Active Explorers Lower Hutt

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

22A Pretoria Street, Lower Hutt Central, Lower Hutt

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1 Evaluation of Active Explorers Lower Hutt

How well placed is Active Explorers Lower Hutt to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Active Explorers Lower Hutt has experienced change in management roles over the past two years. The centre manager requires support to guide centre direction and teaching and learning.

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


Active Explorers Lower Hutt is privately owned, purpose built and located in Lower Hutt adjacent to Eastern Hutt School. The service is licensed to provide education and care for 68 children including 20 aged up to two. At the time of this ERO evaluation, there were 71 children on the roll, including 15 Māori.

The centre caters for children and families from a wide range of ethnic groups including a number with English as a second or third language. Separate learning areas provide for the needs of infants, toddlers and young children. Enhancement of the outdoor environment to enrich learning opportunities for children continues to be a focus.

In December 2014, the service was bought by Evolve Education Group (Evolve) from Lollipops Educare Centres limited. Evolve employs a development manager to provide overall curriculum guidance for team leaders and teachers in four centres. A regional, area and centre support manager offers support to the centre director and teaching team. Five teachers have an early childhood qualification and full certification. There are three provisionally certificated teachers.

The August 2012 ERO report identified areas requiring further consideration. These included: strengthening assessment, planning and evaluation; creating a share philosophy for teaching and learning; and growing a culture of systematic, evidence-based review to support implementation of a shared vision. Progress has been limited and some processes have lapsed.

This review was part of a cluster of five reviews in the Evolve Education Group. 

The Review Findings

Teachers work collaboratively to provide a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for children and families. Staff work positively towards ensuring practices are responsive to family needs and circumstances. Teachers acknowledge that following the recent rebranding of the centre, it is timely to review the philosophy to reflect collective values and beliefs and identify curriculum priorities for children.

Children’s language development and sustained attention are encouraged within child-initiated and adult‑initiated activities. Teachers generally support learners to follow their interests. Staff should consider further ways to ensure that the programme provided always invites young children and toddlers to explore and become fully involved in a wide variety of activities.

Programme provision for infants focuses on nurturing their wellbeing through responsive
care giving. Play is viewed as an occasion for learning and providing opportunities for very young learners to become active communicators and explorers.

Narratives and photographs record children's engagement in the programme. Observations of their participation in group experiences are reflected in visual displays within the centre. The collection and sharing of assessment information with families through e-portfolios is a developing aspect of planning for children. This approach has the potential to extend children’s learning and further encourage parent contributions and communication. Teachers should seek support to strengthen their use of this tool to illustrate continuity in learning and show children's progress.

Children’s sense of belonging and wellbeing is effectively supported during and after transitions into the centre. Evaluation of "inquiry time" for older four year old children is required. Teachers need to ensure this programme is always relevant and responsive to learner's interests. Integrating increased early childhood approaches into the more structured times should improve children's learning.

Daily routines and programmes successfully reflect the centre’s bicultural and multicultural community. Waiata and some basic te reo Māori are heard throughout the daily programme. Teachers continue to consider ways to further their understanding about teaching that reflects and responds to Māori and Pacific learners.

Professional leadership requires strengthening. A new appraisal system introduced by Evolve has not been introduced for all teachers. Staff appraisal and attestation of teachers' practising certificates do not meet expected requirements. The centre manager requires support to guide teachers in developing deliberate strategies for working towards appraisal goals and making clear links to relevant professional learning and development. Supporting staff to strengthen their knowledge of high quality practice is a key next step.

Internal evaluation is not well developed. Teachers need support to develop increased understanding of formal, in-depth internal evaluation to improve decision‑making. A recent restructure within Evolve has led to the introduction of new management roles that aim to provide increased support for centre staff. Evolve managers should strengthen systems to provide ongoing guidance and support to centre leaders and teachers for continuous improvement of teaching and learning.

Key Next Steps

ERO, managers and team leaders agree that the following areas need further development:

  • internal evaluation, to improve decision making
  • assessment and planning, to better inform curriculum priorities for teaching and learning
  • systems and processes that build leaders’ and teachers’ capabilities
  • vision and philosophy to align with the rebranding of the service.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Active Explorers Lower Hutt 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified an area of non-compliance relating to self review and appraisal. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following area:

  • ensuring that the service is effectively governed and managed in accordance with good management practices, including review practices and appraisal of all staff.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA6, GMA7]

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report. 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Active Explorers Lower Hutt will be within two years.

Alan Wynyard
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

12 February 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 


Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

68 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 42, Girls 29

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%+
Based on funding rates

80% +

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

12 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

August 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.

1 The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Childhood Concepts Early Learning Centre is one of three private early childhood centres under common ownership. The mixed age centre in Lower Hutt is purpose built and caters for children aged under five years. This is the centre’s first review since it opened in January 2010.

There are separate rooms for different age groups. The Fantail Room provides for children who are under two, and the Kiwi Room provides for children over two years of age. This separation of age groups is flexible and transition between rooms is done in consultation with the child and their parents. Transition has been a recent area for review by managers and teachers. There have been successful gains in facilitating smooth transition with nearby schools.

Children are confident and engaged in their play. Teachers work collaboratively to promote children’s learning. They are responsive to children’s interests and needs and encourage each other to reflect on their teaching practice. Leaders and managers have focused on supporting the growing teaching team to establish a shared vision and cohesive approach to teaching and learning. Partnerships between the home and the centre are fostered.

ERO’s external review affirms leaders and managers in continuing to build a strong team culture, and establish systematic evidence-based self review.

Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

2 Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Childhood Concepts Early Learning Centre (Lower Hutt) was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the centre to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the management and staff. This discussion focused on existing information held by the centre (including self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to positive outcomes for children atChildhood Concepts Early Learning Centre (Lower Hutt).

All ERO education reviews in early childhood focus on the quality of education. For ERO this includes the quality of:

  • the programme provided for children;
  • the learning environment; and
  • the interactions between children and adults.

The Quality of Education


Childhood Concepts Early Learning Centre, Lower Hutt, is a purpose-built centre that caters for children aged under five. Age groups are flexibly arranged into two separate rooms. This is the centre’s first review since it opened in January 2010.

Areas of strength

Teachers are responsive to children’s interests and needs. This reflects the centre’s philosophy and determines the direction of the programme. Parents are encouraged to contribute to their child’s individual programme and their ideas are valued. Parent voice is evident in profile books. Partnerships between the home and the centre are fostered.

Children have individual learning plans which link to Te Whāriki and show the intended learning outcomes and experiences for a specified time. The profile books are attractively presented. Learning stories document the child’s participation in a range of learning experiences. Teachers provide end of year reports to parents which outline their child’s achievements

Opportunities for developing literacy and numeracy are integrated throughout the programme. Teacher-led learning experiences are appropriate. Programme planning is transparent and accessible to all teachers.

Teachers interact with children with care and affection and support developing social awareness. They work collegially to reinforce shared expectations of appropriate behaviour. Teachers are supportive of one another and feel as though they have opportunities for professional development. The integration of te reo Māori in teachers’ conversation with children is in the early stages.

The indoor environment is clean and spacious with clearly differentiated areas for play. The set up of activities makes full use of the space available. Wall displays are attractive and include children’s art work, te reo Māori prompts and examples of numeracy and literacy. A range of equipment supports children engaging in a variety of learning experiences.

Areas for development and review

Teachers have identified assessment and programme planning as areas for development. EROs external evaluation agrees. In addition, the following areas should be considered:

  • establishing a collective approach to supporting and extending children’s learning, including documenting next steps in learning stories

  • embedding a clear purpose for activities and routines that contribute to positive learning outcomes and foster children’s independence.

Centre leaders and managers should continue to support the:

  • fostering of critical and purposeful reflection within teaching teams

  • creating a shared vision for effective teaching and learning

  • growing a culture of strategic, systematic evidence-based self review which supports the implementation of the shared vision.

3 Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Childhood Concepts Early Learning Centre (Lower Hutt) completed an ERO CentreAssurance Statement andSelf-Audit Checklist. In these documents they have attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • administration;
  • health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management; and
  • financial and property management.

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records of recent use of procedures. ERO also checked elements of the following areas that have a potentially high impact on outcomes for children:

  • emotional safety (including behaviour management, prevention of bullying and abuse);
  • physical safety (including behaviour management, sleeping and supervision practices; accidents and medication; hygiene and routines; travel and excursion policies and procedures);
  • staff qualifications and organisation; and
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

4 Future Action

ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

About the Centre


Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

68 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Roll number


Gender composition

Male 33, Female 26

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 30, Māori 16 Pacific 2, Asian 9, Other ethnic groups 2

Review team on site

June 2012

Date of this report

28 August 2012

Previous three ERO reports

This is the centre’s first report.

General Information About Reviews

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve quality of education for children in early childhood centres; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.

Reviews are intended to focus on outcomes for children and build on each centre’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting is based on four review strands.

Quality of Education – including the quality of the programme provided for children, the quality of the learning environment and the quality of the interactions between staff and children and how these impact on outcomes for children.

Additional Review Priorities – other aspects of the operation of a centre, may be included in the review. ERO will not include this strand in all reviews.

Compliance with Legal Requirements – assurance that this centre has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of centre performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to this centre.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a centre is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this centre.