Three Little Birds Childcare - Mill Road - 30/08/2018

1 Evaluation of Three Little Birds Childcare - Mill Road

How well placed is Three Little Birds Childcare - Mill Road 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.


Three Little Birds Childcare - Mill Road in Whangarei opened in August 2016. It is licensed for 50 children including eight up to two years of age. Nearly all children and their whānau are Māori.

Operating from a thoughtfully renovated bungalow, children aged from around two years to school age play and learn in spacious indoor and outdoor environments. Babies and toddlers are also catered for in their own indoor and outdoor spaces. Opportunities exist in the learning day for older children to visit with babies and toddlers.

Guided by principles of social justice and Māori kaupapa, the centre's vision is to increase the participation of Māori and other children not yet engaging in early childhood education. Equity funding has been used to purchase three vans, and staff are employed to drive children to and from the centre. Children are offered breakfast on their arrival, and a full-time chef provides children with a cooked lunch and other nutritious snacks.

The service philosophy promotes a strong commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori as tangata whenua o Aotearoa New Zealand. It emphasises the importance of a child-focused curriculum where children's needs, strengths and interests take precedence.

The Review Findings

Children and whānau experience warm, positive and respectful relationships with managers, teachers and staff. Children respond well to predictable routines and the strong sense of whakawhanaungatanga that staff create throughout the learning programmes. This practice includes important tuakana-teina relationships encouraged between younger and older children. As a result of these good approaches, children are increasingly settled in the centre, engaged in their play and learning, and kind to each other.

Children respond very well to the centre's curriculum and learning programmes that are designed on kaupapa Māori principles and practices. They show skill and confidence in their use of te reo Māori through waiata and conversation, and in their understanding of, and respect for tikanga. The growth in children's mana is attributed to the many opportunities they have to be Māori through experiencing their language, culture and identity. This significant feature enhances children's confidence in themselves as learners and leaders throughout the programme.

Teachers work very well as a team, planning for and meeting children's significant care and learning needs. Teachers are especially nurturing with babies and toddlers and work appropriately to plan for the individual needs and dispositions of the youngest children. With the older children, teachers use children's learning stories to plan programmes that respond to their interests, strengths and talents. Literacy and numeracy learning is promoted in the context of children's play and the centre environments enhance children's learning about, and connection to, Papatūānuku.

Teachers reflect on their practice. They adapt approaches and strategies to meet children's emerging interests and needs effectively. A good example of this includes teachers taking small groups of older children on trips outside of the centre, connecting them to the wider community and extending their experiences. Leaders recognise the need to enhance learning programmes to better meet the needs of two year olds in the tuakana play space.

Teachers place a focus on enhancing children's oral language. Leaders are planning for teachers' professional learning to include ways they can further improve children's oral language capability. Teachers support children to build their social skills so that they can become socially and emotionally competent and to be increasingly resilient. In response, children are becoming confident speakers, using language instead of behaviour to express themselves.

The owner/director and operations manager provide governance and management support and systems for all three centres. A centre manager/professional leader provides curriculum leadership and guidance for the teaching team, and support for other staff. Recently established, Ngā Kakano o te Noota Trust works alongside the group of centres to provide support and advocacy for children and whānau.

The leadership team and governance group works collaboratively to drive improvement in the centre. They recognise each other's strengths and skills, and those of the teaching team. Increasingly leaders are providing opportunities for teachers to develop their leadership capability. Leaders and teachers actively promote a positive and supportive culture that benefits adults and children. They are responsive to the challenges whānau face, and recognise their strengths.

Promoting the hauora of children and their whānau is a strong focus of this centre's philosophy. The leadership team forge connections with many external agencies to support children's health and wellbeing.

The owner and leaders provide a strategic and thoughtful approach to providing good quality early learning experiences for local children. Part of this approach includes generously staffing and resourcing the centre, and making well considered staffing decisions. It also includes a strong commitment to a kaupapa Māori approach that is linked clearly to the Three Little Birds philosophy. In addition, robust systems support centre operations and should contribute to future ongoing improvement and sustainability.

Key Next Steps

ERO endorses the centre leaders' self-identified next steps that include:

  • creating stronger alignment between the centre's strategic planning, teachers' professional learning and appraisal

  • supporting teachers to be more evaluative about their appraisal goals and teaching practice

  • aligning policies to a kaupapa Māori approach

  • designing programmes that further enhance children's oral language learning and learning experiences for two years olds.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Three Little Birds Childcare - Mill Road 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 Three Little Birds Childcare - Mill Road will be in three years.

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

30 August 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


Kensington, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

50 children, including up to 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 35 Girls 33

Ethnic composition

other European


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

July 2018

Date of this report

30 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

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.