The Cottage Kindergarten - 06/05/2020

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

The Cottage Kindergarten is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


The Cottage Kindergarten provides education and care for up to 33 children from aged two years to school age. The learning community consists of whānau from a variety of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. The philosophy promotes the concepts of whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, ukaipotanga and matauranga, and aims to support learning in an environment that is nurturing, respectful, and inclusive.

This is one of 23 kindergartens within the Kindergartens South Association (KS). KS is managed by a board of governors and a general manager. The general manager and a team of senior teachers support head teachers and staff working within each kindergarten. At the time of this review the head teacher was working part-time in a temporary leadership position. The kindergarten was also drawing on a pool of regular relievers, familiar with the service and the children, to cover ratio requirements.

Since the August 2017 ERO report, there have been a number of changes within the board of governors and across KS management. The next steps for the association and the kindergarten included to clearly define and align the philosophy and vision and further develop systems to support development and improvement of the operation and kindergarten practices. The association, general manager and kindergarten leaders have made very good progress addressing the recommendations in the 2017 ERO report.

Further developments highlighted in the August 2017 ERO report for The Cottage Kindergarten, included the need to improve information sharing and involvement of parents and families, being clear about learning priorities, showing how teachers respond to children’s language culture and identity and strengthening internal evaluation. There has been good progress in addressing the next steps, however due to staffing changes these also continue to be areas for improvement.

This review was one of a cluster of seven kindergartens within KS.

The Review Findings

Teachers have developed a shared understanding about what they value for learning. They use a range of effective practices that help children learn in a calm and safe setting. They regularly adapt the environment and their practices to provide for the changing needs of children and to support social and emotional development. There are a number of transient families. Teachers respond to individual children's learning during the time they attend. Teachers use of a range of effective strategies to build children's confidence, independence and resilience.

Teachers value input from parents, whānau and the community and are developing good communication systems to build learning partnerships. They seek external support to help ensure children and those who are English Language Learners, are able to be supported, heard, and feel included.

The development of teachers understanding, skills and knowledge around Te Ao Māori and a holistic approach to wellbeing, is helping children's development. Programmes to support coordination, brain development and build resilience are having a positive impact. Children are also becoming familiar with karakia, waiata and te reo Māori which is helping to promote success for Māori and an understanding of New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

Features of the centre that have a positive impact on children's learning include:

  • access to a wide range of resources and experiences which align well to the kindergarten's learning priorities and children's interests

  • good leadership that is building team cohesion and a shared understanding of curriculum and delivery

  • the team seeking and using external input as needed, to help support children with additional needs.

A useful system is in place to track individual learning and ensure all children are regularly assessed and supported to meet learning goals and realise parents' aspirations. Assessment, planning and evaluation processes are continually being refined and improved. Internal evaluation processes are becoming established and reviews show that teachers' participation in professional development leads to positive outcomes for children.

KS leaders provide effective support and mentoring for the head teacher and teachers within the kindergarten. KS continues to make significant progress in improving the systems and process for the effective governance and management of the association.

Key Next Steps

Kindergarten leaders and teachers need to continue to develop and:

  • implement effective assessment, planning and evaluation processes, including showing how well they promote and further enhance children's culture, language and identity

  • build positive learning partnerships with parents, families and community

  • finalise and implement their annual plan

  • implement effective internal evaluation processes to regularly evaluate the impact of the curriculum and how well they achieve the kindergarten's learning priorities.

Next steps for the KS board and managers are to further develop and implement:

  • the KS strategic intent and annual plan

  • the service's guiding document Te Kaupapa mo nga akonga tatou

  • internal evaluation processes and practices.

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.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)

Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

6 May 2020

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, over the age of 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 17

Girls 14

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


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

February 2020

Date of this report

6 May 2020

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

August 2017

Education Review

November 2013

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.