Children's Play and Recreation Centre - 04/05/2016

1 Evaluation of Children's Play and Recreation Centre

How well placed is Children's Play and Recreation Centre to contribute to children’s learning and promote their wellbeing?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

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


The Children's Play and Recreation Centre is a licensed early childhood service for children in Dunedin Hospital. Its overall aim is to provide a safe and secure learning environment for children while they are in hospital. The playroom itself is open to children and parents 24 hours a day.

Two long-serving Hospital Play Specialists (HPS) staff the service during the week. Additional staff run the service at the weekends. All staff are registered early childhood teachers. They are experienced in the HPS role but are yet to achieve formal HPS qualifications. The HPS work with children and their families on the wards and in the playroom. They work closely with the health professionals within the hospital. The HPS service is part of the Women's and Children's Health service of Dunedin Hospital, Southern District Health Board (SDHB), and is well supported by hospital managers.

Since the 2012 ERO report, the service has moved to the new children's ward. There is a newly designed playroom with an outside play space. In addition, the specialised Snoezelen Room provides a range of beneficial sensory experiences for children and adults.

Some of the recommendations from the 2012 ERO report remain key recommendations in this review.

The Review Findings

The HPS play a key role in helping children and their families have a smooth journey through their hospital experience. The HPS quickly make connections with families in order to put them at ease as much as possible and listen to their concerns. They find out how best to respond to the different interests and needs of the children.

The playroom offers a safe place for children and their families to play and spend time together. The HPS create a normal and enjoyable play environment by providing a wide range of familiar toys and activities for children of different ages. They make connections with children's home life, interests, and other early childhood settings and ensure children do not undergo medical procedures in the playroom.

The HPS have a range of useful strategies to reduce the stress and strangeness of children's hospital experience. For example, they get children to handle the medical equipment they will meet. Children and their families benefit from the way the HPS respond quickly to events and circumstances as they arise. Each day the HPS prioritise the children most in need of their services.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the service has placed a greater emphasis on including Māori perspectives, tikanga and te reo Māori in the programme. The HPS could now explore how to bring kaupapa Māori concepts more meaningfully into the programme.

The HPS have developed a philosophy to guide their work. The service goals and philosophy statement are stated mostly in general terms. The philosophy needs to provide stronger guidance for the HPS work. It should clearly outline the desired outcomes for children and the purposes of the HPS role within this very specialised service. It would then help guide the HPS in their work and how they document the difference they make for children's learning and wellbeing. It will also help them evaluate how well the programmes and practices are meeting the desired outcomes.

The HPS plan for and record the interventions and the experiences that they provide for children. They plan for the playroom activities, provide portfolios for children with long or frequent stays in hospital, and contribute to the children's clinical notes. The HPS now need to find ways to make their role in supporting children clearer and more visible through the documentation. They are already working on how to do this through the clinical notes.

The HPS are valued members of a multi-disciplinary team. Hospital managers have identified that they want better recognition within the hospital of the HPS role and expertise.

The HPS have links with the HPS service in Southland and through the HPS Association. Stronger links would help to support their professional practice. The SDHB has a useful appraisal model. The HPS in Dunedin and Southland are adapting it for their service. The model would be improved by including written feedback after observations, by linking the HPS competencies to the Education Council requirements for teachers and by including Tātaiako, the cultural competences for teachers of Māori learners. The appraisal goals for HPS need to be more challenging.

The hospital managers are well placed to support the HPS as they further develop their role. The managers are clear about the purpose and value of the HPS service and understand how it contributes to the wider SDHB vision. The managers and HPS should now clearly identify and monitor the implementation of long-term goals for the HPS service. For example, they could consider making it a priority that all staff attain a recognised HPS qualification.

A key next step for this service is to improve understanding and practice of internal evaluation. Internal evaluation should include all aspects of the service and progress towards the service's vision and goals. The SDHB has systems in place for internal evaluation and improvement. The HPS and managers could explore how these systems could be used in the HPS service.

Key Next Steps

The managers, HPS and ERO agree that key next steps are to:

  • clarify and clearly document the vision, philosophy and purposes of the HPS service and the valued outcomes for children

  • develop long-term goals to support the vision and purposes, and monitor the steps for achieving them

  • align systems such as appraisal, professional learning and development, and internal evaluation to the identified goals

  • improve the understanding and practice of internal evaluation so it supports ongoing improvement.

The HPS also need to strengthen the way they plan, record and evaluate their contact with children and the experiences they provide to support children's learning and wellbeing.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Children's Play and Recreation Centre 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 Children's Play and Recreation Centre will be in three years.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

4 May 2016

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

Hospital Based Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

10 children, including up to 6 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition


Ethnic composition


Number of hospital play specialists in the service


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Over 2


Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

4 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

November 2012

Supplementary Review

May 2009

Education Review

April 2008

3 General Information about Hospital-based Service Reviews

ERO’s Evaluation Framework

ERO’s overarching question for a hospital-based service education review is ‘How well placed is this service to contribute to children’s learning and promote their wellbeing?’ 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 contribute to children’s learning and promote their wellbeing

Pou Ārahi– how leadership is enacted to contribute to children’s learning and promote their wellbeing

Mātauranga– whose knowledge is valued and how the curriculum is designed to contribute to children’s learning and promote their wellbeing

Tikanga whakaako– how approaches to teaching and learning respond to diversity, contribute to children’s learning and promote their wellbeing

Within these areas ERO considers the effectiveness ofarotake– self review and ofwhanaungatanga– 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 have an opportunity to benefit from quality early childhood education. ERO will report on how well each service responds to 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 the methodology for ERO reviews in Hospital-based Education and Care 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 contribute to children’s learning and promote their wellbeing. 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 contribute to children’s learning and wellbeing and are useful to the service.