Atiamuri Playcentre - 19/02/2019

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

Atiamuri Playcentre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Atiamuri Playcentre is a parent-led education and care service located in the rural village of Atiamuri, 30kms southwest of Rotorua. It caters for children from birth to school age and operates two mixed-age morning sessions per week. The playcentre is licensed for 30 children including up to 18 under the age of two years. The roll has recently grown again after a sharp decline in 2016, fluctuating due to the transient nature of the rural community. The current roll of 12 children includes five who identify as Māori.

During 2018, the New Zealand Playcentre Federation transitioned from operating with 32 regional associations to become one national body with six regional offices. In the central North Island six associations have merged into a regional hub renamed Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region that now includes 95 playcentres over a large geographic area. During this transition there is some overlap between associations and the new national regional systems and processes. At Atiamuri Playcentre the president is supported by a committee of parent members. A centre administrator is provided by the federation. All committee members are new since the 2015 ERO review.

Through their national philosophy, the playcentre places emphasis on whānau tupu ngātahi – families growing together. They empower adults and children to play, work and grow together and value and affirm parents as first and best educators of their children.

Since the 2015 ERO review, new members have had training about internal evaluation to support a more robust process. Assessment remains an area for development.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentre reviews in the Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region.

The Review Findings

Children learn alongside their parents as first teachers, building strong, supportive relationships within their rural community. Oral language is well supported through open-ended questioning. Playcentre members have established useful positive relationships with the adjacent school. Older children visit school and participate with Māori waiata and kapa haka lessons, supporting transition to school and learning more about Māori culture. Children’s learning has followed an activity based, pre-planned approach. Recently members have been more responsive to emerging interests. They should continue on this journey and focus on a more child-led curriculum. Children are encouraged to be confident and competent learners.

Children benefit from an extensively equipped environment. Further consideration is needed to enable children to more readily access all of the rich resources and materials independently. The home-like environment and large outdoor space provides risk taking and challenge through the many areas of play. Trips and excursions out into the community support meaningful learning. Children’s participation in the programme is captured in learning portfolios. With the centre having many new members there is now a need to offer guidance for these parents to ensure that all children have their learning journeys assessed and planned for.

Children under the age of two years enjoy a calm and responsive learning space. It is age appropriate and allows for free movement, and for curiosity and independence to be fostered. Members are reading and responding appropriately to very young children’s non-verbal cues. Infants and toddlers attend with their parents or care-givers, supporting them to develop a sense of wellbeing and belonging.

Leaders are highly focussed on growing capability and the sustainability of the service. They share their knowledge and model quality assessment practices to newer members. A useful framework for internal evaluation is in place. This now needs to be further strengthened with a focus on children’s learning outcomes. The centre vision, mission and philosophy are well designed and shared amongst all members. A strategic focus ensures that the building and grounds are safely maintained. A collaborative culture ensures the smooth-running of this centre.

The Playcentre Aotearoa overarching strategic plan, philosophy, vision and individual annual plans have been implemented and guide the playcentre direction. There is a focus on building capability through recently reviewed and improved parent education programmes. Regular communication and support between the Playcentre Aotearoa and regions through the restructure supported business as usual. Existing policies and systems support centre operations until all new systems developed by Playcentre Aotearoa are implemented nationally. The federation is committed to offering more accessible localised training to respond to the needs of the community.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for Atiamuri Playcentre leaders are to:

  • continue to develop internal evaluation that focuses on children’s learning outcomes
  • provide all members with support to strengthen curriculum knowledge and assessment processes. This should focus on noticing, recognising and responding to children's emerging interests. This is necessary to support members to continue on their journey to initiate a more child-led curriculum.
  • capture children's language, culture and identity in learning portfolios.

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.

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services
Central Region

19 February 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


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 18 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls                       8
Boys                      4

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

19 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2015

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.