Tuakau's Little Stars Early Childhood Centre - 01/08/2014

1 Evaluation of Tuakau's Little Stars Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Tuakau's Little Stars Early Childhood Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Tuakau’s Little Stars is well placed to support children's sense of belonging and wellbeing. Teachers are engaged in extensive professional development to further improve the quality of learning outcomes for children.

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


Tuakau’s Little Stars provides full day care and education for up to 48 children from infancy to school age. The centre operates in two adjacent houses modified for the purposes of childcare. The service has undergone several recent changes including re-establishing a licence for babies and toddlers and a change in ownership. The new owners have actively sought to identify areas for improvement in the centre and have accessed professional support to enhance management and curriculum systems. Teachers have recently reviewed the centre philosophy and consulted parents when identifying their priorities for children's learning.

The centre has three qualified teachers including the two owners. The owners are intending to employ another qualified teacher to bring in new ideas and teaching strategies. They have a strong commitment to strengthening their partnership with parents. They value the cultural diversity of the community and plan to undertake professional development to enhance their responsiveness to Māori and other family cultures.

Early in 2013 ERO expressed concern about the quality of the programme for children. The new owners have responded positively to ERO’s recommendations and have implemented an extensive professional development programme to establish new planning and assessment systems. While progress has been made, the owners acknowledge further improvement is needed to achieve their goals.

The Review Findings

Children are happy and relaxed in the centre. They are warmly welcomed on arrival and quickly settle at an activity of interest. Children share caring relationships with teachers and benefit from the family-like environment. They are able to independently access resources and often work in small groups to explore them. Children enjoy the outdoor area where they engage in social play and participate in gardening activities. They are constantly busy and involved in play.

Infants and toddlers benefit from learning in a small group with a high ratio of adults. Teachers attend closely to them, providing meaningful support for their exploration and language development. Babies show trust in adults and benefit from responsive care that meets their individual needs and interests. Although these younger children are accommodated in a separate house, they regularly mix with older children in the centre’s outdoor area.

Teachers consistently support children's play. They engage children in conversations about their interests and encourage them to share ideas and work cooperatively. Teachers know children well and are beginning to focus learning experiences on individual interests and children's recognised learning dispositions. This approach is a sound step towards developing children's sense of themselves as capable learners. Individual plans will also better enable teachers to consider strategies for the success of Māori children as Māori.

Parents who were interviewed by ERO expressed enthusiasm for the centre. They appreciate the ways information is shared by teachers and how children's wellbeing is a priority. They report that their children have a sense of belonging and that teachers are increasing their focus on learning. Māori parents have made contributions to the environment and show willingness to help with tikanga and te reo Māori. They would support strengthening bicultural practices in the centre.

Teachers use children's identified individual ‘learning pathways’ to guide the programme. They have also begun to keep whiteboard notes to record emerging daily interests. Teachers meet weekly to reflect on the programme and have undertaken a review of children's assessment portfolios. These processes are helping teachers to learn ways for managing the programme more effectively, including their role in extending children's learning. Teachers are enthusiastic and positive about their professional development and current learning journey.

The new owners have made substantial progress in strengthening centre management. They have revised and improved their strategic plan and developed plans for annual operations, property development and marketing. The owners have worked with their adviser to establish a sound framework for self review and are using this process to reflect critically on their practices. They appreciate the support and collegiality of a local early childhood cluster group that is helping with new ideas for improving practices. The owners recognise that their current appraisal process is not effectively meeting their development needs.

Key Next Steps

The owners and ERO agree the key next steps for centre development should include:

  • strengthening the complexity of children's play to encourage their persistence, thinking and problem solving skills
  • ongoing development of programme planning and assessment to further guide teachers’ work with children
  • continuing to improve bicultural and multicultural practices to support the success of Māori children and of other children from diverse ethnic backgrounds
  • consolidating management systems and establishing an appropriate appraisal process.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Tuakau's Little Stars Early Childhood Centre 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 Tuakau's Little Stars Early Childhood Centre will be in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

1 August 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


Tuakau, Franklin District

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

48 children, including up to 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 24

Boys 19

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


Better than minimum requirements


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

1 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2013


Education Review

March 2010


Education Review

March 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.