Howick Playcentre - 27/10/2017

1 Evaluation of Howick Playcentre

How well placed is Howick 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.


Howick Playcentre is a parent-led early childhood education service and one of 14 centres in the Tamaki Playcentres Association. The centre provides five morning sessions each week for children up to school age, including one 'Big Kids' session for children over three years old. An afternoon SPACE programme for new parents and their babies has recently started. The centre currently caters for 31 children with another 15 attending the SPACE programme.

Programmes for children are underpinned by the overarching Playcentre philosophy of whānau and children learning together in a fun, nurturing environment. High levels of parent involvement in training enable them to be the kaiako (teachers) who guide the learning that children enjoy. The 'Big Kids' session is led by a paid kaiako.

The Association provides a framework for centre management and operations, as well as parent education programmes and personnel to support centre members in their leadership, educator and parenting roles. Te Kimiora o Tamaki, the Association support group for whānau Māori, provides members with advice and guidance regarding their bicultural practices.

Playcentre Aotearoa, the national organisation, is currently in the process of a comprehensive restructure. A regional hub will be established to provide governance, management and parent education support for Playcentres in central, east and south Auckland. While this will mean significant changes at the local Association level, it is expected that support for individual centres will be maintained or strengthened.

ERO’s 2014 review noted centre members’ collaborative approach to operating the centre and the quality of children's learning experiences. It also noted the positive relationships, and systems in place to document children's learning. Areas for further development included aspects of self-review, strategies for planning programmes and the use of te reo Māori in programmes. Good progress has been made in most of these areas.

This review was part of a cluster of three reviews in the Tamaki Playcentres Association.

The Review Findings

Howick Playcentre is enriched by a core group of experienced kaiako who willingly share their knowledge and encourage others. They warmly welcome and support new families including those with English as a second language or who have children with special needs. There is a strong focus on learning, and children show a relaxed sense of belonging and wellbeing in the centre.

Children are confident and engaged learners. They initiate their own play, working collaboratively with others or independently exploring their own interests. Well established friendships support children to develop good conversation skills and foster their imaginative play. Older children are learning to deepen their explorations through the 'Big Kids' session, which is also supporting their transition to school.

Infants and toddlers are well cared for and encouraged to investigate resources. Kaiako have identified the need to further develop provision for their youngest children to ensure the environment, resources and adult support are appropriate to provide learning challenges for these children.

Kaiako skilfully prompt children's learning. They respond to children's interests and plan resources and activities to promote further exploration. Adults engage children in meaningful conversations to challenge their thinking and extend their ideas. Kaiako evaluate each session collaboratively and record what they have noticed about children’s play, reflect on a current learning story and identify next steps to support children's learning. Individual portfolios provide extensive records of children's learning and development. Kaiako should now strengthen links between stories to more clearly record progress in learning.

Children enjoy a well-resourced and accessible learning environment. Well organised spaces and interesting equipment encourage children to make choices, and to play imaginatively. Recent and ongoing outdoor development is providing new physical challenges and invitations for children to explore. Further visibility of cultural diversity in the centre would acknowledge the increasingly diverse centre membership.

Parents/whānau have established and very good management and communication strategies to engage all families. They make decisions collectively at regular meetings and share responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the centre. A useful strategic plan guides the centre's development and is closely aligned to ongoing internal evaluation.

Centre members have enhanced their former self-review processes, which are now strategic and deep evaluations of centre operations and the curriculum for children. In this way parents/whānau are strengthening the effectiveness of their practices and becoming more critically aware of areas for further improvement.

The Association has worked diligently to prepare members and centres for the imminent structural changes to the national organisation. Leaders have implemented many strategies and systems to develop consistent, good quality practices across the centres. They have established cluster support groups to foster sustainability. The Association has provided positive guidance in relation to changes in Playcentre training programmes and pre-empted national changes to centre operations with paid administration support for every centre.

Leaders acknowledge the need to update some Association policies to incorporate the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act and recent changes in Health and Safety legislation. The Association is committed to promoting Te Whāriki 2017 in all centres and it continues to provide strong support for meaningful bicultural practices.

Key Next Steps

Centre members agree that key next steps to support centre progress and sustainability, include further:

  • developing the programme and assessment processes for infants

  • supporting children's transition to school

  • strengthening bicultural practices and the use of te reo Māori.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

27 October 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


Howick, Auckland

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 21 Boys 20

Ethnic composition

other Asian
other European


Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent led

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

27 October 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2014

Education Review

December 2010

Education Review

August 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.