Atiamuri Playcentre - 15/05/2015

1 Evaluation of Atiamuri Playcentre

How well placed is Atiamuri 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.


Atiamuri Playcentre is a rural parent-led service that provides education and care for children from birth to school age. Located next to Atiamuri School, 30 km south west of Rotorua, the centre operates one morning session each week. The centre is licensed for 30 children, including up to 18 under the age of two years. At the time of this ERO review the centre had a roll of nine children including three babies and young toddlers.

Since the October 2013 ERO review there has been a change in the leadership of the centre and also a slight decline in its roll.

Atiamuri Playcentre operates under the umbrella of Rotorua Playcentre Association, which acts as its governing body. The association strongly endorses playcentre philosophy, and aims to empower parents to be the first and best educators of their children. It expects that parents will act as volunteer leaders and managers for their playcentre. The association employs staff to provide centre parents with guidance and support. The knowledgeable operations manager is readily available to assist with information, and an experienced centre support officer attends playcentre sessions and meetings to advise and mentor members. The association receives reports from the centre support officer and the centre that provide assurance of compliance with licensing, health and safety and other operational requirements.

Playcentres offer a recognised adult education qualification, designed to assist parents to provide appropriate learning opportunities for their children. The association offers training towards this qualification for all members. In addition, the association recently provided professional development through a Ministry of Education contract. An experienced tutor assisted the association and its centres to use self review to promote and evaluate the organisation’s strategic goals.

Through its strategic plan, the association provides a framework for centres to set their development goals. These relate to their Te Tiriti o Waitangi commitment, the vibrancy of their communities of learning, their recognition in the wider community, and their sustainable future.

This review was part of a cluster of six playcentre reviews in the Rotorua Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Atiamuri Playcentre continues to provide a valuable service for the Atiamuri community.

The centre is led by an enthusiastic group of parents who are committed to providing a quality service for children and parents in this rural community. They are well supported by two experienced and knowledgeable centre life members who attend the weekly sessions. These important playcentre members have higher levels of playcentre qualifications and provide effective and ongoing mentoring for the parents. At the time of this ERO review several of the parents were undertaking playcentre training.

Children enjoy participating in a child-initiated programme alongside their parents, playcentre friends, and in some cases their siblings. Particular strengths of the programme include:

  • regular trips and excursions into the local and wider community
  • the effective integration of mathematics, literacy and science learning into children’s play
  • positive relationships with the neighbouring school that support children’s transitions.

The spacious outdoor play area provides many opportunities for children to learn about their natural world, to explore, and to experience safe physical challenge. The centre’s home-like building includes a specifically resourced area for babies and toddlers that allow them to learn and explore in a calm and settled environment. The centre has an extensive range of learning resources, many of which reflect New Zealand’s natural environment. Parents ensure that these resources are well maintained and are easily accessible to children.

Parent leaders are conscious of recognising New Zealand’s bicultural heritage. Te ao Māori is celebrated in wall displays featuring te reo Māori and also in many of the centre’s resources.

A strong feature of the centre is the caring and nurturing relationships among adults and children. Parents actively participate alongside children in play. ERO observed parents thoughtfully responding to children’s emerging interests and learning by adding complexity to the play. Children have many opportunities to develop their problem solving, oral language and social skills.

Parents appreciate the opportunity while at playcentre to share with and learn about others parenting experiences and knowledge.

As a result of the recent self review of assessment practices, parents have developed several useful processes that support them to identify their children’s emerging interests and next learning steps.

Portfolios provide a colourful and well-presented record of each child’s involvement in the programme. These are greatly valued by parents and are well used by children to revisit previous learning experiences.

Key Next Steps

An important next step for parents is to complete a self review of assessment processes. This should support parents to embed the development of recently introduced assessment practices that support them to identify and extend on children’s emerging interests and next learning steps.

The association has agreed that recognising and celebrating learning for both adults and children is an essential part of valuing the ‘Playcentre experience’. Adding a goal to the association and centre strategic plans for identifying and building on programme successes would focus attention on the quality of learning opportunities and outcomes for children.

To implement this goal, agreed indicators are needed that identify effective teaching practices that build programme success. These indicators should include interactions that foster children’s language development, and intentional teaching strategies to engage in, and extend, children’s learning.

Consideration could also be given to including a responsibility for identifying and modelling quality teaching interactions, and providing feedback, as part of centre support visits. Including references to Ministry of Education guidelines would assist centres to evaluate their programmes and identify areas for further improvement.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Atiamuri 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 May 2015

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service


near Rotorua

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 18 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 5

Girls 4

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

15 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

October 2013


Education Review

June 2010

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.