Te Akonga Early Learning Centre - 06/04/2017

1 Evaluation of Te Akonga Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Te Akonga Early Learning 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.


Te Akonga Early Learning Centre, located in central Pukekohe, provides education and care for children from three months to school age. This community-based centre is governed by a trust made up of parents and staff members. The centre is licensed for 50 children, including 14 aged under two years. Its roll of 54 includes 22 Maori children. The centre operates two age-based rooms for children up to and over the age of three years.

Since the previous ERO review in February 2014 a centre manager and one new team leader have been appointed. While there has been some changes to the teaching team, the centre continues to benefit from consistent staffing. The centre has a positive ERO reporting history and has responded positively to the key next steps in the 2014 ERO report about continuing to strengthen teaching practice.

The centre's philosophy makes a commitment to meeting the needs of all children and families.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from participating in a broad and rich programme that is responsive to emerging interests. The programme strongly reflects the principles and strands of Te Whāriki (the early childhood curriculum). A special feature of the centre's programme is the effective approach to supporting children with additional learning needs. Meaningful partnerships with families support an inclusive approach to responding to each child's learning and development. Other strengths of the programme include:

  • regular trips into the local and wider community, including fortnightly visits to a local native bush area by older children

  • well-managed transition processes for children as they enter the centre and move between the two age-based rooms

  • ready access for children to a good variety of quality resources and equipment including natural materials

  • the active participation of whānau in the programme and centre activities.

Children under the age of two years benefit from caring and nurturing relationships with teachers. The implementation of a 'key teacher' system supports strong and meaningful partnerships with whānau that assist staff to follow home-care routines.

Māori children's language, culture and identity is increasingly acknowledged and celebrated by:

  • teachers use of te reo Māori in their daily interactions with children, especially in the under three room

  • celebrations of important events for Māori such as Matariki

  • opportunities to participate in kapahaka

  • incorporation of tikanga Māori practices in the daily programme.

Centre leaders acknowledge the importance of further developing and extending on these current approaches in recognising New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

Centre planning and assessment practices have been strengthened. Attractively presented individual learning portfolios, which are also available in a digital format, provide whānau with a valuable record of their child's participation in the programme. They are increasingly being used by teachers to identify and respond to children's next learning steps. Children's learning is being well supported by these improved assessment practices.

Teachers provide good quality care and education for children. They have respectful and trusting relationships with children and whānau. Teachers use a wide range of effective strategies that support children's language development and problem solving skills. They actively participate alongside children in meaningful play and support children to collaborate and play together. Teachers should now consider strategies that add greater complexity to children's play, especially for older boys, and ways to incorporate literacy learning opportunities into a broader range of play. Effective teaching practice supports children to develop as confident learners.

Centre leaders are knowledgeable and well informed. They work well together and are committed to working alongside staff and whānau to implement the centre's philosophy. The new centre manager has a wide range of useful skills, and knowledge of the community, that support her to undertake her management role. The two team leaders provide good quality professional leadership for teachers and children. They are respected by teachers and model effective practice. Leaders are well supported by experienced staff members, many of whom have specialist training and expertise in working with children with additional learning needs. A useful teacher appraisal process has been implemented. Providing teachers with regular documented feedback about their practices is likely to strengthen this process and further build teacher capability. Effective leadership contributes to promoting positive outcomes for children.

Trustees provide supportive governance. They are well led by a respected chairperson. Comprehensive policies are regularly reviewed, in consultation with staff and whānau, and guide centre operations. A strategic plan that reflects community aspirations sets the framework for ongoing development. Trustees should consider incorporating the centre's commitment to further building teacher and leadership capability in this plan. Supportive and well-informed governance underpins the centre's commitment to providing an inclusive service for all children.

Key Next Steps

The key next step for leaders and teachers is to implement a strategic approach to further developing the centre's curriculum. Particular priority should be given to:

  • strengthening self-review processes

  • practices that reflect New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Te Akonga Early Learning 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 Te Akonga Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

6 April 2017

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 



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

50 children, including up to 14 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 33

Girls 21

Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

6 April 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

August 2013

Education Review

April 2010

Education Review

March 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.