Cambridge Playcentre - 08/10/2015

1 Evaluation of Cambridge Playcentre

How well placed is Cambridge 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.


Cambridge Playcentre is located in Cambridge and caters for children from birth to school age. It is licensed to provide education and care for 30 children, including up to 17 children under two years of age at any one time. At the time of this ERO review, the roll of 34, included two children of Māori descent. The centre currently operates three general sessions a week that children attend with their parents, and two supervised sessions that older children may attend without their parents. The centre also hosts an initiative to support mothers and babies, Supporting Parents Alongside Children’s Education (SPACE), for four afternoon sessions a week.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation and the Waikato Playcentre Association (WPA) continue to provide effective governance and strategic direction for the centre. Members also benefit from the ongoing guidance and support of centre support workers, and adult education courses. This support and training is underpinned by the association’s philosophy ‘Whānau tupu ngātahi - families growing together’. The association’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is evident in its bicultural leadership model, support for Māori whānau, and funding to support members to include te reo and tikanga Māori in learning programmes.

As recommended in the 2012 ERO report, members have reviewed the centre philosophy and introduced monitoring of self review. They have also streamlined systems for documenting, sharing and planning for individual children’s learning and interests. Since 2012 members have also upgraded centre facilities and doubled the number of sessions held at the centre for babies and older children.

All centre members are actively involved in playcentre training and course work. Many members have completed advanced levels of playcentre training, and many others have teaching qualifications. The centre employs three experienced playcentre persons. One provides focused support at the general session that ERO observed. The other two each supervise one of the two sessions for older children.

The centre’s philosophy is ‘Families and children creating a community, while learning together through play in a safe, positive, supportive and stimulating environment’. Members aim to foster children’s sense of belonging through fostering strong relationships, supporting child-led play, and encouraging kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of centre resources.

This review was part of a cluster of six playcentre reviews in the Waikato Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children are capable and confident learners. They demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and enjoy trusting relationships with a variety of adults. Children initiate play, independently access equipment of their choice, and play well with and alongside one another. Older children support and involve younger children in their play. Children are also developing an appreciation of te reo and tikanga Māori.

Centre members provide high quality support for learning. They work closely with children to extend thinking and oral language skills, and to sustain their engagement in play. Members make good use of questions to stimulate investigation, problem solve and promote co-operative play. Members interactions with very young children are particularly gentle and caring. They skilfully interpret toddlers’ language, cues and gestures and respond appropriately to their needs.

The curriculum is highly responsive to children’s emerging interests and ideas, and parents’ aspirations for their children. Adults skilfully support children to explore their own ideas through imaginative play and incorporate literacy, mathematical and science concepts in meaningful ways. Children have frequent opportunities to explore textures and to express themselves creatively through music and art. Families enjoy regular excursions to explore and learn about the local community and environment.

Sound planning, assessment and evaluation practices include:

  • acceptance of children’s comments and ideas
  • members regularly writing learning stories for their own and other members’ children
  • progression of individual children’s learning over time
  • daily planning according to children’s individual emerging interests
  • increasing use of digital technology.

Centre leaders have worked collaboratively and effectively to address the areas identified in the 2012 ERO report. There is a strong emphasis on identifying emerging leaders and building membership capability. Members have established a family-like culture of pastoral care, professional discussion, and a commitment to positive outcomes for children. They use ongoing reflections and self review to establish and maintain high quality teaching and learning practices. Members value ongoing parent education and support provided by the WPA.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre representatives agree that next steps for centre members are to:

  • maintain high levels of member participation in playcentre education and training
  • build members’ confidence and competence in incorporating te reo Māori within the programme

further enhance the use of displays and areas of play to support literacy learning.

In addition, at WPA level there is a need to review and strengthen:

  • CSW reports that are linked to licensing criteria and strategic aims of this centre
  • the appraisal system for paid supervisors that includes a clear job description and specific feedback aligned to expectations for teaching and learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

8 October 2015

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 17 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 20

Girls 14

Ethnic composition



Other European






Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

8 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2012


Education Review

October 2009


Education Review

October 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.