Central Kids Early Learning Centres - Whaihanga

Education institution number:
Service type:
Education and Care Service
Not Applicable
Total roll:

45 Knighton Road, Hillcrest, Hamilton

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1 Evaluation of Whaihanga Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Whaihanga 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.


Whaihanga Early Learning Centre is located on the grounds of Knighton Normal School in the suburb of Hillcrest in Hamilton City. It is licensed to provide full-day education and care for children from six months to school age. The centre's roll of 42, includes 22 Māori and children from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds. It operates a mixed-age programme that promotes a strong family-like atmosphere supported by tuakana/teina relationships among children.

The centre operates under the umbrella of the CNI Early Education Services Trust (CNIEEST) which continues to contract Central North Island Kindergarten Trust (CNIKT) to provide professional support for programme delivery, policy, administration and personnel management.

Since the previous ERO review in January 2014, a new centre manager has been appointed and there have been several changes in the teaching team. The areas of good performance identified in the previous ERO report continue to be evident at the centre. Good progress has been made in addressing the areas for development about strengthening assessment practice and integrating the language, culture and identity of children within the programme.

The centre's philosophy is underpinned by the concepts of whanaungatanga, aroha, toanga o paptūānuku and whaihangatanga.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from participating in a rich and broad programme that reflects the centre’s philosophy and responds to their emerging interests. Well-managed flexible routine times support children's involvement in sustained, uninterrupted play. The implementation of a 'key teacher' system effectively supports children's sense of wellbeing, and promotes responsive relationships with whānau. Features of the programme include:

  • high-quality literacy and mathematics learning opportunities for children that are naturally integrated through play

  • the inclusion of science learning and a demonstrated commitment to environmental sustainability

  • real-life learning experiences that reflect home environments and whānau aspirations

  • the recognition of each child's language culture and identity.

Children's opportunities to explore and experience physical challenge are supported by regularly accessing the local school's environment and playing fields.

Children with special learning needs are well provided for within an inclusive environment. The centre manager accesses appropriate external expertise to support teachers and whānau to respond effectively in meeting the education and care requirements of these children.

There are high levels of trust among teachers, whānau and children. Whānau are increasingly involved in centre operations and are well supported by centre staff. Sharing the rationale and positive impact of the centre's approaches to important aspects of the programme with the local school is likely to strengthen key partnerships for learning.

Attractively presented individual portfolios that are also accessible for whānau in digital format provide parents with a comprehensive record of children’s involvement in the programme. They effectively identify learning and development over time. Teachers make good use of this assessment information to extend children's interests and learning.

Infants and toddlers benefit from playing and learning with and alongside their older whānau members and peers. Their care needs are well met, and teachers work closely with whānau to reflect home priorities.

Māori children’s language, culture and identity are effectively recognised and celebrated by:

  • teachers' increasing use of te reo Māori

  • manaakitanga interactions with and among children

  • the incorporation of te ao Māori in the centre's environment.

Leaders recognise the importance of establishing a relationship with the neighbouring Kirikiriroa Marae to further promote the centre's commitment to incorporating New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

Teachers work well together to respond to the education and care needs of children. They have responsive and caring relationships with children and whānau. Teachers use a wide range of strategies that promote children's thinking and problem solving, which support the development of social competencies. They thoughtfully present and refresh the environment to provoke children’s interests and extend learning. Responsive teaching contributes to children's development as secure, confident, communicators who are able to play and learn alongside others.

The centre manager provides knowledgeable and well-informed leadership. She is highly respected by teachers and whānau, and models effective teaching practice. A distributed leadership model supports a learning culture among the teaching team and empowers teachers to share their strengths and expertise for the benefit of children. Comprehensive and well-established self-review processes support ongoing centre development. Collaborative leadership approaches are effectively building teacher capability to provide positive outcomes for children.

CNIKT provides effective governance for the centre. A well-developed policy framework guides centre operations. Experienced association professional leaders are supportive of the centre manager and provide useful feedback to the teaching staff about the effectiveness of centre operations. CNIKT provides extensive professional learning and development opportunities for teachers. A comprehensive teacher appraisal process meets the requirements of the Education Council and supports teachers to reflect on the effectiveness of their practices. This system could be further strengthened by more regular documented observations of teaching practice. Comprehensive governance systems support leaders and teachers to promote positive outcomes for children and whānau.

Key Next Steps

The key next step for the centre manager and teachers, is to further strengthen learning partnerships with whānau and other groups in the local community.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Whaihanga 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 Whaihanga Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

14 March 2017 

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 



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 25 Girls 17

Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%+

Based on funding rates

80% +

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

14 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

January 2014

Education Review

November 2012

Education Review

November 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.

1 Background


A Supplementary Review is undertaken at the discretion of a National Manager, Review Services in the Education Review Office (ERO).

A supplementary review evaluates the extent and effectiveness of actions a centre has taken towards addressing issues specified in a previous education review and/or any additional areas identified since that review.

Terms of Reference

This supplementary review is based on an evaluation of the performance of the Whaihanga Early Learning Centre governing body and management in relation to areas identified in the November 2012 ERO report or issues identified since that review. The terms of reference for this review are to investigate:

  • a centre philosophy consistent with the Central North Island Early Education Services Trust (CNIEEST) philosophy
  • processes for self review that maintain and improve the quality of education and care
  • clear priorities for improving the quality of the curriculum and teaching and learning practices
  • the range of experiences and opportunities for children to enhance and extend their learning and development both indoors, individually and in groups
  • assessment, planning and evaluation processes
  • monitoring and supervision of children’s play, health and hygiene routines.

2 Evaluation Findings


Whaihanga Early Learning Centre is located in Hillcrest, Hamilton, within the grounds of a local primary school. The centre provides all day education and care for up to 40 children, including 12 children up to two years of age. At the time of the ERO review there were 38 children on the roll, including 19 children identified as of Māori descent and 7 of Pacific descent.

The centre operates under the umbrella of the CNIEEST, and they continue to contract Central Kids Kindergartens to provide professional support for programme delivery, policy, administration and personnel management.

The November 2012 ERO report identified the need to review the centre philosophy and strengthen the quality of self review, leadership, teaching practice and programme provision. As a result of these concerns ERO signalled a supplementary review of the centre within 12 months.

Since that time, the centre has received significant, strategically planned support from CNIKT personnel, including professional development, to bring about and sustain positive change. This has been enhanced by the appointment of 6 qualified teachers who demonstrate teaching practices that reflect CNIEEST philosophy and expectations. There has been a planned reduction to the numbers of children on the roll to give teachers the opportunity to effectively address the areas for review and development identified in the 2012 ERO report. Since June 2013 the new centre manager has worked with the professional leaders and developed a strategic approach to strengthening leadership and teaching practices. Priority is placed on establishing and maintaining an open and inclusive culture amongst teachers and support staff.

As a result of these positive improvements Whaihanga Early Learning Centre is now well placed to provide positive outcomes for children and their families.

Areas of progress

In the middle of 2013, the centre manager, two professional leaders and an external provider worked with staff to review and develop a centre philosophy that is consistent with the CNIEEST philosophy. At the time of the ERO review the philosophy had been documented and was ready for parent, whānau and community consultation.

The centre manager’s collaborative leadership has resulted in a positive team culture that is underpinned by shared and understood values focused on positive outcomes for children. There is a clear strategic direction to promote teacher development and programme planning. Teachers are reflective practitioners, meet regularly, share in decision making and have professional discussions linked to ongoing professional learning and development (PLD). The robust appraisal process provides teachers with clear feedback and feed forward about their practice. Appraisal goals are aligned to PLD and teachers are increasingly focused on strategies that extend children’s learning interests.

The centre team has established an effective self-review process, which is now informing decision making about centre improvement and development. The outcome of this work has addressed the area of non compliance in relation to providing a range of experiences to extend children’s learning identified in the November 2012 ERO report. Improvements are particularly evident in:

  • enhanced spaces for teachers and children through upgrades to the interior design and layout of the building
  • children’s ready access to a good range of high-quality materials and equipment
  • the targeted use of equity funding, which benefits priority learners and all children
  • routines that are responsive to the needs of individual children
  • children having opportunities to experience choices and challenges in their learning.

These developments are contributing to a settled and inclusive environment in which children sustain their play and participate in meaningful learning experiences.

ERO observed teachers integrating positive teaching practices that included:

  • respectful and responsive care for babies
  • positive relationships and interactions amongst children and adults
  • children demonstrating social competence and independence
  • increased awareness of the particular needs of boys
  • a whānau-based learning environment where children and siblings can be together in a mixed-age setting.

Teachers plan and provide a programme that engages children in sustained play and supports them to follow their interests. Learning is documented to enable children to revisit and share their progress and development with their peers and families, whānau and aiga. Good use is made of the environment surrounding the centre to enhance children’s understanding of the wider, natural world and provide greater physical challenge.

Areas for further improvement

ERO, professional leaders, the centre manager, and the teaching team agree that there is a need for centre leaders to continue to:

  • further consult with parents, whānau and community about the centre philosophy
  • provide parents with further opportunities to share as partners in children’s learning
  • document and embed a self-review cycle for all aspects of centre operations
  • build teacher capability in assessment, planning and evaluation, particularly in bicultural practices and integrating the language, culture and identity of each child into the programme.

3 Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO will review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

23 January 2014

Information about the Service


Hillcrest, Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

40 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 21 Girls 17

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā

Other Pacific

Cook Island


South East Asian







Percentage of qualified teachers


Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

23 January 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

November 2009

November 2006