Balfour Playcentre - 05/04/2017

1 Evaluation of Balfour Playcentre

How well placed is Balfour 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.


Balfour Playcentre is parent led and provides two morning sessions each week, for children up to school age. The building is situated on the Balfour School grounds.

Sessions are led by an experienced, paid educator with the help of members. Playcentre parents are gaining Playcentre qualifications by being involved in the adult-education training programme provided by the Southland Playcentre Association (SPA).

Southland Playcentre Association (SPA) is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF) to reduce duplication and make cost savings. This restructure will mean significant changes at the local association level. An interim board has been established at SPA to support playcentres through this transitional period.

The September 2013 report identified a number of areas that required strengthening. These included planning, bicultural practice, self review and strategic planning. Progress in these areas is evident.

This review was part of a cluster of 13 Playcentres in the Southland Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children demonstrate a strong sense of belonging. They are confident in their surroundings and in the knowledge that their needs will be responded to. Children benefit from a programme where they are supported to make choices, develop self-help skills and independence. Children are active explorers and confidently decide on their play.

Parents work alongside their own and other children following their interests and supporting them in their play and learning. Adults listen carefully to children. They allow them time to think and help them express their ideas. Children are encouraged to become confident and capable learners.

Older children and infants play alongside one another in a thoughtfully presented and well-resourced environment. 

The local community is used effectively to extend the curriculum and there is a strong connection with the local school. Opportunities and experiences are actively promoted for children to participate in school activities. This supports their natural and seamless transition to school.

Since the previous ERO report, members have participated in professional learning opportunities to strengthen their bicultural practice. Playcentre members are building their confidence in the use of te reo Māori. This is an area for ongoing development.

The supervision team has a purposeful discussion prior to the session beginning and at the end of each day. At this time there is a strong focus on children's learning and development, reflective of their agreed goals. The team give consideration to how they can further develop children's interests and add challenge to their learning.

A new approach has recently been developed to guide the assessment and planning process. Learning goals are collaboratively established and narratives are gathered. These reflect the goal in action and highlight the child's engagement in the programme. This information is then used well to inform the end-of-term review. Members have identified that the next step is to integrate this full cycle of assessment, planning and evaluation into individual children's portfolios.

Current self-review practice focuses on improving outcomes for children and families. Well planned and thoughtful consideration is being given to sustainability and future growth. Members should continue to strengthen their capability and understanding of internal evaluation to determine the effectiveness of their practices. 

A model of distributed leadership is practised. Maintainable systems and processes are being established to guide practice, using members' expertise.

The board has been proactive in developing processes to assist in the smooth transition for playcentres to work under the NZPF. Opportunities have been offered to playcentre members to engage with SPA to consider how they can best support services through the impending restructure.

The board has identified a number of systems and processes have lapsed and need improvement. Immediate attention is required to review policies that guide the appointments procedure and health and safety practices. The appraisal process has also lapsed or not been robustly implemented. These improvements are a priority to meet licensing criteria, and for monitoring the quality of centre practices.

More consistent, timely and evaluative reporting should be provided to the board to assure them that accountabilities are met and to better inform their decision making. 

Key Next Steps

The playcentre educator and members agree areas for strengthening include:

  • building their knowledge of review and internal evaluation.

Key next steps for the association are to:

  • review SPA policies,  giving priority to those related to appointments and health and safety practices
  • re-establish the appraisal process
  • facilitate the introduction of evaluative reporting to the board.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Balfour 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.

ERO also identified areas of non-compliance for the Southland Playcentre Association in relation to governance and management. To meet requirements the association needs to:

  • implement a system of regular appraisal.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA7]

To improve practice the Southland Playcentre Association should:

  • ensure policies and procedures for travel by a motor vehicle clearly specify the person responsible for excursion approvals, has verified all drivers have a current full New Zealand driver licence and each vehicle is registered and has a current warrant of fitness.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

5 April 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

30 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 7, Boys 6

Ethnic composition



Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

5 April 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

September 2013

Education Review

March 2010

Education Review

March 2006

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.