Grey Valley Playcentre - 18/08/2016

1 Evaluation of Grey Valley Playcentre

How well placed is Grey Valley Playcentre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

There are a number of very new and positive developments at Grey Valley Playcentre. With the support of the Buller/Westland Playcentre Association, the playcentre needs to continue to develop, implement and embed these changes to remain well placed to promote positive outcomes for children.

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


Grey Valley Playcentre is a remote, rural playcentre in Ahaura, a small settlement north of Greymouth. It is located in a purpose-built facility within the grounds of Awahono School. Some families travel long distances to attend the two sessions provided each week.

The Playcentre found 2015 to be a challenging year. At a community meeting in March 2016, centre members expressed a determined commitment to keep the playcentre operating as a service for the families in the Grey Valley area. An experienced early childhood teacher with playcentre qualifications is supporting the playcentre as team leader while parents begin to be involved in the training programmes provided by the Buller Westland Playcentre Association.

Grey Valley Playcentre is one of nine playcentres within the Buller/Westland Playcentre Association. Three of these playcentres operate as certified playgroups. The association is made up of a very small group of dedicated paid and elected members. The association provides a framework for centre management and operations, as well as parent education programmes and personnel to support centre members.

The Buller/Westland Playcentre Association is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Federation to reduce duplication and make cost savings. This restructure will mean significant changes at the local association level. 

Some improvements were made as recommended in the 2012 ERO review, however these were not sustained due to significant family turnover in the playcentre. The team leader is now reintroducing systems for assessment, planning and self review and ensuring there are Māori perspectives within the programme. These initiatives are very new and there needs to be careful planning and monitoring of the centre's annual action plan to ensure these improvements are sustained.

This review was part of a cluster of five playcentre reviews in the Buller/Westland Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

The programme that the team leader and centre members provide for children is underpinned by the overarching philosophy of whānau and children learning together in an enjoyable and nurturing learning environment. The team leader and centre members are in the process of collaboratively developing a Grey Valley Playcentre philosophy that is up to date and relevant. It highlights what learning is valued and important, and outlines their commitment to providing high quality education for their children.

The team leader has a focus on building parents' understandings of policies and procedures so they can, in the future, provide a safe learning environment for children. She is empowering parents to take an active role in running the sessions. For example, she leads very purposeful pre-session discussions where the emphasis is on ideas to support learning for individual children and how to provide a safe, well-supervised programme. She encourages parents to contribute their ideas and share their skills and talents in the sessions.

The number of children and families attending the centre is growing. Parents are beginning to be involved in the adult-education programme. Parents are becoming more involved in assessing and planning for children's learning. These are new initiatives and need to be an ongoing focus to ensure they are sustained.

The team leader has led parents through an effective self-review (internal evaluation) process that has resulted in improvements for babies at the centre. There is now a safe and well-resourced area for babies within the centre. Centre members are more aware of how to provide appropriate programmes for very young children. It is important that guidelines are developed for self review that others in the centre can follow in the future.

Children play in spacious and inviting indoor and outdoor areas. The indoor area in particular is well set up with activity areas that provide children with a wide range of resources to use and play with. Attractive wall displays and stories show how the centre acknowledges the languages and cultures of the families who attend. They also show children involved in many interesting experiences. These include:

  • science and gardening
  • baking
  • early literacy
  • learning about how to keep safe.

Playcentre members are very clear about what they need to do in the short and long term. The playcentre has an annual action plan designed to ensure the smooth running of the playcentre.

This is a well-thought-out document, giving members clear direction for the year. It needs to be carefully implemented and monitored to help the centre sustain the good work underway. 

The Buller/Westland Playcentre Association has a strategic plan to help guide the association's work. This, along with each playcentre's annual action plan, should be more formally monitored. Currently the association provides a policy framework for all the playcentres. This will change as the playcentres merge under Playcentre Aotearoa next year. Some policies and procedures within the association need immediate development to give better guidance to playcentres. These include:

  • developing robust guidelines and procedures for internal evaluation (self review)
  • embedding the learning from recent Playcentre Federation professional  learning
  • developing clearer guidelines for assessment, planning and evaluation
  • ensuring each playcentre's philosophy includes its community's shared values, beliefs and desired outcomes for its children.

Key Next Steps

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation, the current Buller/Westland Playcentre Association, playcentre team leaders and parents need to:

  • continue to develop the Grey Valley Playcentre philosophy
  • embed assessment planning and evaluation practices
  • ensure all members have a shared understanding and are able to implement self review (internal evaluation)
  • increase and sustain the levels of parent involvement in the adult-education programme
  • find ways to monitor progress against the strategic and annual plans to show how well these are supporting and contributing to the Association's and the Playcentre Federation's vision and goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

18 August 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


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 6

Boys: 6

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

18 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2012

Education Review

March 2008

Education Review

May 2005

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.