The Cottage Kindergarten - 02/08/2017

1 Evaluation of The Cottage Kindergarten

How well placed is The Cottage 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.


The Cottage Kindergarten, located in central Invercargill, provides full-day education and care for children from 8:15am to 5:15pm. The kindergarten is licensed for 33 children aged from two years to school age. A quarter of the children identify as Māori and a quarter of the children are from diverse cultures and ethnicities.

The kindergarten is governed by Kindergartens South (KS). The kindergarten receives regular support from senior teachers. After the 2013 ERO review, senior teachers supported the head teacher and teachers to develop action plans to address the key next steps. The teaching team has made significant progress in embedding processes for planning, assessment and evaluation. Implementing effective internal evaluation is still a work in progress.

The kindergarten is led by an experienced head teacher and is staffed by teachers and support staff. Since the last ERO report, the outdoor spaces have been extended and developed to better provide for children's learning in an all-day programme.

This review was part of a cluster of 14 kindergarten reviews in the Southland Kindergarten Association (trading as Kindergartens South).

The Review Findings

The head teacher is effectively supporting teachers to promote positive outcomes for all children. This is evident in the clear and high expectations for supporting children's learning, and useful systems to build and share knowledge in the teaching team. The teaching team makes good use of professional learning and development to improve its teaching practices.

The kindergarten vision, and long and short-term plans have not been developed in consultation with whānau. Currently these reflect what teachers believe are the desired outcomes and key priorities for children's learning. The next step is for teachers to find authentic ways to collaborate with whānau to develop a longer-term vision to guide the kindergarten's future direction.

The well-developed philosophy clearly identifies desired learning outcomes for children. It shows teachers' commitment to New Zealand's bicultural heritage through key concepts of whanaungatanga and tuakana/teina. Teachers view children as capable and confident learners. Teachers plan and implement programmes that are responsive to the diverse strengths, interests and capabilities of the children. They are creating an environment where Māori children and their whānau know that their culture is valued. They intentionally include Māori perspectives in the programme and have an ongoing focus to build their own bicultural practices.

Teachers acknowledge and value families' diverse cultural backgrounds. They have identified they will continue to work in partnership with whānau to provide programmes that are responsive of every child's language, culture and identity, and make use of the expertise that parents have to offer. Teachers need to develop planning to guide and monitor the effectiveness of this work.

Children with diverse learning and behaviour needs are very well supported. Teachers, with the support of KS and external agencies, develop detailed planning and implement specific strategies leading to improved outcomes for these children.

Teachers provide a wide range of interesting experiences for children, including a weekly outing for older children to experience nature in a local reserve. There are also many opportunities for children to:

  • hear and use te reo Māori, waiata and karakia and learn about Māori legends
  • learn about early literacy and mathematics through their play
  • be imaginative and explore
  • be challenged in their learning and make choices
  • develop dispositions of empathy and skills to relate well to one another.

Teachers have developed effective systems for assessment, planning and evaluation. These enable teachers to:

  • gather and respond to parents' and whānau wishes for their children's learning

  • share their knowledge and collectively know the children well as individuals and learners

  • plan appropriate programmes for individuals and the diversity of groups, for example, boys and toddlers

  • deliberately design the programme and decide how to structure time, space and use of resources to support learning.

Teachers have clear ideas about the intended learning for children in the group planning. However, they need to make this learning more known to parents.

Internal evaluation is used to make improvements. Aspects of the process need to be further strengthened to be fully effective.

The kindergarten benefits from well-planned and ongoing professional learning and development and is well supported by the senior teachers. A new appraisal system is being introduced, however further development is required to include expectations for observations and explicit links to Tātaiako.

The kindergarten receives good support from Kindergartens South (KS). The KS board has a clear strategic vision that outlines key priorities for development. The next step is to ensure explicit alignment of these priorities to each kindergarten's long-term planning. The board has identified that internal evaluation practice is not strong at board level. The board needs to receive evaluative reporting of how well these plans and other initiatives have been enacted and the impact on children’s learning.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps to promote positive outcomes for all children are for the head teacher and teachers to:

  • find ways to work in collaboration with parents and whānau and to reflect their aspirations and expectations within the vision, and long and short-term planning

  • continue to show in the programme and documentation how they value and respond to all children's language culture and identity

  • continue to strengthen bicultural practices

  • strengthen and use internal evaluation practices to inform decision making.

The key next steps for the KS board are to:

  • ensure the appraisal system continues to be developed and embedded

  • develop and use rigorous internal evaluation practices

  • ensure explicit alignment of kindergarten planning to implement the KS strategic goals

  • receive evaluative reporting of progress towards the strategic goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of The Cottage 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 The Cottage Kindergarten will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

2 August 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

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

33 children aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 23

Girls: 19

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

May 2017

Date of this report

2 August 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

November 2013

Education Review

April 2009

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.