Koutu Playcentre - 19/02/2019

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

Koutu Playcentre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Koutu Playcentre is a parent-led education and care service located in Rotorua. It caters for children from birth to school age and operates two mixed-age morning sessions per week. The current roll of 27 children includes nine who identify as Māori.

During 2018 the New Zealand Playcentre Federation transitioned from operating with 32 regional associations to become one national body with six regional offices. In the central North Island six associations have merged into a regional hub renamed Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region that now includes 95 playcentres over a large geographic area. During this transition there is some overlap between associations and the new national regional systems and processes. At Koutu Playcentre the president is supported by a committee of parent members. A centre administrator and centre support worker are provided by federation.

Through their national philosophy, the playcentre places emphasis on whānau tupu ngātahi – families growing together. They empower adults and children to play, work and grow together and value and affirm parents as first and best educators of their children.

Koutu Playcentre has a positive reporting history with ERO. Since the last ERO review in 2015, the playcentre has further developed internal evaluation and te reo and tikanga Māori practices.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentres in the Central North Island region.  

The Review Findings

Parents provide strong leadership and commitment to the philosophy of playcentre. Relationships are based on respect and trust. Parents take an active role in their children’s education and participate in early childhood education training through the playcentre. Good use is made of frameworks to support internal evaluation and all members have the opportunity to contribute to decision making. Parents take time to reflect on their practice and improve outcomes for children’s wellbeing and learning.

Children learn in a high-quality learning environment that provides them with rich curriculum experiences. Through their play they lead their own learning and have access to a variety of interesting and challenging activities. Parents and whānau have established an inclusive and welcoming environment. Strong responsive and reciprocal relationships are formed among families and children. These close relationships contribute to a positive environment for learning. Children have opportunities to socialise with others and many have established friendships with their peers. Children are well supported to be confident capable learners.

Internal evaluation has resulted in improved practices in the implementation of te reo and tikanga Māori. Parents intentionally use te reo phrases and implement tikanga Māori through waiata and karakia. Tuakana teina relationships are promoted in the mixed-age group setting. Children are developing an appreciation and understanding of te ao Māori.

Parents understand the importance of children learning through following their interests during play. Many have undertaken playcentre training courses. They involve themselves in children's play and have conversations that empower children to be creative and to use their imagination. Regular excursions to places of local historical significance enrich the curriculum. Children and their families experience a strong sense belonging at the playcentre.

Individual child assessment portfolios reflect a credit-based approach placing emphasis on children’s interests and strengths. These are revisited by children supporting them to view themselves as successful learners. Children with additional learning needs benefit from parents sharing individual education plans so all parents can support their learning. More experienced members support newer members by generously sharing their knowledge about dispositions and learning outcomes of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum.

The Playcentre Aotearoa overarching strategic plan, philosophy, vision and individual annual plans guide the playcentre direction. There is a focus on building capability through recently reviewed and improved parent education programmes. Regular communication and support between the Playcentre Aotearoa and regions through the restructure supporting business as usual. Existing policies and systems support centre operations until new systems developed by Playcentre Aotearoa are implemented.

Key Next Steps

Management should place priority on providing ongoing support for members to increase their knowledge of the early childhood curriculum Te Whariki and assessment and planning of children’s learning. Playcentre parents need to continue strengthening assessment practices to include a stronger focus on the learning outcomes of Te Whāriki.

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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services
Central Region

19 February 2019 

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                       14
Boys                      13

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

19 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2015

Education Review

December 2011

Education Review

August 2008

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.