Oamaru Playcentre - 17/10/2017

1 Evaluation of Oamaru Playcentre

How well placed is Oamaru Playcentre 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.


Oamaru Playcentre was fully relicensed as a playcentre in January 2017, after a long period of time operating as a licensed playgroup and providing a Supporting Parents Alongside Children's Education (SPACE) programme. A local playgroup shares the buildings and resources. There are two morning sessions each week for children of mixed ages up to school age, and an afternoon session specifically for children under two. Many families travel from a wide geographical area to attend. The sessions are led by a supervision team with playcentre qualifications. A parent council has oversight for the day-to-day management and operation of the service.

Oamaru Playcentre is one of 25 within the Otago Playcentre Association (OPA). The Association consists of a core group of dedicated paid and elected members. To support members it provides a framework for management and operations, parent education programmes and personnel.

The OPA is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Association (NZPF) to reduce duplication and make cost savings. The restructure will mean significant changes at an association level.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentre reviews in the Otago Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

A motivated and dedicated group of parents and an education team have worked hard to re-establish the Oamaru Playcentre. With the support of the OPA, they have carried out significant work to develop useful systems to manage the centre. These efforts, including the very good progress made on assessing and planning for children's learning, are contributing to positive outcomes for children.

There are high levels of parent involvement in the day-to-day programme and life of the playcentre. Parents are involved in their own and other children's learning. The education team and parents have clear priorities for children's learning including developing:

  • a strong sense of ownership of and belonging within the playcentre and wider community

  • increasing independence and self-help skills

  • skills to be a friend

  • dispositions of curiosity and exploration.

The education team and parents make very good use of the local community to support children's sense of belonging and wellbeing. They are creating an environment where Māori and Pacific children and their whānau know that their culture is valued. They intentionally include Māori and Pacific perspectives in the programme.

Children under two are well supported in the programme. They are the primary responsibility of their parents and are supported by other adults in the programme. They benefit from a wide range of appropriate resources to support their exploration and development.

Adults plan programmes based on the principles and strands of Te Whāriki (the early childhood curriculum). They have clear ideas for the intended learning for children in group planning. The next step is for the adults to evaluate how well these plans have supported the intended learning.

The parent council has a strong focus on roll growth and ongoing sustainability, including ensuring parents are participating in playcentre training. The education team has carried out spontaneous evaluations to make improvements to aspects of programmes, operation and practices. Currently, internal evaluation is the responsibility of the education team. The OPA and centre advisor need to support the education team and parents to develop effective internal evaluation practices. The schedule of review of playcentre operations needs strengthening.

The playcentre benefits from ongoing support from the OPA. Centre advisors use effective internal evaluation to monitor how well centres are promoting positive outcomes for children. They identify the strengths and areas for support for each playcentre and report to the OPA. The OPA ensures that decisions made further support the playcentre. Regular appraisals are carried out, however, the appraisal process needs to be further developed to be effective. The OPA is achieving its strategic goal to increase the numbers of parents who participate in playcentre training to ensure ongoing sustainability. The OPA regularly monitors progress towards the strategic goals and evaluates the effectiveness of strategies.

Key Next Steps

The playcentre supervisors and parents, with the support of the OPA need to:

  • continue to develop planning, assessment and evaluation

  • develop their understanding and use of effective internal evaluation practices.

The key next step for the OPA is to ensure:

  • the appraisal system continues to be developed and embedded.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Oamaru Playcentre 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.

To improve current practice, the OPA should:

  • ensure playcentre members use the most recent OPA policies and procedures to guide their practice

  • improve toilet facilities to enable persons with disabilities to change children's nappies.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Oamaru Playcentre will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

17 October 2017

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


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

25 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 18

Girls: 16

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent Led

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

17 October 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2012

Education Review

November 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.