Happy Hearts Riverhead Early Learning Centre

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

2 Albert Street, Riverhead

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1 Evaluation of Happy Hearts Riverhead Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Happy Hearts Riverhead 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.


Happy Hearts Riverhead Early Learning Centre opened in October 2015 and is licensed for 70 children, including 12 up to the age of two years. The centre operates from a purpose-built facility located in the Riverhead township. It is organised into three age-related areas. The area for the youngest group also has its own outdoor space. The other two areas share a large outdoor environment that provides opportunities for mixed age play.

The centre philosophy advocates deep respect for children. It upholds the centre's strategic direction that strives for high quality early childhood education practice, promotes positive partnerships with parents, and values the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. The curriculum is influenced and guided by Christian values.

The husband and wife team of owners, in their separate roles of business and centre director, support the head teacher for the babies, and toddlers. At the time of the 2018 ERO external evaluation, the centre director was acting in the head teacher position for the pre-school area. Most teachers are qualified and registered, or in training.

This is the first ERO report for the centre.

The Review Findings

Children and families experience trusting relationships with teachers. Teachers respond well to parents’ requests and their aspirations. These features contribute to children having a strong sense of belonging and being secure and settled in the centre. Children experience successful transitions into the centre, between the centre's different areas, and from the centre to school.

Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum's principles are evident in the programme. Older children experience uninterrupted and open-ended play. They are supported as capable learners by having ready access to a variety of natural resources, and being able to move freely between indoor and outdoor areas of play.

Teachers converse with children about their ideas and respond to their requests for help and extra resources to support their play. Children have good opportunities to problem solve, learn collaboratively, and extend their thinking. The curriculum increasingly helps children develop as thoughtful citizens, considerate of their environment and others.

Infants and toddlers are well nurtured by calm, respectful interactions with their teachers. Their space and resources suit their age and stage of learning. Teachers follow these children's preferences and cater for their interests and exploration effectively.

Teachers plan adeptly for children's emerging interests. They provide opportunities for children to develop skills and knowledge of literacy, mathematics and science in the context of their play. Some features of the programme and environment reflect te ao Māori. Teachers plan to build on, and integrate the centre’s bicultural curriculum throughout learning programmes. This development will further support Māori children to use their culture, language and identity as part of their learning. It also will help all children to more fully understand what it means to belong to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Teachers are highly reflective practitioners, and have a very good sense of ownership of the centre's appraisal process. They have opportunities to lead in different areas of the centre's operations. Ongoing professional learning extends teachers' practice and builds on their capabilities. Staff willingly contribute their ideas and talents, and share their passion to achieve positive outcomes for all children.

The centre is very well led and governed. The business and centre directors make employment and resourcing decisions based on what is best for children. Their holistic view of the child and family influences the way staff work positively with parents to meet their aspirations and requirements. Teachers cater for children with additional needs very well, and are understanding of the requirements of families with these children.

Internal evaluation is very well understood and is used effectively to inform ongoing improvement. The centre has a very good policy framework and systems that guide its overall operation.

Key Next Steps

ERO endorses the centre's focus on enhancing very good quality centre practices. Self-identified next steps for leaders and teachers include:

  • evaluating the extent to which the centre’s philosophy is embedded effectively in teaching practice
  • enhancing records of learning to show the teachers' role in catering for, and extending individual children's learning
  • developing bicultural practice that is authentic and meaningful for adults and children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

28 March 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


Riverhead, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

70 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 45 Boys 40

Ethnic composition

Cook Island Māori


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

January 2018

Date of this report

28 March 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

No previous ERO reports

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.