Balclutha Playcentre - 18/05/2018

1 Evaluation of Balclutha Playcentre

How well placed is Balclutha 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.


Balclutha Playcentre is one of 47 playcentres within the New Zealand Playcentre Federation's newly-formed South Island Southern Region (SISR). It is open three mornings a week. Up to 25 children aged from birth to school age attend with their parents. The families attend from Balclutha and surrounding districts, and some travel considerable distances.

The sessions are coordinated by an unpaid educator who is a parent within the playcentre, and by parents who have a range of playcentre qualifications. Many of the parents are continuing to increase their levels of training.

In 2017, the playcentre was supported by a centre advisor with occasional visits and frequent communications from the Otago Playcentre association (OPA). In 2018, as a result of the Playcentre Federation restructuring of the Association, the playcentre now has regular visits and receives ongoing support from a Centre Support Worker (CSW).

This review was part of a cluster of nine reviews of SISR playcentres.

The Review Findings

Since the November 2014 ERO review, the parents at Balclutha Playcentre have capably addressed the recommendations of the ERO report. This has resulted in a strengthened bicultural programme, improved planning and assessment practices, and greater confidence in using spontaneous internal evaluation as a way to make continuous improvements. Many parents have undertaken playcentre education training, the roll has grown and most children remain enrolled at playcentre until they start school. These factors contribute to the way Balclutha Playcentre is sustaining and promoting positive outcomes for children. 

The recently refreshed philosophy describes the centre's key intended outcomes for children. The parents want their children to have and show the attributes of:

  • manaakitanga
  • aroha
  • te reo
  • whanaungatanga.

A next step for the educator and parents is to further unpack what the philosophy means in practice and align it with their local curriculum priorities.

Children play and learn in spacious, interesting and well-resourced learning environments. They and their parents show a sense of belonging to the playcentre. The parents are closely involved in their own and other children's play. They extend children's play ideas and have meaningful conversations that encourage children to develop their language and thinking skills.

Tuakana-teina relationships are fostered as children of mixed ages play together. Children of all ages have their learning extended by the wide range of experiences provided in the centre and through many excursions into the local community. There are many suitable resources and activities that are provided especially to stimulate the learning of infants and toddlers.

The educator and parents show a high commitment to a child-led programme. Children are empowered to make choices about their learning and know that their views are valued. 

A developing strength is the bicultural programme. The lead educator role models te reo Māori and is exposing children to te ao Māori. She is supporting the parents to gain confidence in this area.

The lead educator has introduced useful systems for planning, assessment and evaluation. The planning is visible to parents and there are many prompts and supports to help parents gain confidence with planning and using the early childhood curriculum - Te Whāriki. The session evaluations are an effective way to record children's key interests and learning of the day. These evaluations could be extended by making clearer the intended learning within the planned activities. This will help parents identify some of the strategies they can use to help the children in their learning.

The educator is the leader for professional development. She is building her own capability in undertaking in-depth internal evaluation. In time she needs to share this knowledge so that other parents can contribute and keep internal evaluation manageable for the playcentre context.

The strategic plan clearly identifies centre priorities, including those relating to implementing their localised curriculum, and becoming a fully parent-led centre. It is important that the parents regularly monitor their progress towards achieving these goals. The parents work well as a parent collective and there are good systems for ensuring the smooth operation of the playcentre. 

At the time of this review the OPA was implementing the New Zealand Playcentre Federation's new operating model, and was amalgamating with Southland and South Canterbury Playcentre Associations to become the South Island Southern Region. While the changes resulted in some disruption to the services provided to individual playcentres in 2017, the OPA is effectively managing the restructure with the resources available to them. Each playcentre now receives regular support from a paid administrator and a centre support worker. There are robust systems in the association for monitoring the progress and performance of individual playcentres and targeted support is given when needed.

Key Next Steps

The key next steps for the parents, with the support of the centre support worker, are to:

  • extend the philosophy to show what it means in practice and align it to local curriculum priorities
  • make clear in session evaluations, learning plans for the next session and the strategies parents could use to support the learning
  • implement the strategic goal of parent-led sessions. 

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Balclutha 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 Balclutha Playcentre will be in three years.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

18 May 2018 

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: 12

Girls:   7

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers


Educator led and parents with Playcentre qualifications

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

18 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2014

Education Review

May 2011

Education Review

March 2008

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.