Topkids South Rd Preschool - 25/09/2017

1 Evaluation of Topkids South Road Preschool

How well placed is Topkids South Road Preschool to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

With strong support from BestStart managers, Topkids South Road Preschool will be well placed to promote positive outcomes for children.

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


Topkids South Road Preschool, formerly Little Gems Preschool, is one of nine early learning services in the Taranaki region owned and operated by Best Start Educare Limited (BestStart). An all-day service is provided for children aged over three and a half years. Many of the children would have previously attended Topkids South Road that caters for infants and toddlers and is located across the street. The two centres are jointly managed and work closely. A third of the children enrolled at Topkids South Road Preschool identify as Māori.

Significant changes in regional and local leadership and staffing have occurred since the July 2014 ERO report. A professional services manager has been recently employed to oversee the centre, alongside a business manager. Daily operation and curriculum implementation are delegated to a newly-appointed centre manager. At the time of this review, the centre was recruiting for a head teacher. Most teaching staff are qualified. An administrator is also employed.

The service philosophy emphasises compassion, empathy, unity and trust.

The 2014 ERO review identified a number of areas requiring improvement. These included: self review; provision for literacy and numeracy; cultural responsiveness to Māori; and assessment, planning and evaluation practice. These remain areas to develop.

Since the onsite phase of this review, BestStart managers have developed a plan to address the key next steps in this report.

The Review Findings

The newly-formed teaching team is developing positive relationships with children. However, teaching interactions are of limited quality. BestStart should support teachers to widen their range of teaching strategies to add further depth and complexity to children’s learning. Teachers should draw on their knowledge of children’s interests to deliberately engage with them and extend their learning.

Teachers provide resources and activities in response to children’s interests. There are opportunities for children to learn about the local and wider community. They benefit from a useful focus on sustainability. Opportunities should be made the most of to promote literacy and mathematics.

Leaders and teachers are beginning to explore ways to engage with children’s culture, language and identity. Te ao Māori is visible in the centre environment, through artefacts, resources and wall displays. A next step is for teachers to strengthen their use of meaningful te reo Māori in everyday conversations with children and within documentation.

Teachers seek guidance from local iwi. A next step is to strengthen relationships with whānau Māori and explore ways to draw on their cultural expertise to enhance learning outcomes for their tamariki.

The centre has identified a need to redevelop their assessment, planning and evaluation. BestStart should support and monitor improvements. Documentation should clearly show how teachers:

  • plan specific, challenging teaching strategies that directly impact on children's learning

  • monitor children's progress over time

  • explicitly address parents' aspirations for their children's learning

  • draw on information about children's culture to inform assessment, planning and evaluation.

Children with diverse needs are identified and referred to relevant support agencies. Individual learning plans are developed as appropriate. Teachers should use assessment documentation to monitor these children’s progress against their plans and identify their next learning steps.

Clear, detailed processes guide children's transitions into the centre and on to school. These processes are flexible and individualised. Helpful information is shared with children and families. Teachers are aware of the value of strengthening relationships with local schools. This should be a next step.

Self review is currently used for research and development. Leaders agree that they should now make the shift to internal evaluation of practice. The evaluative aspect should be strengthened through:

  • narrowing the scope of evaluations

  • linking data directly to measurable indicators of best practice

  • analysis of evidence to inform changes and make evaluative judgements.

Leaders and ERO agree that ongoing changes in leadership has been detrimental to the quality of centre practice and operation. BestStart should ensure strong guidance and frequent monitoring of centre performance. When a permanent head teacher appointment is made, it will be timely to review the centre philosophy to reflect the values of the new team and whānau, and establish what these will look like in practice. This process should support teachers to gain an explicit understanding of their role.

Teachers are reflective, and engage in a range of professional learning opportunities. Useful frameworks guide mentoring and appraisal. Leaders have indicated that these processes are currently under review. This review should include consideration of:

  • specific and challenging goals and critical feedback and feed-forward

  • evidence to clearly demonstrate ongoing progress

  • targeted, individual teacher inquiry into the impact of their teaching practices on outcomes for children, including planning to promote the educational success of priority children.

BestStart managers are supportive and improvement focused. They use knowledge of current best practice to guide and inform change. In 2017 this support has been disrupted while new regional managers have been appointed. This process has been completed. New managers have shared their intention to resume regular support to individual centres through providing ongoing feedback on centre operation, feedback to teachers and regular professional development based on teacher needs and centre priorities.

Key Next Steps

BestStart management and centre leaders have identified that key next steps are to:

  • continue to strengthen assessment, evaluation and planning processes

  • further strengthen appraisal

  • strengthen understanding and implementation of internal evaluation practices

  • explore targeted strategies to promote the educational success of priority learners.

ERO agrees with these priorities. In addition ERO identifies the need for teachers to:

  • explore and implement an extended range of teaching strategies

  • integrate meaningful literacy and mathematics learning into the daily programme

  • build their confidence in using te reo Māori.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Topkids South Road 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 Topkids South Road Preschool will be in three years.

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

25 September 2017

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

25 children aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 22, Girls 12

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported rations of staff to children

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

25 September 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

July 2014

Education Review

June 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.