Helensville Playcentre - 16/11/2017

1 Evaluation of Helensville Playcentre

How well placed is Helensville 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.


Helensville Playcentre is a semi-rural parent cooperative. It offers two three-hour sessions each week for children from birth to school age in a mixed-aged group. A SPACE programme for parents of children under a year old also operates in the building once a week.

Parents/whānau are committed to the Playcentre philosophy, which is based on child initiated play in a mixed-age setting. Parents are valued as first and best educators of their children. All members take on roles and responsibilities that contribute to the smooth running of the centre. Centre members respond well to the opportunities for emergent leadership that this organisational framework offers.

Since the 2013 ERO review, centre members have made significant progress in operating as a cooperative team and in improving training levels. This progress has been supported by two support workers from the Association. The team has made changes to the building and the outdoor area of the centre. Many of the parents are involved in Playcentre training and willingly take on necessary roles within the centre.

The centre is part of the Te Akoranga Playcentre Association, which provides governance and management support for 11 centres in West Auckland. The Association provides adult education programmes to support parents/whānau to gain Playcentre qualifications that help them to manage their centres and support children's learning. Each centre is supported by Association personnel who monitor, support and contribute to centre management and operations.

Playcentre Aotearoa is in the process of a national restructure. A new regional manager has been appointed and centre support personnel will be appointed towards the end of 2017. The Association has placed an appropriate emphasis on supporting and strengthening individual centres, in preparation for the changes to come.

This review was part of a cluster of three reviews in the Te Akoranga Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Helensville Playcentre provides well for children and their families. Parents/whānau lead and manage the centre well. They work closely together and have created a friendly and supportive learning environment. Children and their parents/whānau are settled and children relate well to all adults in the centre.

Children up to two years of age are included well in the programme. Older children are respectful and careful around their younger peers. Children have access to a wide range of quality resources and materials to support their play. The environment is laid out in ways that invite children to make choices.

Children are highly engaged in their learning. At present the roll includes a high number of boys. Parents/whānau have selected a focus on science that is successfully challenging these children's thinking and experimentation. They also include literacy and mathematics in meaningful ways as children play.

The programme allows children to be successful. Adults respond to children's capabilities and growing skills and encourage them to see themselves as successful learners. More experienced centre members provide good models for newer members, particularly in the ways they engage children in meaningful conversations. This modelling is helping all parents/whānau to participate in children's play as supporters and encouragers and to add to children's vocabulary, knowledge and thinking.

Children have opportunities to hear and use te reo Māori. They sing karakia before food and respond positively to the incidental inclusion of te reo in conversations. Centre members understand the need to place a focus on including tikanga Māori in their practices. They have identified that they should also include some recognition and inclusion of the diverse cultures of families attending the centre.

Centre members are a capable group who have a good understanding of what they want for this centre. Knowledgeable parents/whānau record some good quality examples of assessment in children's portfolios. This helps programme planning to respond to children's interests and strengths. A comprehensive shared plan for the term is displayed and updated regularly. Association support personnel contribute to children's portfolios, modelling how links can be made to Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Some formalised evalaution supports informal review and promotes ongoing centre improvement.

Association support has a very positive impact in this centre. As it is some distance from other centres, the Association has ensured that training has been provided closer to home for these centre members and that meetings are sometimes held in their centre.

Te Akoranga Playcentre Association continues to provide a well organised, thoughtful management framework and appropriate policies, to help centre members to manage their centres. At present, the Association is using a well-considered plan to build centres' independence in their daily practice. This approach is balanced with providing additional administrative support that may be part of the new Playcentre Aotearoa framework.

Key Next Steps

Agreed next steps for centre members include:

  • building on the bicultural content in the programme

  • personalising portfolio entries and strengthening links to planning

  • using self-review more purposefully as a tool for improvement over time.

It would be useful for the new support personnel to more clearly record their conversations about suggested programme improvements, in their reports to centres.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

16 November 2017

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


Helensville, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 20 Girls 11

Ethnic composition

South East Asian


Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent Led

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

16 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

October 2013

Education Review

August 2010

Education Review

May 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 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.