Whitford Early Learning Centre - 08/04/2016

1 Evaluation of Whitford Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Whitford Early Learning Centre 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.


Whitford Early Learning Centre is located on a rural property in East Auckland. The owner/service provider manages the centre. The centre licence was extended in 2013 to merge the three centres onsite, Whitford Early Learning Centre, Whitford Pre-school Centre and Whitford Private Kindergarten, under one licence. The centre provides care and education for a maximum of 107 children including no more than 25 up to two years of age. This is the first review for the amalgamated centre under the new licence.

Children are mostly from the local community and parents appreciate the centre’s provision for daily outdoor learning experiences. These include walks through the rural property, gardening, feeding animals and swimming lessons.

The centre is organised into four rooms across three nearby buildings. Each room is led by a head teacher. Children from three to 18 months attend the Fantail room. It is adjacent to the Tui room which caters for children from 18 months to two and a half years. Pukeko Cottage, in the original farmhouse, caters for children from two and a half to three years of age. The oldest children, three to five years of age, attend the Kiwi kindergarten.

Over the last three years the centre has continued to experience change. The owner has undertaken self review in response to the new team and to improve the centre’s sustainability. A new curriculum manager was appointed in 2015. The centre employs 19 teachers, five of whom hold full practising certificates. Most teachers are working towards their full practising certificates. One of the four unqualified staff is undertaking teacher training.

The owner and staff have made positive progress since the 2012 ERO review. 

The Review Findings

Children are happy and settled. They have warm and trusting relationships with adults and interact confidently with their friends. Children are respected as capable learners and are well supported to be good communicators and active explorers in their environment. Children have many opportunities to engage in creative play and make choices. They often lead their own learning and independently select resources. Staff are flexible in applying the age guidelines for rooms so that they place children to best meet their individual needs and stages of development.

Infants and toddlers experience a welcoming environment with a flexible and relaxed tone. Teachers support children’s learning and development by responding to their interests and providing a curriculum that engages them in play. Infants’ and toddlers’ need for strong and secure attachments are well supported. The youngest children receive responsive caregiving that is consistent to Fantail’s and Tui’s philosophy of respect.

High quality teaching practices are evident. Teachers are committed to enhancing their reflective, professional practice. They implement an inquiry approach providing open-ended resources for children to lead their own learning and reviewing how well they support children’s free choice throughout the programme. The Kiwi room offers a transition to school programme that could be strengthened by teachers reviewing the alignment of the programme with the aims and principles of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum.

Collaborative team approaches to planning are helping to build shared understanding and capability in providing for children’s current learning and interests. Teachers are improving the analysis and interpretation of children’s learning, identifying learning dispositions that they will extend and strategies to do this. Teachers have strengthened the way that they are linking and showing continuity in children’s learning. Clear links to Te Whāriki and children's aptitudes for learning are evident in learning stories. Teachers regularly evaluate programmes.

Teachers work well together to integrate te reo me te ao Māori into the programme. The outdoor classroom is well used to provide children with a bicultural curriculum that includes environmental education, science and physical activity. Teachers continue to share their knowledge and expertise, building their capacity to use te reo and to implement authentic learning.

Managers are taking a strategic approach to developing an ongoing cycle of improvement. The team have made a very good start to building a shared understanding of the centre philosophies and vision. They are now poised to develop centre values. Effective curriculum leadership is improving teaching practice and resourcing. Positive impacts of initiatives are already apparent.

Centre managers have identified the need to enhance collaborative self review that continues to grow a shared team culture throughout the centre. A sound policy framework is in place and managers are implementing ongoing review with the new team to strengthen consistency in understanding and practice. Appraisals and policies have recently been reviewed to meet Education Council requirements. Teachers are beginning to build their capacity to reflect on their practices. Future development should assist teachers to deepen self-review by evaluating the effectiveness of outcomes for children. 

Key Next Steps

Centre managers agree that priorities for improvement include:

  • implementing evaluative self-review that makes effective use of indicators of best practice
  • continuing professional development to enhance teachers' understanding of the principles of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, regarding programme planning, assessment, evaluation and practice.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Whitford Early Learning 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.

In order to improve practice, managers should regularly monitor and review staff practices to ensure consistency with centre policies. 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Whitford Early Learning Centre will be in three years. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

8 April 2016 

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 


Whitford, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

107 children, including up to 25 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls       51%
Boys      49%

Ethnic composition

South African
other ethnicities


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


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2016

Date of this report

8 April 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2012

Education Review

March 2009

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.