Whitford Early Learning Centre - 13/03/2020

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

Whitford Early Learning Centre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Whitford Early Learning Centre is a well-established, semi-rural service. It provides full-day education and care for children from three months to five years of age. The centre is licensed for 107 children, including 25 up to the age of two years. Five percent of the children enrolled are Māori and nearly 20 percent are Chinese.

The owner, who has recently qualified as an early childhood teacher, governs the centre and provides overall financial management. She employs a centre manager who has oversight of day-to-day centre operations.

Children are catered for in four age-based groups. The Fantails and Tui rooms provide for infants and toddlers. Children from approximately two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years are in the Pukeko room and older children are in Kiwi Kindergarten. Children have access to outdoor areas connected to their rooms. There are also more extensive outdoor spaces that children visit with their teachers on excursions.

The centre's philosophy is consistent with the intentions of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. It is influenced by Reggio Emilia practices and the RIE approach to the care and education of infants and toddlers. The philosophy promotes positive and supportive relationships, acknowledges the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand and the value of working in partnership with parents.

The 2016 ERO report commented positively on relationships and the quality of teaching, including provision for children under two years of age. Progress has been made in establishing an improvement focused appraisal system. Teachers have taken part in professional learning to support their understanding and use of Te Whāriki 2017. Further work needs to be done to address some areas for improvement identified in the 2016 ERO report.

The Review Findings

Children learn in well-resourced indoor and outdoor environments that support their education and wellbeing. They experience positive relationships with adults and each other and explore their environment with confidence. Children's interactions with teachers support their language development. During conversations, children's contributions are respected by teachers and they are given time to respond. Teachers support children to develop their social skills.

Care practices for infants and toddlers are carried out with respect and reflect the routines and needs of each child. The 'primary care' approach helps to establish, maintain and support a strong sense of belonging and wellbeing for children. Along with regular communication with parents/whānau this approach helps establish strong partnerships that focus on children's care and learning.

Children's transitions into and through the centre and on to school, continue to be well managed. Infants in the Fantail room get to know the Tui room teachers and children through daily contact.

There are many opportunities in the programme for children to be creative, develop early literacy and numeracy skills and explore aspects of science and technology. Teachers encourage children to problem solve and follow their interests.

Teachers are well supported to grow professionally and improve their practices. Some staff are currently increasing their knowledge of te ao Māori, te reo and tikanga Māori. This professional learning will strengthen the capacity of the centre to provide a bicultural curriculum and increase the use of te reo Māori.

The assessment of children's learning, programme planning and evaluation have been identified as an area for further development. Staff should review the effectiveness of each room's current practices, identify indicators of best practice, and then plan strategically to implement high quality assessment and planning across the centre.

Centre operations are guided by a policy framework. The owner is taking a more hands-on approach to managing the centre. She recognises the importance of establishing a clearer strategic plan to guide ongoing improvement, and systems to ensure that policies and procedures are more closely followed.

Internal evaluation would be strengthened by making greater use of evaluative questions to guide the centre's inquiries. Staff are considering how they can adopt a more cohesive approach across the four rooms for some aspects of their work.

The teacher appraisal system and related policies have been reviewed. When the system is fully enacted it will meet the requirements of the Teaching Council.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps include strengthening:

  • internal evaluation and strategic planning

  • assessment of children's learning, programme planning and evaluation

  • monitoring adherence to policies and procedures that guide centre operations

  • the provision of a bicultural curriculum.

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.

To improve practice, the manager should improve systems for emergency drills including lockdown procedures.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

13 March 2020

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 years

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 55% Girls 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
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

October 2019

Date of this report

13 March 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

April 2016

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

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.