PART 5: ERO’s Education Reviews in Early Childhood Education Services

This section provides a brief description of the elements that make up the review structure. These are:

  1. ERO’s overall evaluation question
  2. Ngā Pou Here –the review framework
  3. Capacity and sustainability
  4. Priority learners
  5. National evaluation topics
  6. Compliance

ERO's overall evaluation question

ERO’s review will answer the overall evaluation question:

How well placed is this service to promote positive learning outcomes for all children?

In answering this question, ERO’s structure for reviewing and reporting helps early childhood services to see what they are doing well, where they need to develop and what they should do next to improve outcomes for children.

Ngā Pou Here - the review framework

This is a circular diagram with the four pou standing as columns they are Matauranga - Responsive curriculumn, understanding children and families, assesment and planning and professional knowledge. Pou Whakahaere - Vision, strategic definition, policy framework, management of resoures and sustainable improvement. Pou Arahi - builiding capacity, leadership, realising the vision, organisational culture and professional practice. Tikanga Whakaako - relationships, teaching and learning, Te Tiriti based practise, transitions and environments. At the top of the diagram is Arotake  - self review and evaluation for improvement (evident in each pou) and the bottom Haere Kotui - Working in partnership with families and whanau (evident in each pou.

Ngā Pou Here is ERO’s framework for the evaluation of processes and practices in an early childhood service. The overall aim of using Ngā Pou Here is for ERO to evaluate the service’s capacity to promote positive learning outcomes for all children and to sustain a process of ongoing improvement.

Ngā Pou Here explores four key areas:

  • Pou Whakahaere – how the service determines its vision, philosophy and direction to ensure positive learning outcomes for children
  • Pou Ārahi – how leadership is enacted to enhance positive learning outcomes for children
  • Mātauranga – whose knowledge is valued and how the curriculum is designed to achieve positive learning outcomes for children
  • Tikanga Whakaako – how approaches to teaching and learning are responsive to diversity and support positive learning outcomes for children.

Within each Pou ERO considers the extent to which the service is enacting Haere Kōtui (working in partnership) and using Arotake (evaluative approaches). As connecting elements, Haere Kōtui and Arotake are envisaged as weaving through and connecting each Pou.

ERO’s evaluation indicators in PART 6 clarify the basis on which ERO evaluates early childhood services’ performance within Ngā Pou Here, and also provide a tool to assist early childhood services with self review.

Reviewers use Ngā Pou Here to design and undertake the review according to each early childhood service’s context, while ensuring that the focus remains on the service’s capacity to promote the wellbeing and learning of all children.

Capacity and sustainability

The structure of Ngā Pou Here supports ERO to determine the capacity a service has to sustain and continue to improve the quality of provision for all children.

For services that are not performing well, Ngā Pou Here will help review officers to identify and prioritise the key areas for development. For services that demonstrate a high level of performance, the review can focus on the service’s own information about how well it promotes positive learning outcomes for all children.

ERO’s review process takes into account each early childhood service’s context, performance and capacity. The review framework remains sufficiently flexible for review officers to design reviews that are responsive to context.

Priority learners and ERO’s review structure

A priority for the government is that every child has the opportunity to participate in high quality early childhood education. The Government’s priority learners include children who are Māori, Pacific, from low income families, and those with diverse needs. ERO also includes children up to the age of two.

Educational opportunities and outcomes for Māori are a focus in all evaluation work conducted by ERO. In early childhood services, ERO will review how well services promote participation and engagement of Māori children and whānau. ERO looks for evidence that Māori children are actively engaged in their learning, are progressing well and succeeding as Māori.

For children of Pacific heritage, ERO will explore how their culture, languages and identities are recognised and responded to in order to help them succeed.

Children with diverse needs include children with special education needs or special abilities, children who speak English as an additional language, and children of migrants and refugees. ERO will review how well the services recognise and provide for children’s particular learning needs.

Where a service enrols children two years and under, ERO will maintain a close focus on provision for the learning and wellbeing of these infants and toddlers

National Evaluation Topics

The national evaluation topics (NETs) are an important part of ERO’s review process. Through the NETs, ERO investigates key aspects of early childhood services’ performance in relation to the Government’s education priorities. Topics for investigation change regularly and are decided in consultation with the Minister, the Ministry of Education and other government agencies.

ERO uses a range of ways to gather information for its national reports, depending on the scope and focus of the information needed. Currently ERO uses one or a combination of the following evaluative approaches:

  • specific in-depth questions asked by review officers during reviews
  • analysis of confirmed ERO reports on early childhood services
  • questionnaires sent directly by ERO to early childhood services
  • specific studies undertaken by ERO in early childhood services outside of the scheduled Education Review.

Information from individual early childhood service reviews is gathered, aggregated and analysed. System-wide evaluation judgements are developed from this analysis and published in education evaluation reports which are on ERO’s website and often printed as booklets.

Early childhood services will be notified of the current NET before their scheduled ERO review. Information about current NETs is also provided on ERO’s website.


Early childhood services operate under a comprehensive set of regulations (reflecting the importance of safety and wellbeing for young children) and there is a public expectation that ERO will continue to check on compliance with these regulations.

ERO supports services’ management of compliance functions and places emphasis on services’ own reporting on compliance. ERO has developed the Guidelines for Centre [Management] Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists so that services can provide assurance that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

During the course of all reviews, ERO checks performance in respect of compliance as attested in the Assurance Statement.

Compliance is not a major focus of reviews unless it appears to ERO that there are significant levels of risk to children’s safety and wellbeing. If the checking process indicates significant problems, ERO will investigate further or make a recommendation to the Ministry of Education to reassess the service’s compliance with licensing requirements.