YMCA Early Learning Centre - 14/07/2015

1. Evaluation of YMCA Early Learning Centre

How well placed is YMCA 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.


YMCA Early Learning Centre is a full-day education and care centre in central Invercargill. It caters for up to 35 children aged from birth to school age. Infants, toddlers, and older children each have their own rooms at the centre. All the children play in the same space at the start and end of the day, and they share the outside playground. 

The centre is owned by Southland YMCA Education Ltd. The YMCA organisation supports the management of the centre. A manager and head teacher have responsibility for the day-to-day running of the centre. The centre has a high proportion of qualified staff.

The centre leaders have made significant progress on all the recommendations identified in the 2013 ERO report. This report recommends that they continue to develop these areas.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from caring, respectful, and trusting relationships with their teachers. They play and learn in a very settled and secure atmosphere. Children and teachers have genuine conversations. Teachers listen carefully to the children and give them time to respond. The low adult-to-child ratios in the infant and toddler rooms strongly support these aspects. 

The teachers provide a rich range of purposeful learning experiences for the children. For example, as part of the well-established “bush programme” older children visit the Otatara Scenic Reserve every week. Children go on frequent excursions in the local community, including to regular gym sessions. The programme also has an emphasis on early literacy and mathematics learning.

The leaders and teachers have a shared understanding of the centre’s philosophy and values. The philosophy is visible in action in the way children help make decisions about the programme and take on real tasks around the centre. In the older children’s room teachers and children plan and work on extended projects together.

The leaders and teachers go out of their way to support the participation and wellbeing of all the children at the centre. They:

  • provide a van to pick up children from families who find it hard to get to the centre
  • work closely with other agencies who can support children and their parents
  • adapt their programme to fully include children with diverse needs
  • communicate with parents in both formal and informal ways.

The programme values and affirms the children’s home cultures. The teachers maintain Māori children’s connections to their cultural identity through frequent reading and telling of traditional stories, taking part in Polyfest, using waiata and karakia, and developing interesting wall displays. There has also been a recent emphasis on Samoan culture and language. 

The teachers have a useful format for planning for individual children’s learning. They incorporate parents’ wishes for their children in the planning. Teachers assemble attractive records of children’s learning. These show the wide variety of experiences children have and include evidence around their individual goals. Next steps in this area are for teachers to:

  • ensure they understand and apply the planning format consistently
  • show more clearly how they are making a difference for children.

The teachers should put a system in place to check that individual children’s learning is discussed regularly with all parents.

Governance and leadership

The centre leaders have developed a useful strategic plan that sets out priorities for the centre and gives guidance for future action. The plan will be even more useful with clearer monitoring of the goals and reporting to the YMCA governing board.

Teachers’ use of self review and ongoing professional development has led to positive changes at the centre. Asking more evaluative questions in the planned reviews will help the centre leaders and YMCA board be assured about the quality of their work. The appraisal system for staff members should be consolidated and would benefit from a formal observation component.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for the centre leaders are to improve the systems for monitoring aspects of the centre’s operations, and sharing best practice throughout the centre. This should include:

  • enhancing consistency in planning for and recording children’s learning
  • consolidating the appraisal system
  • checking for and dealing with hazards.

The YMCA governing board should ensure it receives better information to inform it about the progress and performance of the centre.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of YMCA 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

14 July 2015

2. Information about the Early Childhood Service



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 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 24

Boys: 21

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific or Pacific / African






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

June 2015

Date of this report

14 July 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

These are available at www.ero.govt.nz

Supplementary Review

July 2013


Education Review

May 2012

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.