Koutu Playcentre - 15/05/2015

1 Evaluation of Koutu Playcentre

How well placed is Koutu 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.


Koutu Playcentre is located in the western suburb of Koutu, Rotorua. The centre is licensed to provide sessional education and care for up to 30 children, including 16 children under two years old. At the time of this ERO review there were 30 children on the roll including six children identified as Māori.

Centre members have clear roles and responsibilities for managing centre operations. Currently, two members share the role of president. The centre employs a Hunga Manaaki to build adults’ and children’s knowledge of te ao Māori. There is a well-established culture of shared decision making, and a strong commitment to welcoming and supporting members from a diverse surrounding community.

Good progress has been made with the areas for development outlined in the 2011 ERO report related to building members’ understanding of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori practices, the provision of computer technologies for centre members, and ensuring interactions amongst adults and children are consistently positive. A significant improvement has been the addition of a spacious, covered veranda which enhances the environment for adults and children.

Members place priority on adults and children learning and growing together in an inclusive, safe and stimulating environment. Parents and whānau are valued as 'the first and best educators of their children' in keeping with playcentre philosophy.

The centre operates under the umbrella of Rotorua Playcentre Association, which acts as its governing body. The association strongly endorses playcentre philosophy, and aims to empower parents as they undertake leadership and management roles for the centre. The association employs staff to provide centre parents with guidance and support. The knowledgeable operations manager is readily available to assist with information, and an experienced centre support officer attends playcentre sessions and meetings to advise and mentor members. The association receives reports from the centre support officer and the centre, which provide assurance that compliance with licensing, health and safety and other operational requirements, are being met.

Playcentres offer a recognised adult education qualification, designed to assist parents to provide appropriate learning opportunities for their children. The association offers training towards this qualification for all members. In addition, the association recently provided professional development through a Ministry of Education contract. An experienced tutor assisted the association and its centres to use self review to promote and evaluate the organisation’s strategic goals.

Through its strategic plan, the association provides a framework for centres to set their development goals. These relate to their Te Tiriti o Waitangi commitment, the vibrancy of their communities of learning, their recognition in the wider community, and their sustainable future.

This review was part of a cluster of 6 centres in the Rotorua Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Koutu Playcentre is promoting positive learning outcomes for children supported by parents and whānau. Centre members provide a spacious, thoughtfully designed and well-maintained environment for children to explore and investigate. Children enjoy ready access to a wide range of high-quality equipment and materials arranged in 16 areas of play. They confidently articulate their successes and challenges in conversations with adults and their peers. A particular centre strength is the ongoing review of areas of play which has resulted in a consistently interesting and inviting environment for children. Infants, toddlers and young children confidently make choices and follow their interests alongside their peers and knowledgeable and responsive adults.

There is an emphasis on sustainability in the centre programme, which is increasing children’s awareness of the importance of cherishing the natural world. Centre members have enriched the programme by including regular opportunities for children to explore the wider community and benefit from experiencing the unique natural environment around them.

Centre members integrate early concepts of literacy and mathematics into the context of children’s play through conversations and meaningful activities. Children’s thinking and problem solving skills are extended as they explore and experiment with good quality equipment. Adults bring a wide variety of skills and knowledge to share and enrich the programme. Children are engaged in real-life work such as gardening, shopping, baking and caring for the centre environment. Members’ knowledge of the language, culture and identity of all children attending is enhanced as families and whānau enjoy sharing their cultures.

Transitions into the centre are well planned and contribute to a strong sense of belonging and wellbeing for families and children. Routines are flexible, support the development of social skills, and are responsive to children’s individual care needs. Members maintain ongoing positive relationships with local schools, and transition to school is well managed and supported.

Māori values and perspectives are highly valued and evident in the environment and programme. Some members are taking responsibility for learning te reo Māori, and integrating this meaningfully into the programme. The Hunga Manaaki skilfully integrates her knowledge and expertise of bicultural practice into the life of the centre and the context of play. A next step, for building on this good practice is for centre members to further explore local history and places of significance to Māori and to share this with children.

Members effectively plan, assess and evaluate children’s learning based on agreed themes and children’s identified interests. They share this information through many attractive and informative displays, regular meetings and conversations. This contributes to continuity of learning across all sessions. Individual portfolio books reflect the enthusiasm and respect that parents have for children’s learning, development and successes. The positive impact of playcentre training on improving assessment practices is clearly evident. Consideration should now be given to including a stronger focus on identifying the learning and dispositions of children. Making greater use of the Ministry of Education exemplars, tools and guidelines is likely to support this development.

Centre members are highly collaborative. They regularly update and implement appropriate policies to protect the privacy of children and their families. Each parent decides what information to display about their children.

Centre leaders and experienced members have well-developed strategies for fostering emergent leadership, encouraging potential, and building a strong and inclusive learning community.

Key Next Steps

The association has agreed that recognising and celebrating learning for both adults and children is an essential part of valuing the ‘playcentre experience’. Adding a goal to the association and centre strategic plans for identifying and building on programme successes would focus attention on the quality of learning opportunities and outcomes for children. To implement this goal, agreed indicators are needed to identify the effective teaching practices that build programme success. These should include interactions that foster children’s language development, and intentional teaching strategies to engage in, and extend, children’s learning. Consideration could be given to including a responsibility for identifying and modelling quality teaching interactions, and providing feedback, as part of centre support visits.

The association agrees that recognising and celebrating learning for both adults and children is an essential part of valuing the ‘playcentre experience’. Adding a goal to the association and centre strategic plans for identifying and building on programme successes would assist members to focus attention on the quality of learning opportunities and outcomes for children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Koutu 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.

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to:

  • maintaining the first aid kit to MOE requirements
    (PF28 Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008)
  • securing heavy objects
    (HS6 Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008)
  • installing gates that are designed to ensure children are not able to leave the premises.
    (PF13 Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008)

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Koutu Playcentre will be in three years.

Dale Bailey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 May 2015

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 16 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 18 Boys 12

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

15 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2011


Education Review

August 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.