Steiner Cottage

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

13 Laery Street, Alicetown, Lower Hutt

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1 Evaluation of Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Centre

How well placed is Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood 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.


Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Centre, known locally as 'Steiner Cottage', is located in Alicetown, Lower Hutt. It provides all-day education and care for children aged between two and six years, and is licensed for 18 children.

Rudolf Steiner educational philosophy underpins the programme. Daily rhythms, food preparation and care for the environment are the joint responsibility of teachers and children.

The centre is governed by a trust board. In 2016, the new role of centre manager was created to support management. The head teacher leads the teaching team and has responsibility for curriculum and parent education. All teachers are registered.

The March 2014 ERO report, identified that a number of areas required improvement, including capability in teaching and bicultural responsiveness. The roles of management, governance and teaching also needed clarification. Leaders and teachers have worked collaboratively to address these aspects of practice.

The Review Findings

The Rudolf Steiner philosophy is highly evident in all aspects of the programme. Children follow daily rhythms that support their sense of belonging. The environment and resources encourage imaginary play and allow them opportunities to explore the natural world. Teachers foster respectful relationships. A calm, relaxed atmosphere supports engagement in learning. A number of useful strategies support children's transitions to school.

The curriculum is well informed by children's interests. Group planning links to Te Whāriki (the early childhood curriculum), Rudolf Steiner philosophy and the centre's strategic direction. Some teaching practices extend children's thinking. Parents have opportunities to contribute to their children's learning. An agreed next step is to strengthen responsiveness to parents' aspirations and families' cultures, languages and identities.

A useful framework supports programme planning. Assessment documentation records children's ongoing participation in the programme and individual interests. Leaders and teachers recognise that continuing to strengthen assessment practice is a key next step to better inform planning for individual children's learning. ERO's evaluation affirms this direction.

Children learn about some aspects of te ao Māori. Leaders and teachers are continuing to strengthen their bicultural approach. Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are evident to some extent in routines and resources. Strengthening understanding of the bicultural curriculum and te ao Māori should better support successful outcomes for Māori children.

The teaching team is developing a shared understanding of internal evaluation. Spontaneous review is ongoing and has led to positive improvement. Leaders and teachers recognise that understanding and use of internal evaluation require further development. ERO's external evaluation affirms this direction for ongoing improvement to practice and operation.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have worked collaboratively to identify a clear vision and set direction for the centre. This development is underpinned by the shared philosophy, values and beliefs. Management, governance and teaching responsibilities are clearly defined to successfully support centre operation. Trustees and staff are improvement focused and putting appropriate plans in place for future sustainability.

Key Next Steps

Senior leaders and ERO agree that Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Centre should strengthen:

  • responsiveness to parents' aspirations and children's cultures, languages and identities

  • assessment practices to better inform planning for individual children's learning

  • the bicultural curriculum and te ao Māori

  • understanding and use of internal evaluation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood 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 Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Centre will be in three years.

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

16 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

18 children aged over 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 15, Girls 8

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

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2017

Date of this report

16 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Supplementary Review

March 2014

Education Review

October 2012

Education Review

February 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 Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Centre governing body and management in relation to areas identified in the October 2012 ERO report or issues identified since that review. The terms of reference for this review are to investigate:

  • assessment, evaluation and planning
  • bicultural practices and provision for Māori children
  • leadership, roles and responsibilities
  • self review.

2 Evaluation Findings


The centre, located in Alicetown, is a service for children aged between two and five years. Recently appointed staff and management have made changes to indoor and outdoor spaces to better reflect the Rudolf Steiner philosophy. Good relationships between teachers, children and families underpin all aspects of centre practice.

The October 2012 ERO supplementary report found that the centre was well resourced and organised with materials that support the Rudolf Steiner early childhood philosophy. Parents described their children as confident and competent, with their diverse needs considered and supported.

However, ERO had concerns about:

  • assessment, evaluation and planning of teaching and learning, using the Rudolf Steiner philosophy and Te Whāriki
  • bicultural practices and the provision for Māori children needing to reflect current theory and practices
  • the lack of clearly defined roles and leadership responsibilities
  • the need to effectively use self review to support a clearer focus on ongoing improvements.

Areas of progress

Teachers are developing their understanding and use of the Rudolf Steiner philosophy in teaching and learning. Planning has developed and is more purposeful and relevant. Teachers identify children’s interests, strengths and abilities. Journey books highlight the learning and show progress. Learning stories are linked to each term’s planning focus. Improved communication informs parents and whānau about their child's learning and progress. Teachers are building partnerships that support children’s learning.

Teachers use te reo Māori frequently and purposefully when interacting with children. Te reo is increasingly integrated into collective times and journey books. Teachers acknowledge the need to build their capability to see their practice through te ao Māori perspective. The proposed development of the environment and resources should improve children’s experience and awareness of te ao Māori. Trustees are appropriately exploring the use of an external advisor to support teachers to further develop their knowledge and understanding.

Since the previous ERO report, a new head teacher and two provisionally registered teachers have been appointed. Improvements have been made in organisation and efficiency of administration. The centre is now licensed under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008. Job descriptions for teachers are being developed. There continues to be a lack of clarity between management and governance roles.

Teachers have engaged in professional learning and development to build a better understanding of self review. Leaders are beginning to create a suitable framework for self review based on the Ministry of Education model Ngā Arohaehae Whai Hua – Self-Review Guidelines for Early Childhood Education.

Self review is increasingly used to explore and improve aspects of centre provision for children. Some policies and procedures have been reviewed and updated, which better reflect current centre practice. Health and safety concerns have been successfully addressed.

Areas for further improvement

ERO identify and leaders agree that, in order to build and sustain the momentum for improvement, trustees and teachers should:

  • develop teaching practices that extend children’s thinking and learning
  • improve assessment to better show children’s development
  • further develop curriculum planning to more closely reflect centre philosophy and be more responsive to children’s interests
  • continue to build staff capability for responding to Māori learners
  • develop resources and an environment that more strongly reflects commitment to bicultural Aotearoa/New Zealand
  • further clarify the roles of management, governance and teaching responsibilities to improve provision for children.

3 Future Action

The next ERO review of Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Centre will be in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

19 March 2014

Information about the Service


Alicetown, Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education and Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

18 children aged over two

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 22, Boys 10

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Percentage of qualified teachers


Review team on site

December 2013

Date of this report

19 March 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

October 2012

February 2009