Birkenhead Playcentre - 22/05/2019

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

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

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


Birkenhead Playcentre is a well-established centre that operates as a parent cooperative. The centre is open for four sessions per week and caters for children from birth to school age.

Centre practices are underpinned by the Playcentre philosophy of parents and children playing and learning together. Children are supported to be independent learners and parents are valued as first teachers. The centre's philosophy statement is underpinned by a strong commitment to biculturalism and child-led play.

The centre is part of the newly established Northern North Island Playcentre Region. Regional systems support centre members to manage their centres and to provide educational programmes for their children. Playcentre personnel also provide adult education programmes for parents/whānau to achieve Playcentre qualifications.

Centre leaders have continued to build on the strengths outlined in ERO’s 2014 report. Bicultural practices have been strengthened and the philosophy is under review to reflect this.

This review was part of a cluster of 12 reviews in the Northern North Island Playcentre region.

The Review Findings

Children are busy and purposefully engaged in self-selected activities. They play cooperatively with their peers and benefit from the mixed-age group. Centre members work alongside children supporting them to lead their own learning. They encourage children to make choices and try out new activities in an inclusive environment. Infants have a calm space to explore.

There is a strong sense of whanaungatanga in the centre. Children have very good social skills. Responsive, respectful relationships between parents/whānau and children contribute positively to children's wellbeing and sense of belonging. Displays of children's photos connect to homes and families. The multicultural backgrounds of children are valued and celebrated.

The centre's play-based learning programme is underpinned by the Playcentre philosophy and Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Centre members value child initiated play. Highly effective systems of planning, assessment and evaluation record how children's learning guides centre practices. A strength of the programme is the high level of children's contributions. LEAP (learning, evaluation and planning) meetings ensure that the curriculum is evaluated and extended to support continuity of learning. Children's portfolios clearly show each child's learning journey.

The 'Big Kids' group supports children to be independent and confident when they go to school. Their social, language and problem solving skills are a specific focus during these sessions. The spacious outdoor environment promotes very good opportunities for physical challenge, exploration, investigation and learning about the natural world. Early maths and science develops in the context of children's play.

Bicultural practices and a respect for te ao Māori are woven through the programme. Centre members naturally and confidently integrate te reo and waiata into daily practice. Good role models help members to build their confidence and capability. The centre is investigating the possibility of full immersion te reo sessions once a week.

Adults work collaboratively, communicating well with each other and responding to children's immediate needs. Their professional learning and development and changes to the environment have resulted in positive outcomes for children. Parents/whānau model good practice to guide children's play and social understandings.

Centre members are enthusiastic and articulate, and model the Playcentre philosophy. Sound leadership, high expectations and established practices contribute to the ongoing success of the centre. New members are well supported and emergent leadership is encouraged. Internal evaluation is reflective and responsive to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the centre. The centre's future focused strategic plan and goals guide the development of the service.

The regional structure is replacing individual Playcentre Associations. Newly appointed regional personnel are making good progress building on existing systems and establishing effective regional management structures for supporting centres. Centre support workers are guided by regional centre support coordinators. Systems are being developed for monitoring the quality of programmes for children, adult education levels, and health and safety requirement.

Key Next Steps

Centre members agree the next key steps are to continue:

  • identifying ways to build complexity in children's play through a greater use of open-ended questions.

  • using evaluative questions to refine internal evaluation.

The Northern North Island Playcentre regional manager (acting) and support personnel agree that key next steps include:

  • implementing and embedding the revised Playcentre adult education programme

  • establishing a framework to evaluate the effectiveness of centre support systems, roles and processes.

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.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

22 May 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


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 29 Girls 24

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
other ethnic groups


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

22 May 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2014

Education Review

November 2010

Education Review

August 2007

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.