The Walnut Tree Preschool - 21/05/2018

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

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


The Walnut Tree Preschool provides full-day education and care for up to 35 children aged from birth to school age. It is privately owned. The staff are qualified early childhood teachers.

Since the 2015 ERO review, the outdoor area has been further developed to promote exploration and stimulate children's engagement in activities for learning.

The two experienced centre leaders have built a collaborative teaching team who share the centre's vision for children's care, wellbeing and learning.

The centre is managing the challenges faced by the local community following the Canterbury earth quakes.

The centre has strengthened aspects of internal evaluation and programme planning. Leaders have identified the need to continue to seek ways to involve parents and whānau.

Review Findings

The head teacher and teachers are promoting positive outcomes for children by providing a nurturing, respectful, welcoming environment focused on fostering and progressing learning. Children and their whānau are made to feel welcome and involved in the centre.

Children benefit from a rich curriculum that is well aligned to Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and to the Reggio Emilio philosophy.

Children experience learning that responds to their strengths and interests. Their needs are quickly identified, including those who need additional or specialist support. The language and culture of the children are valued and included in the daily programme. For example, sign language is learnt by all. Centre leaders are seeking to further strengthen teachers' use of te reo Māori and valuing of Pacific cultures in the programme.

Leaders and teachers have positive and effective relationships. They collaborate well by communicating with each other and responding quickly to children’s learning needs. They skilfully use open-ended questions to encourage and develop children’s interests, creativity, exploration, curiosity and problem solving through a well-planned programme.

Children under two years of age receive consistent nurturing and responsive caregiving from a key teacher who knows them well. The teacher is sensitive to their individual cues and engages in positive one-to-one interactions that promote their learning, development and wellbeing.

Teachers actively encourage children to have respectful relationships. They maintain a strong culture of nurture and belonging. The indoor and outdoor environments are presented in ways that provoke children to explore and make sense of the world around them.

Children's transitions into and through the centre are well supported and responsive to the needs of each child. Teachers promote positive dispositions for learning and integrate literacy and mathematics into children's play. Readiness for school is part of an ongoing internal evaluation aligned with the centre's commitment to both the early childhood curriculum and the philosophy of Reggio Emilio.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for the head teacher and teachers are to continue to:

  • build leaders' and teachers' understanding and use of self review/internal evaluation
  • strengthen culturally responsive practices for Māori, Pacific and other ethnic cultures
  • refine the strategic plan to more usefully reflect the key priorities for teaching and learning and ongoing improvement
  • refine the current planning and assessment model, in order to more fully explore meaningful ways of recording and sharing children's learning and development.

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.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

21 May 2018 

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 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys:   19

Girls:   17

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


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

April 2018

Date of this report

21 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2015

Education Review

July 2011

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.