The Walnut Tree Preschool - 10/04/2015

1 Evaluation of The Walnut Tree Preschool

How well placed is The Walnut Tree Preschool to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

The Walnut Tree Preschool is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


The Walnut Tree Preschool is a small, privately owned preschool in Aranui. Since the 2011 ERO report, the ownership and name of the centre have changed. There have also been some changes in staffing. The owner/operators are part of the teaching team. This team is made up of four qualified teachers and one teacher in training.

The centre is licensed for 35 children including up to five children under-two-years of age. The owner/operators are planning to only enrol children over the age of two years from the end of 2015.

The centre caters for the needs of a diverse community. Some enrolments are short term as families relocate following the Christchurch earthquakes. At the time of this review, the outdoor area was undergoing substantial redevelopment.

The teaching team has made good progress in addressing the areas for development from the 2011 ERO review. These include assessment and planning practices, curriculum self review and promoting children’s thinking and reasoning.

The Review Findings

The preschool’s philosophy underpins the curriculum and is strongly evident in the environment and teaching practices. The teaching team works well together and has a shared commitment to the philosophy. Teachers provide a warm, welcoming and inclusive environment for children, parents and whānau. They focus on continually strengthening learning partnerships and engagement with parents and whānau in a range of practical ways to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Children are well supported through caring and nurturing interactions. Teachers are highly responsive to the individual needs, cultures and preferences of children. Children benefit from sensitive and flexible transitions within the centre. Teachers actively encourage children to have respect for themselves, others and the environment. They provide positive and consistent behaviour management to guide and build on children’s social learning skills.

Children actively participate in learning experiences in a well-organised and attractively presented environment. The child-centred curriculum identifies and extends children’s learning interests and curiosity. Teachers purposely present learning experiences in an open-ended manner to promote children’s thinking and reasoning skills. Good use is made of natural materials. Teachers integrate the use of te reo and tikanga Māori in ways that are meaningful to children and foster respect for the Māori culture.

The owner/operators have developed some useful systems and processes to support the efficient operation of the service. They follow an effective model to guide long-term and annual planning for the ongoing improvement of the service. Self review is well supported through the teaching team’s increasingly reflective practices.

Key Next Steps

The owners/operators have identified, and ERO agrees, that the next steps are to continue:

  • strengthening in-depth self-review processes
  • embedding recent changes made to the appraisal process
  • developing planning and evaluation practices to give greater emphasis to teaching strategies and their impact on learning outcomes for children
  • building on strategies for engaging parents in learning partnerships.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of The Walnut Tree Preschool 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 Walnut Tree Preschool will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

10 April 2015

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

35 children, including up to 5 aged under two

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 27; Girls 21

Ethnic composition




Other ethnicities





Percentage of qualified teachers 0-49% 50-79% 80% Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

10 April 2015

Most recent ERO report 

No previous ERO reports


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.