BestStart Balclutha - 07/08/2019

1 Evaluation of BestStart Balclutha

How well placed is BestStart Balclutha to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

BestStart Balclutha is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


BestStart Balclutha provides all-day education and care from 7.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. It is located in the Balclutha township. It is licensed for 50 children including 10 under-two-year olds. Children from birth to school age learn and play in two rooms (Poumahaka for infants and toddlers; Mata-au for two to six year olds).

The service is governed by the BestStart organisation with a centre manager running day-to-day operations and two head teachers having oversight of the two rooms. A professional services manager and a local business manager support the centre.

Children attend from a wide geographical area around Balclutha. The roll is increasingly representing families from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The philosophy includes valued outcomes such as for children to:

  • develop a sense of whanaungatanga

  • know their identity and that it is valued

  • develop a strong sense of 'paying it forward'

  • know about and honour New Zealand's bicultural heritage

  • develop tuakana-teina and ako relationships.

The centre has made good progress in addressing the recommendations from the 2016 ERO report. The recommendation relating to assessment, planning and evaluation of learning and teaching is work in progress.

BestStart Balclutha is a member of the Big River Kāhui Ako| Community of Learning.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from respectful interactions and caring relationships with their teachers. Teachers have a collegial and collaborative approach that supports good teamwork. The centre has a culture of caring. This is demonstrated by the 'paying it forward' philosophy which benefits the centre and community. The curriculum has a strong focus on children learning to care for and serve others.

The curriculum is responsive to children's needs strengths and interests. This includes:

  • opportunities for early literacy and numeracy learning

  • a programme for four-year-old children in readiness for school

  • a focus on sustaining a healthy environment and reducing waste

  • children transitioning confidently into, through, and out of, the centre

  • developing children's' awareness of te ao Māori and ensuring Māori perspectives are well integrated into the programme and teaching practices.

Te Wheke (a multifaceted curriculum model) provides a framework that interlinks the local curriculum with the principles and strands of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Māori children and children from diverse cultural backgrounds are well supported in their learning and language.

Children with additional needs are well supported to be involved in learning and in the life of the centre. The manager and teachers advocate for these children and their families to access appropriate funding and support.

Infants and toddlers have close relationships with their teachers. Teachers provide a warm, caring environment which fosters trust and security in children. The daily care routines are carried out in a responsive and respectful manner.

Teachers know children and their families/whānau well. Records of planning for individuals incorporates children's interests and parents' wishes. The best examples show the strategies teachers intend to use to extend children's learning. Such examples now need to become common practice.

BestStart has effective systems to monitor physical and emotional health and safety for all involved in the service. A robust appraisal system supports teachers to improve their practice in an ongoing way. Professional development is provided to build teachers' capability and to establish shared understandings.

A useful model for internal evaluation supports ongoing positive improvements. This could become even stronger by ensuring the focus is evaluative rather than descriptive. This should help leaders and teachers to better know how well aspects are impacting on outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

ERO's evaluation has confirmed, and the leaders agree, that useful next steps are:

  • to strengthen internal evaluation by ensuring a consistent focus on evaluation rather than description

  • to clarify head teachers' roles and responsibilities

  • for guidelines to be developed so that teachers are supported to consistently show in assessment records how they intend to extend children's learning

  • for leaders to continue to develop a system that makes children's learning goals visible so that all teachers can contribute support for the learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of BestStart Balclutha 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.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

7 August 2019

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

50 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 34, Girls 25

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

7 August 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

May 2016

Education Review

May 2014

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.