Birkenhead Playcentre - 07/03/2014

1 Evaluation of Birkenhead Playcentre

How well placed is Birkenhead 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.


Birkenhead Playcentre is a well established centre that runs as a parent-cooperative. The centre practices are based on the playcentre philosophy of families learning and growing together. The playcentre is open for six sessions per week and caters for children from birth to school age. Since the 2010 ERO report the centre leaders, with association support, have continued to build practices to sustain the long-term operation of the centre.

The playcentre operates as part of the North Shore Playcentre Association. The association is the umbrella organisation for 21 centres situated in North Auckland. Many of these are semi-rural. The association manages and distributes funding to the centres and provides a training programme for parents/whānau to achieve playcentre qualifications. It also has good systems to support centre members to manage the centres and to provide educational programmes for children. The association is currently reviewing many aspects of its operations to help reduce the administrative workload for its members.

This review was part of a cluster of seven reviews in the North Shore Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Since the 2010 ERO report, members have continued to improve their capability to provide high quality learning outcomes for children. Qualification course levels have been significantly lifted, resulting in members having shared understandings about how to provide suitable programmes that support children’s learning in their early years.

Children are relaxed and learn at their own pace. They have opportunities to develop language skills and form constructive relationships with other children and with adults. They benefit socially and cognitively from playing in mixed-age groups. Members provide a positive child-focused learning environment. Adults work alongside children without taking over their play. They are available, as required, to engage in meaningful conversations and provide support as needed. Early mathematics and literacy skills are developing within the context of play.

Children’s learning and stages of development are fully considered and planned for. Planning is linked to Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and to assessment practices of noticing, recognising, responding and revisiting children’s learning. Children’s independence and self reliance is valued and promoted by members.

Self review is becoming more recognised and appreciated as a tool to record and track ongoing improvements in the centre. Members are reflective and responsive planners. They focus on raising the quality of centre operations and providing high quality environments to enrich children’s learning. Reviews are modelled on high quality practice indicators, research and detailed discussion. Reviews result in sound changes being made.

A bicultural partnership with Māori whānau is evident in association operations. The management team has a strong commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to building both adults’ and children’s familiarity with te reo and tikanga Māori. Birkenhead Playcentre has representation on the association roopu, Mahi Ngā Tahi o Puawai. It is incorporating celebrations, such as Matariki, and increasing the use of te reo Māori and tikanga in sessions. Relationships with the local marae are also being strengthened.

A ‘Big Kids’ group provides support for four year old children to get ready for school. Their social, language and problem-solving skills are a specific focus during these sessions. An information pack to help parents prepare their children for school is the most recent development. This contains many appropriate ideas that parents can use to help their children transition smoothly from playcentre into school. Graduation celebrations celebrate children’s learning while at playcentre and help to prepare them for life-long learning.

The association management team takes responsibility for specific tasks relating to the function of the association. Management team members are committed to and enthusiastic about their involvement in playcentre. They actively foster emergent leadership to help sustain the association and demonstrate the professional leadership necessary to help the association respond to change, make decisions and manage issues as they arise. The North Shore Playcentre Association provides effective support to help this playcentre remain very well placed to provide positive learning outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre members agree that members should continue to use self review to identify next steps for improvement, and that this could include developing an explicit centre-based philosophy to guide practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Birkenhead 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 Birkenhead Playcentre will be in four years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

7 March 2014

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


Birkenhead, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 22

Girls 22

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



NZ Chinese

NZ Indian







Review team on site

October 2013

Date of this report

7 March 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2010


Education Review

August 2007


Education Review

June 2004

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.