White Heron @ Dawson - 02/08/2019

1 Evaluation of White Heron @ Dawson

How well placed is White Heron @ Dawson to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

White Heron @ Dawson is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


White Heron @ Dawson in Otara, provides education and care for babies and children up to school age. It is one of four early childhood centres owned and operated by White Heron Learning Centres Ltd. An area manager provides support and guidance in centre operations and teaching practices across the four services.

The centre has experienced a high level of staff turnover in the past three years, including changes of centre supervisors. The staff team consists of six registered teachers and six support staff, including three teachers in training. In addition, the centre regularly employs qualified relieving teachers. Staff reflect the ethnic diversity of the community they serve. Children with Māori or Pacific heritage continue to be the majority in the service.

Managers and teachers aim to provide positive quality outcomes, and this is evident in the centre's philosophy. The programme is guided by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum.

The 2015 ERO report identified high quality, culturally responsive and inclusive teaching and learning. Partnerships with parents and whānau were strong. Aspects of these positive approaches continue to be evident under the new teaching team.

The Review Findings

Children are confident and have a strong sense of belonging. They play well together and develop respectful, caring relationships with other children and teachers. They are well supported to develop as competent learners.

Children experience an environment and curriculum that support their learning. They have access to a variety of experiences and make informed choices about their play. Children are able to play uninterrupted for extended periods. They are familiar with the expectations of mat time and meal time routines.

Tuakana/teina relationships are promoted, along with the concept of whānau. Teachers are respectful and responsive in their interactions with children. Some staff are able to speak to children with languages other than English, in their home languages.

Transitions into and through the centre are well supported and flexible. Children freely explore and move confidently within the three separate learning spaces. Centre leaders are starting to build relationships with local school communities to further support children transitioning to school. Children have many opportunities to experience literacy, mathematics and science through their play and at mat times.

Infants and toddlers benefit from an individualised approach to their care and learning. Teachers support them to settle into the centre. Transitions are flexible and well-paced for two year olds, as they join the older children. This allows them time to build confidence in their new environment. These very young children are well supported to explore the environment and to develop at their own pace.

The programme for the older children is responsive to children's interests, parent aspirations, and teachers' ideas. It is underpinned by a framework of annual events and cultural celebrations. Excursions offer opportunities for children to explore their local surroundings and the wider community. Regular use of the nearby park extends children's physical play. Teachers could consider providing more focus in the programme for older children to take risks and engage in more physical challenges. Walks to the local library support children's literacy learning. Parents and whānau are encouraged to become involved in the programme, and their contributions are appreciated.

Teachers and centre leaders place a strong emphasis on children's identity, culture and language as part of the learning programme. Māori children experience a curriculum that promotes and highly values te ao Māori. Pacific children and those of other cultures also experience a programme that promotes their cultures, languages and beliefs. It would be worthwhile to make use of Tātaiako and Tapasā resources to support teachers' reflection on their practices.

Centre leaders are developing an organisational culture based on collaboration and respect. They provide professional development to strengthen teaching practices. It is now timely to use external support to work with the teaching team. The new team is developing a shared understanding of internal evaluation processes.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for teachers include:

  • planning more specific, effective teaching strategies to extend children's individual learning

  • continuing to strengthen children's records of learning, by making learning progress more visible

  • developing a shared understanding of good quality assessment, planning and evaluation.

Next steps for managers to further improve outcomes for children include:

  • continuing to increase the rigour of staff appraisal processes

  • providing leadership training that will continue to build teachers' leadership potential

  • working with teachers to formalise evaluation processes, evaluative thinking, and the documentation of outcomes and impacts for children's learning.


ERO recommends that the service provider access external professional support for teachers to assist them in improving assessment, programme planning and evaluation practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of White Heron @ Dawson 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.

To improve current practice, managers should ensure that they outline the amount received under each equity funding component on the annual report to parents and the community.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

2 August 2019

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


Otara, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

80 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 51 Boys 47

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Cook Island Māori
other ethnic groups


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

May 2019

Date of this report

2 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2015

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.