White Heron Learning Centre - Otara - 22/06/2018

1 Evaluation of White Heron Learning Centre - Otara

How well placed is White Heron Learning Centre - Otara 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.


White Heron Learning Centre - Otara is one of four early childhood centres owned and operated by White Heron Learning Centres Ltd. The centre is licensed to provide for 35 children, including up to 10 under two years of age.

The centre operates in purpose-built premises on a well maintained and attractive site. Infants and toddlers have their own indoor and decking space and also mix freely with the older children in the outdoor play areas throughout the day.

The centre's philosophy focuses on providing opportunities for children to become confident in their cultural identity, including an intentional focus on gagana Samoa. It recognises the development of the whole child as important in establishing a positive attitude and approach to learning.

The newly appointed centre manager leads a team that includes six qualified teachers and two unqualified staff. She is responsible for the day-to-day operation of two centres in the organisation. A White Heron area manager has oversight of all four centres. She and the centre managers support the professional development of teachers and improvements in outcomes for children.

The positive features identified in the 2014 ERO report continue to be evident. In response to ERO's recommendations, some good progress has been made in responding to children as capable, competent learners and in teachers' review of the effectiveness of their programme planning.

The Review Findings

Children are settled and happy in the centre. They are warmly welcomed on arrival and have positive relationships with teachers and each other. Children are developing social skills as they play cooperatively together. They confidently make choices from prepared activities and available resources. The environment is well resourced and the outdoor playground is interesting and challenging.

Infants and toddlers experience nurturing care and benefit from good adult-to-child ratios. Teachers encourage them to explore interesting resources. Programmes support their physical development. Toddlers frequently play with the older children, as they develop their mobility and social skills. All children come together for mat time where teachers support older children to lead the celebration of each other's languages and cultures. These practices help children to transition easily through the centre.

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 children's individual interests. This approach is a sound step towards supporting children's developing sense of themselves as capable learners.

The learning environment and the programmes for children have been improved significantly over the past three years. Children now have access to a broader range of more interesting activities and experiences. With good support from centre leaders, teachers are improving programme planning and evaluation processes. As teachers learn more about the early childhood curriculum, and as they continue to make their observations of children more specific, they will have increasingly useful information to guide their planning.

Parents and whānau are an integral part of the centre community, and are encouraged to be active partners in children's learning. They are invited to centre events and excursions, to participate in surveys and reviews, and to contribute to cultural celebrations. Open communication enables families to share values, aspirations and information about home experiences. Parents respond positively to their children's learning stories and photos.

Leaders have a good understanding of the strengths and next steps for the centre. They encourage and support teachers' ongoing professional development. Internal workshops, mentoring, and external learning opportunities are linked to whole-centre goals. Leaders are keen to increase teachers' leadership capabilities and their knowledge of how to extend children's learning.

The centre is well managed. Leaders have developed a sound policy framework, appropriate health and safety practices, and effective systems for the efficient management of the White Heron Learning Centres. The strategic plan provides broad guidelines for future directions. The annual plan helps leaders to ensure that legal requirements are met. Evaluating for effectiveness has become standard practice. The organisation is well placed to integrate new Education Council requirements into its teacher appraisal processes.

Key Next Steps

Centre leaders agree that key next steps for development should include:

  • continuing to develop and evaluate how well the learning environment invites children's participation, extends their interests, and challenges them in their learning

  • gathering more specific information about the learning dispositions, progress and development of individual children to inform their programme planning processes

  • learning more about Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and including goals related to Te Whāriki as part of the teacher appraisal process.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of White Heron Learning Centre - Otara 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 White Heron Learning Centre - Otara will be in three years.

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

22 June 2018

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

35 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 16 Boys 15

Ethnic composition

Cook Islands Māori
other Pacific peoples


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

June 2018

Date of this report

22 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

November 2014

September 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.