Radio NZ: Susan Warren on the rise of early childcare centres in Auckland


COMET Auckland’s Chief Executive, Susan Warren, spoke with Radio New Zealand about the large number of new early childcare centres that have been established throughout Auckland this year, the highest number since 2009.

Of the 93 new ECE centres, 50 are being run from people’s homes – which is a controversial and often criticised method of delivery.

Susan told Radio NZ this increase could mean good news, but was largely dependent on where the new services were being opened.

“Many of the services that have been just opened this year are in the higher socio-economic areas and they tend to be the areas that are better served already for early learning,” she said

“So it’s a little bit of a concern that not very many of those new services are in low socio-economic areas.

“There seems to be an indication that quality is a bit more variable in home-based services than it is in others and if the pattern is followed, we would have to question what quality those services would be.”

Click here to read the full article.



We are pleased to announce the COMET Auckland annual report for 2014/2015 is now available online. We invite you to browse through our recent work and achievements, and to learn how we are working with partners and stakeholders across the city to drive better educations outcomes for all Aucklanders.
The report summarises our actions and outcomes for 2014/15 and gives an overview of our strategic directions for the year ahead, contributing towards systems change to make education and skills in Auckland more effective and equitable.

We hope you find our annual report a useful tool to better understand the work we are doing and how your organisation can collaborate with us in your part of the education and skills system.

You can access the annual report here.


A key part of our role is advocating on issues, opportunities and challenges for education and skills in Auckland. We often engage with the local media to advocate for these issues, as do our many project partners and stakeholders.

Shirley Johnson, COMET Auckland’s Skills Manager, talked to Radio Waatea about the Science in Society contract, which will be a great opportunity to engage communities with science.

COMET Auckland’s Chief Executive, Susan Warren, discussed the impacts that New Zealand’s increasing economic disparities, as revealed in recent school decile data, will have on education – where some children don’t have room to relax, learn and study, and how insecure housing causes disruptions in a child’s learning. Susan also discussed our Auckland Languages Strategy, and how this policy will support language diversity in Auckland.

As the programme owner for Whānau Ara Mua, we were delighted to work with Sunday News, which did a great feature on Ariana Timu, a recent graduate of the family learning course. In the article, Ariana explains how developing her literacy and math skills has improved her confidence in the home, fostering stronger relationships with her children.

Please check out the links below for some of the interviews and articles on important education and skills topics:

To access this article, or to read about more of the projects we are involved in, please click here to check out the full May 2015 Newsletter.


COMET Auckland is looking for new board members to join our strong, diverse and collegial board to help shape our direction and contribute to systems change across education in Auckland. This position is a three year commitment, with eight meetings per year.

For more information on this positon, and how to apply, please click  here

Applications close Monday 4 May 2015

To access this article, or to read more of the projects we are involved in, please click here to check out the full April 2015 Newsletter.


This is an opportunity to provide input to our Statement of Intent for 2015/16. There will also be an opportunity to network over a glass of wine at the end of the formal meeting.We are holding our annual consultation meeting in May and we welcome stakeholders, educators and community leaders to attend the meeting and to help us to shape our work for the next year.

When: From 3.30pm to 5:00pm, Monday 18 May
Where: Room AJ100, AUT North Campus, Akoranga Drive, Northcote

If you would like to attend the public consultation meeting, please RSVP by Tuesday May 12th to Danielle Meredith on (09) 307 2101 or email

To access this article, or to read more of the projects we are involved in, please click here to check out the April 2015 Newsletter.

Supporting parents to build literacy at home

What does a strengths-based approach for working with parents look like? ORIM is a framework for helping parents support and build their children’s literacy.  Developed out of the University of Sheffield as part of Sheffield REAL (Raising Early Literacy Achievement) and trialled over 10 years, ORIM has spread nationally and is used in a variety of contexts  – mainstream early schooling, children’s centres, bilingual services, and even in prisons. 

 There are four components to the framework: Parents create and recognise opportunities to learn; parents recognise children’s readiness to learn and their learning activities; parents interact with children and learning and literacy activities; modelling reading and writing, encouraging children to have a go.

Recognition is key – parents come to realise their job is to create literacy opportunities and they become confident at picking up and acting on those learning moments.  

What makes ORIM distinctive ? First, it is underpinned by an understanding of parents as learners – so it builds on good adult education practice.  It’s not a pre-determined programme so it can be picked up by diverse providers and services and applied in a variety of contexts; it doesn’t assume or require any literacy level –   it starts where parents are at.

And its effective. Children whose parents took part in an ORIM  programme when the children were pre-schoolers  had their literacy measured at age 7, as part of a randomised control trial. All programme children had an edge over the control group children.  The biggest impact was on children whose mothers had no qualifications. This research involved mostly poor white children but similar  findings came from another smaller trial in a dual language settings with Pakistani families.

Its been 20 years since the first development project in one Sheffield school. Its now embedded in early learing services in many local authorities and has been taken up in Johannesbug, Portugal and Melbourne.  I came away from my meeting with Professor Cathy Nutbrown inspired, keen to join the ORIM network and to explore how to incorporate ORIM to our work on early learning and oracy through Learning Auckland.

Budget cuts threaten CCO

This article appeared in the Auckland City Harbour News on March 13, 2015, by Laura Walters. 

The council-controlled education organisation COMET Auckland is facing a 43 per cent budget cut, which could threaten the group’s existence.

The organisation works as an advocacy group and aims to drive systems change to make education and skills more effective and equitable across Auckland.

COMET is facing a 43 per cent cut to its annual budget under Auckland Council’s proposed Long Term Plan, which would translate to $260,000 less a year.

The organisation currently receives $580,000 in council funding each year and employs 5.4 people.

COMET is already one of the leanest council-controlled organisations, chief executive Susan Warren says.

‘‘We know council needs to make cuts, but the level of cut that has been proposed for COMET Auckland would severely limit our ability to fulfil our role, and longer term, it could threaten our existence altogether.’’

The group is currently leading work on youth employability and Maori language revitalisation, which the council has identified as key focus areas for the city’s economic and social growth, Warren says.

This work would be under threat if the group’s budget was reduced, she says.

Warren will not say whether a budget cut would result in job losses but it is a possibility as the group’s largest cost is wages.

COMET says about 20 per cent of children and young people fail in the education system.

About 36 per cent of Auckland children are behind in reading at the end of their first year of school, Warren says.

Almost a quarter are behind when they start secondary school and about 20 per cent drop out of school before the age of 16.

There are 24,200 young Aucklanders not in education, employment or training, and in the past the council has said it is a barrier to economic development.

They represent 11.4 per cent of the national working age population.

‘‘Our focus is improving education outcomes for the 1 in 5 young people who are not currently well-served by our education system, and now we are asking for some support too,’’ Warren says.

COMET Auckland has made a submission to the council against the budget cut.