice, recognise and respond' format to document the assessment of children's learning. Some portfolios show children's learning progress over time. Teachers should ensure that each child's individual learning progress is documented.

Internal evaluation is well developed. Teachers are collaborative, and have a shared understanding around prioritising actions to result in positive changes. They could now focus evaluations more on the impact of centre practices on outcomes for children and whānau.

Leadership changes have been well managed. The newly appointed centre manager is supported well to grow her leadership skills. She is establishing improved systems and processes, and leading a review of the centre's philosophy. A sound framework of policies and procedures guides centre operations. The strategic plan could be more centre specific and aligned with the annual plan to provide a shared vision and direction for the centre.

Teachers have opportunities to access relevant professional learning to help them to improve their teaching practice. They could evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching practice against the newly reviewed philosophy.

Key Next Steps

Leaders and teachers agree that key next steps include:

  • making the role of the teacher in supporting children's learning more visible in centre documentation

  • providing children with more opportunities to think critically and lead their learning

  • recording the impact of internal evaluation on children's outcomes

  • evaluating progress towards achieving the centre's strategic goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Symonds Street 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 current practice, leaders and teachers should improve the recording of:

  • medication administration and parent signatures

  • earthquake drills

  • the involvement of parents and teachers in policy review.

Steve Tanner
Director Review and Improvement Services Northern
Northern Region

22 February 2019

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


Auckland CBD

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

36 children aged over 2 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 20 Boys 20

Ethnic composition

Latin American
other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2019

Date of this report

22 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2015

Education Review

May 2012

Education Review

August 2008

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.