Totara Park Kindergarten - 29/05/2017

1 Evaluation of Totara Park Kindergarten

How well placed is Totara Park 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.


Totara Park Kindergarten is in Upper Hutt. It opens Monday to Friday from 8:30am until 2:30pm and is licensed for 40 children. Daily sessional places are available for children aged from two to five years.

The revised kindergarten philosophy is built on the principles of Te Whāriki the early childhood curriculum and commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Relationships, kotahitanga, whanaungatanga and the importance of whānau experiencing trust and respect are central to kindergarten beliefs. Sustainability and environmental education are also emphasised.

Totara Park Kindergarten is one of 85 kindergartens and three home-based education and care networks governed and managed by He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association Incorporated (the association). This is a new kindergarten association created from joining the Rimutaka and Wellington Kindergarten Associations in 2014. This is the first review for this kindergarten since the merger.

Since the October 2013 ERO report there have been some changes to the teaching and kindergarten leadership. In January 2015, an experienced head teacher was appointed to lead the team.

The board and managers provide governance for the organisation. Senior teachers have delegated kindergartens. Their role is to provide regular support and a range of professional learning and development opportunities for teachers.

In 2012, the Wellington association developed a framework to guide the implementation of its curriculum, Te Manawa. This document outlines criteria for curriculum delivery including expectations for assessment and planning for children’s learning. Its introduction within this and other ex-Rimutaka Kindergartens occurred during 2015 with each kindergarten adapting it to respond to their community. 

The previous ERO report for Totara Park Kindergarten identified a number of areas for review and development in relation to: assessment for children's learning; philosophy; and success for Māori and Pacific children. Teachers have made positive gains in responding to these key next steps.

This review was part of a cluster of nine reviews in the He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association Incorporated.

The Review Findings

Children are supported to independently explore, take risks, make decisions, problem solve and inquire through everyday learning experiences. Resources provide children with opportunities to be challenged, to revisit and to extend their interests, needs and strengths. Children take on leadership roles and responsibilities and form tuakana teina relationships with their peers.

The kindergarten programme focuses on children's emerging interests. It is based on Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, Te Manawa and guided by the kindergarten's priorities for children's learning. Excursions are an important part of the kindergarten philosophy and support children to learn about the wider community.

Teachers continue to strengthen assessment and evaluation of children's learning. They notice, recognise and respond to children's interests and ideas. As teachers continue to explore Te Manawa and create their own procedures, this should assist in growing consistency and quality of assessment and planning practice. A useful next step for teachers is to deliberately build their role in planning and evaluating the impact of teaching. Recent developments are making teacher planning more visible for parents. Family aspirations are sought and valued.

A recent review of the kindergarten philosophy has led teachers to inquire further into how well the core principles are enacted in practice. This should help teachers to more clearly know about the impact of the practices on the desired outcomes for children.

Teachers continue to build their capacity to support Māori children's language, culture and identity. This is assisting teachers to consider what Māori success as Māori looks like at kindergarten.

Teachers build positive relationships with local schools through information sharing and visits that support children's successful transitions onto school.

Children with additional learning needs are well supported through proactive, inclusive approaches to teaching and learning.

Self review continues to develop. There is a sound framework in place to guide internal evaluation. Strengthening the evaluative aspect is a next step that has been identified by the senior teacher.ERO affirms this direction.

The senior teacher provides termly written feedback on agreed development priorities and the quality of teaching and learning. An annual internal evaluation supports strengthening of these termly reports. There is a deliberate focus on outcomes for children and teacher/leader performance. 

A strengthened appraisal model is being implemented across the kindergartens. This includes focused goals that build teacher and leader capability and clearer links with the Practising Teacher Criteria. Leaders and teachers at Totara Park Kindergarten are continuing to strengthen their appraisal practice.

Leadership growth is fostered. Teachers take on areas of responsibilities and use their strengths to contribute to the kindergarten programme.

Key Next Steps

The senior teacher, head teacher, staff and ERO agree on the following key next steps, to:

  • continue to strengthen assessment, planning and evaluation

  • further develop approaches to support Māori children's learning

  • refine internal evaluation.

The association should continue to support the development of formal critique of teaching practice and strengthening responsiveness to Māori children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Totara Park 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. 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Totara Park Kindergarten will be in three years.

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

29 May 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


Upper Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Free Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, aged over 2 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 32, Girls 25

Ethnic composition



Other ethnic groups




Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

April 2017

Date of this report

29 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

October 2013

Education Review

May 2010

Education Review

January 2007

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.