Educare Totara Park

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

11 Wairau Drive, Totara Parklands, Tikipunga, Whangarei

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Educare Totara Park - 07/05/2018

1 Evaluation of Educare Totara Park

How well placed is Educare Totara Park 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.


Educare Totara Park, owned by Educare Early Learning Centres, opened at the beginning of 2016 and is experiencing rapid growth. The centre provides full day early childhood education and care for up to 84 children including up to 28 children under two years of age. Most children who attend are from the local area and identify as Māori or Pākehā. A small number Pacific children also attend.

The children play in two connected areas with one dedicated area to children under two years of age. The older children play together but identify with one of three age related groups. The centre is located in purpose built premises within a new housing area in Tikipunga.

The day-to-day operation of the centre is the responsibility of a centre manager who is relatively new to the role. She is supported by Educare's general manager.

Educare Totara Park is one of 11 centres owned by the directors of Educare Early Learning Centres. The shared vision across this group is "Learn, Laugh, Play". The group's senior leadership team provides administrative and professional support. They also monitor and evaluate the centre's progress towards achieving the centre-specific strategic goals aligned to the organisation's goals. Educare's focus over the past three years has prioritised professional learning and development (PLD) in leadership and in te ao Māori as underpinning practices. More recently, PLD has included a focus on other aspects of the curriculum, and aspects of performance management.

Educare Totara Park's philosophy is consistent with the values of Educare Learning Centres and is aligned with the aims of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. The philosophy promotes respect for all, strong relationships, and effective communication. It recognises the importance of working in partnership with families/whānau to benefit children. The philosophy states a commitment to children experiencing New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

This is the first ERO evaluation of Educare Totara Park.

This review was part of a cluster of six reviews in the Educare Early Learning Centres organisation.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from respectful relationships with adults, and interactions that are unhurried. Teachers take time to listen and talk to children. Infants and toddlers benefit from personalised attention where teachers respond well to their cues, and support their oral language development. Care routines are individualised for each child.

The environment is spacious and well resourced. It encourages children to explore and experiment. The programme allows children to choose where and how they play. Teachers support children to access additional resources.

The centre's rapid growth has meant that teachers have been spending considerable time settling newly enrolled children to the centre. They should now place a stronger focus on extending older children's learning through more sustained and complex play. Staff recognise that improved processes for assessing and planning children's learning could help to achieve this goal.

Children and their families transitioning into the centre are well supported. Parents/whānau are encouraged to spend time at the centre. Teachers could now share with parents how aspirations for their children's learning and development are included in programme planning.

Teachers support children to transition to school. They have established positive relationships with the schools that most children will attend. The movement of children within the centre as they get older is well supported. The close proximity of the areas for children under two and the older children enables all children to communicate, and for younger children to get to know the teachers in the over two area. This layout supports their transition from one area to the next.

Centre staff have focused on ensuring that tamariki Māori have opportunities to experience success as Māori. They have engaged with whānau who support the centre to include aspects of te ao Māori including kapa haka, sharing of local legends and tikanga me te reo o te iwi.

Staff have completed a review of the centre's philosophy. This is an important process when establishing a teaching team in a new centre. They can now specify the desired outcomes for children that they want the programme to support, and use these outcomes to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme. Similarly, further work could be done to clarify the centre's strategic goals. Greater specificity could provide a framework for monitoring improvements over time.

Performance management practices have recently been reviewed by Educare Learning Centres managers. The procedures are increasingly effective in supporting teachers to improve their practice. Appraisal goals are used to identify relevant professional learning and development.

Key Next Steps

Centre managers and ERO agree that the service provided by the centre could be improved by:

  • implementing teaching strategies to engage children over two years of age in more complex and sustained play
  • improving planning and assessment processes for individual children, including making parents' aspirations more visible
  • strengthening strategic planning that is informed by effective internal evaluation.

Educare Learning Centres managers are focused on improvement. They have identified areas they intend to strengthen across all of their centres. These areas include:

  • strengthening strategic documents by including goals related to valued outcomes for children and using these goals to evaluate centre performance
  • supporting centres to provide high quality service by sharing best practice and strengthening quality assurance processes
  • building on the strong leadership culture that exists across the organisation.


Educare managers continue to support the centre to strengthen the aspects of centre operation identified in this report.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Educare Totara Park 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.

During the review ERO identified health and safety matters related to the supervision of children, safe and hygienic practices and hazard management. These matters could have been addressed if Educare Early Learning Centres policies and procedures were more closely followed.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Educare Totara Park will be in three years.

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

7 May 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

84 children, including up to 28 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition



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

February 2018

Date of this report

7 May 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.