The Cottage Kindergarten Ltd - 02/11/2016

1 Evaluation of The Cottage Kindergarten Ltd

How well placed is The Cottage Kindergarten Ltd 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 Ltd was established in 2011 and is located on a rural property in Waimauku. It provides early childhood education for up to 30 children from two to five years of age. Children enjoy a mixed-age programme in a spacious and inviting environment that has a rural outlook. Most families live in the local community. The centre philosophy has a focus on capable, competent and resilient children who learn through play. Centre staff use Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, as a framework and incorporate tested theories and ideas from recent research that support education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Teachers believe that the learning environment plays a teaching role and they are very committed to bicultural practices. Five teachers have full certification, one teacher has provisional certification and there is one teacher aide. Teachers work as a collaborative team and have developed very good relationships with parents and whānau

The centre owner provides leadership for the centre. She has responsibility for management and administration systems, and a framework of policies and procedures. She works collaboratively with staff to review and refine governance, management and administration systems and processes.

In 2013 ERO identified many positive features of the service. Caring relationships and a child-centred curriculum were supporting children to become confident, self-managing learners. Teachers had strong partnerships with families and were developing children's assessment portfolios. At that time teachers identified the need explore ways to refine planning and assessment to better reflect children’s progress and learning. Planning, evaluation and assessment practices have continued to evolve with teachers’ professional learning. Teachers have used self review well to sustain and improve good practices.

The Review Findings

Children are happy, engaged and highly independent. They are also confident, responsive and articulate learners. They competently settle themselves in play areas and make deliberate choices about resources they need. Many persist at activities for prolonged periods, problem solving and experimenting with new ideas as challenges arise.

Children lead their own learning and have many opportunities for exploration and imagination. They are friendly and caring towards their peers, and often work cooperatively. In this focused and calm setting children use literacy, art and science for real purposes and are becoming familiar with the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. Children sing waiata to welcome visitors and have access to a range of resources that reflect te ao Māori.

Teachers provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for children and their families. Of particular note is the responsive and caring way that children with additional needs are supported. Teachers prioritise strategies that will enable children to become independent, capable learners who work well with others and actively explore their environment. They skilfully engage children in play that prompts them to collaborate and investigate ideas.

Teachers constantly interact with children and use open questions well to facilitate reciprocal conversations and challenge children's thinking. Adults’ respectful conversations acknowledge children's competence and empower them to make their own decisions. Teachers are currently reviewing the effectiveness of the programme in meeting the learning and developmental needs of two year old children.

Teachers are reflective practitioners who are responsive to children's interests. They have reviewed and strengthened planning and assessment practices. Planning has a stronger focus on noticing, recognising and responding to children's individual learning. It is also more purposeful and teachers frequently discuss strategies for extending learning. Teachers have strengthened assessment in portfolios by focusing more on individual children's dispositions, interests and progress over time.

Parents are encouraged to be partners in their children’s learning. Teachers provide many opportunities for families to participate in the programme, contribute to reviews and be aware of their children’s progress. Parents discuss and contribute to learning stories and portfolios. Parents, teachers and children share information and lots of stories on a daily basis when children arrive at, and leave the centre.

Leadership is effective. A clear sense of strategic direction has been established. The centre owner has built a culture of professionalism, collaboration and internal evaluation. There is a continuous focus on ongoing improvement and positive outcomes for children. Teachers' strengths and interests are identified and they are encouraged to use these and take on leadership roles.

The centre is very well placed to continue building the collective capacity of teachers. Appraisal processes are well developed and include in-depth reflections and critique of teaching and learning. Teachers are supported to participate in both internal and external professional development as individuals and as a group. The centre owner and teachers have plans to build their coaching and mentoring skills.

The centre has sound and functional systems and processes. The vision, strategic and annual plans are well aligned and show in-depth review and strategic thinking to prioritise future developments. They build teacher capability and focus on outcomes for children and their families. The centre philosophy is highly evident in the programme. Internal evaluation is well understood and embedded and is resulting in improvements in teaching and learning, and centre-wide practices.

Key Next Steps

Centre leaders agree that their next steps for development include:

  • more explicitly linking children's assessment and the programme to children's dispositions and learning progress

  • further strengthening programme evaluation to focus on learning outcomes and the effectiveness of teaching strategies.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

2 November 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


Waimauku, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 0 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 26 Boys 19

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

August 2016

Date of this report

2 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

September 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 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.