Hamilton East Playcentre - 23/02/2016

1 Evaluation of Hamilton East Playcentre

How well placed is Hamilton East 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.


Hamilton East Playcentre is a well-established, parent cooperative, early childhood service located in Hamilton East. It is licensed for 30 children including up to 15 children under two years of age. The centre provides a mixed-age, child-led programme with a focus on exploring all 16 areas of play. There are well-maintained buildings, plentiful and high quality materials and equipment, and attractive natural surroundings.

Since the previous ERO review in 2012 there has been a significant increase in membership. There are now 32 children on the roll, including 2 children of Māori/Fijian descent. Centre sessions have increased to five morning sessions and one afternoon session each week. The ‘Supporting Families Alongside Children’s Education’ (SPACE) programme continues to regularly cater for infants and first-time parents. This initiative contributes to centre sustainability as many SPACE parents enrol in the playcentre as their children reach enrolment age.

Centre members have made good progress with the areas for development identified in the 2012 ERO report. These include documenting children’s learning and progress, programme planning, and transition to school. Upgrades to buildings and grounds have improved the learning environment for adults and children.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation and the Waikato Playcentre Association (WPA) continue to provide effective governance, strategic direction, management support and adult education programmes for the centre. This support and training is underpinned by the WPA philosophy 'Whānau tupu ngātahi - families growing together'.

All centre members are participating in different levels of playcentre training, with a number of parents attaining higher course certificates. Some members have other early childhood qualifications. This is promoting a sustainable, highly collaborative service for children and whānau. The centre philosophy aims to provide a stimulating whānau environment where parents and children are developing alongside each other. This philosophy is highly evident in the life of the playcentre.

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

The Review Findings

Hamilton East Playcentre is very well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children and their families and whānau.

Parents share a strong commitment to enact the vision and philosophy of families and children learning together. Experienced members provide strong mentoring and foster the emergent leadership of less experienced members. Parents expressed appreciation for the open and transparent discussion and consensual decision making they share together. This has led to a highly collaborative culture with a focus on nurturing a strong sense of community support amongst members and other playcentres.

Children explore and adventure in an interesting learning environment. Mature trees and natural spaces invite children to experience physical challenge and learn about Papatūānuku and the natural world. They confidently make choices, problem solve, take risks, and build their social skills as they work and play alongside their friends and supportive adults. Flexible routines allow for children’s learning interests and care needs to be met at appropriate times. There is a well-organised, homely and welcoming atmosphere that contributes to a strong sense of wellbeing and belonging for families. Families work in constructive partnerships with specialist agencies to achieve the best possible outcomes for children requiring support for identified needs.

Members meet regularly to plan and evaluate the programme with a focus on responding to the identified strengths and emerging interests of children. Children have many opportunities to learn about literacy and number in the context of their play. There is deepening understanding and knowledge of the roles of adults as first teachers of their children. Good teaching practices observed by ERO include:

  • consistent use of rich oral language in learning conversations with children
  • responsive, shared and nurturing care for babies and toddlers
  • extending learning with ongoing ideas from adults to sustain and enrich play
  • positive and respectful interactions amongst children and adults.

Individual assessment portfolios are attractively presented and regularly document aspects of children’s participation in the programme. There are clear guidelines and frameworks to support parents to make regular contributions to their own and other children’s portfolios. This approach contributes to consistency for all children, and reflects the growing levels of understanding and confidence that parents have about documenting children’s learning and development.

Māori tamariki and their whānau are affirmed in their culture and experience success as they learn together. Family cultural values and continuity of learning for children are maintained between home and centre. Te reo Māori is used in meaningful contexts. Some adults are confident to share mihimihi. Children learn appropriate waiata and enjoy times to share these together with adults.

Whānau members lead an annual hangi experience and celebration that includes a number of other playcentres and the wider community. Matua are important role models during these events. Children are learning holistically about tikanga Māori values through real life experiences such as visiting local marae and recognising Tainuitanga. Members should continue to build a repertoire of purakau and papakainga (stories and places of local significance to Māori) and integrate these into centre programmes and the visual environment.

The association’s strategic commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is clearly evident. The principle of productive partnerships with Māori underpins all WPA practice and operations, and funding is made available for related professional development. The high quality response to Ministry of Education expectations in Ka Hikitia has resulted in clear guidelines and a systematic and sequential approach to building members’ understanding, confidence and competence in te ao Maori.

An experienced centre support worker (CSW) was recently appointed and is providing valued guidance and knowledgeable support for centre members. A long-standing kaiawhina continues to support centre members to develop their understanding of te ao Māori and their confidence to integrate this knowledge in the context of playcentre philosophy.

Centre leaders make effective use of self review to continually develop and improve the centre. Members have an appropriate range of useful frameworks to guide this process. Examples of effective self review include:

  • well-planned transitions to school
  • employing a paid supervisor to raise the quality of sessions for adults and children
  • an experienced member taking responsibility to model teaching and planning practices for other members to enhance consistency across sessions for adults and children.

Centre members will continue to explore ways to build reciprocal understanding with their local schools about transition processes to promote positive outcomes for children, families and whānau.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

23 February 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 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 17 Boys 15

Ethnic composition









Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

23 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2012


Education Review

December 2009


Education Review

December 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.