Tī Kōuka Free Kindergarten - 07/10/2014

1 Evaluation of Ti Kōuka Free Kindergarten

How well placed is Ti Kōuka Free Kindergarten 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.


Ti Kōuka Free Kindergarten is located in Timaru and opened in October 2013. It is one of eleven kindergartens in the South Canterbury Free Kindergarten Association (SCFKA). It is the only one that provides a full-day education and care service for children aged from birth to five years.

Forty children may attend the centre and programmes are provided for them in two separate areas. These are known as ‘Ruma Pēpi’ for younger children and ‘Ruma Tamariki’ for older children.

In the short time the centre has been open:

  • a parent committee has been formed
  • the outdoor play areas have begun to be developed
  • permanent appointments have been made to the teaching team
  • a vision and philosophy have been developed to guide the centre’s programmes and teachers’ practices.

Teachers, in partnership with parents, aim to provide a high quality education programme where children are supported to achieve their full potential. The bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand is celebrated. Teachers aspire for children to have respect for the natural environment. They have a strong focus on sustainability.

This is the first review of Tī Kōuka Free Kindergarten.

The Review Findings

Children and their families benefit from caring and respectful relationships with their teachers. Building these relationships has been a top priority when setting up this new kindergarten. Teachers have worked hard to get to know families. Recently, they have begun to meet formally with new starting to share information and discuss what the families’ wishes are for their child’s learning. Teachers make good use of this information when planning the learning programmes.

Other important priorities have been to establish for children and their families, a sense of belonging, wellbeing, and the kindergarten as a place for learning. This is evident in the way teachers:

  • carefully manage children’s transitions into the kindergarten and between Ruma Pēpi and Ruma Tamariki
  • constantly review and make changes as to how they organise the day to support children’s wellbeing
  • use attractive wall displays to show what children are learning in everyday activities
  • have clear expectations for how children care for each other and for the kindergarten environment.

Children benefit from the ways that their teachers sensitively talk with them, build on their ideas and support their learning. Teachers carefully listen to children and value their ideas. For example, the children and teachers have developed rules for playing and learning at the kindergarten. On the day of the review ERO observed children settled and absorbed in their play. They played well together and in small groups.

In Ruma Pēpi, younger children are cared for by teachers who have experience and enthusiasm for working with this age group. Each child has a key teacher responsible for him or her. Teachers have respectful conversations with children and as much as possible involve them in care-giving routines. The indoor area is set up with quiet and interesting spaces for children. The resources set out allow easy access for children and the furniture allows them to be independent. For example, there are low tables and chairs that children easily climb into.

A strength of this kindergarten is the inclusion of a bicultural dimension. This is evident in the way:

  • teachers extensively use te reo Māori in conversation and value this as a living language
  • Māori language books are well represented in the children’s library
  • teachers are developing a partnership with a local marae
  • values such as manaakitanga (caring) and whanaungatanga (relationships) are evident in planning and form the basis of teaching practices.

As part of the review, ERO investigated how well the programme supports children to develop early mathematics concepts. Teachers find many opportunities for mathematics learning to be integrated into in the daily programme. As the centre develops it is likely that mathematics will be more deeply embedded in the curriculum. Later, teachers can review the effectiveness of their programmes and practices in relation to mathematics.

The team has passion and enthusiasm for the success of this new kindergarten. Teachers work well together. Each person’s strengths are valued and made way for. They are open to new ideas and constantly looking for ways to improve what they do.

They are developing effective ways of working in a full-day centre within the kindergarten umbrella and traditions. The leaders and teachers have a clear sense of the future direction and the top priorities for the kindergarten.


The SCFKA is governed by a board and managed by a newly appointed general manager. The board:

  • has a strong commitment to teaching and learning
  • seeks parents’ views about important matters in the association
  • has made changes to the roll size and opening hours of the kindergartens to be more responsive to community needs and maintain the financial viability of the association
  • is very responsive to important government initiatives such as ensuring educational success for all children.

Next steps for the board are to:

  • know more about its roles and responsibilities as the governing body
  • develop strategic planning
  • ensure that reports review how well the association’s goals are met, are more evaluative and are better used for future planning
  • refine appraisal systems to ensure that staff and teachers to more formally receive critical feedback about their work.

The senior teachers provide useful ongoing professional development and maintain a strong focus on teaching and learning to the kindergartens within the association. They have shared with the teachers at Kowhai Kindergarten the expectations they have for teaching and learning and how well they think the team is meeting those expectations.

Key Next Steps

Many initiatives in the kindergarten are in the early stages and the next steps are to further develop and consolidate these. The outdoor environment and Ruma Tamariki indoor play area require further development.

ERO agrees with the team that the next steps are to continue to further develop and consolidate:

  • the kindergarten vision
  • team practices and shared understandings
  • systems for planning, assessment and evaluation.

The team needs to develop their understanding of self review and use this to monitor the effectiveness of the programme and practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Ti Kōuka Free 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.

ERO noted that noise levels in Ruma Tamariki, the older children’s playroom, were high. The SCFKA should take steps to help reduce noise levels in this room by investigating ways that adequately do this.

To improve current practices teachers should ensure that the systems for recording health and safety requirements are consistently followed.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Ti Kōuka Free Kindergarten will be in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

7 October 2014

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

40 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 26

Girls 28

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā









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

August 2014

Date of this report

7 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous reviews


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.