Lower Hutt Playcentre - 18/05/2016

1 Evaluation of Lower Hutt Playcentre

How well placed is Lower Hutt 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.


Lower Hutt Playcentre is one of 17 centres administered by the Hutt Playcentre Association (the association).  The association is made up of elected volunteer representatives from its member centres. It provides the members at the Lower Hutt Playcentre with governance and management support. A kaitautoko, a centre support person is employed by the association to provide guidance.

The playcentre is licensed to operate five mixed-age sessions each week for a maximum of 27 children, including 15 up to two years of age. SPACE (Supporting Parents alongside Children's Education) sessions are provided on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.   

Curriculum planning and implementation is a shared responsibility. Each session is supported by a team of parent educators who hold playcentre training certificates. When necessary they employ a session support person with the level of training that meets legislative requirements for group supervision.

All centre members are involved in the adult education training programme provided by the association. The playcentre has maintained good membership since ERO's June 2013 report.

Lower Hutt Playcentre and the association have a positive reporting history with ERO. Effective practice, identified in the previous ERO report has been sustained.

This review was part of a cluster of eight in the Hutt Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

The philosophy is strongly evident in practice. A well-considered and supportive culture assists new members' transition into the centre. It promotes child-led play and celebrates children's uniqueness through language use when working with children.

Children participate enthusiastically in a varied range of planned and spontaneous learning experiences. Literacy, mathematics, science activities and concept learning are an integral part of the curriculum. 

Adults integrate te reo Māori throughout the sessions and children are familiar with these words and phrases. It is timely for members to consider a strategy and process to gather shared information from families who identify as Māori so that children experience educational success as Māori.

Bicultural practice is evident in the centre. Adults have identified a next step is to increase their understanding to engage with families from a range of ethnic groups.

Children’s interests are nurtured within the programme provided and learning is well supported by attentive parent educators.  Positive and inclusive practice promotes children’s social skills development, confidence and curiosity. Adults know the children well. Respectful relationships positively contribute to children’s sense of belonging.

Assessment, curriculum planning and evaluation practices are well developed and consistent. There is a good system to provide adults with useful information to be responsive to children’s interests, strengths and if required identified needs.  Individual learning profile books attractively celebrate children's progress, showing their developing skills, knowledge and attributes. Adults share the responsibility for writing stories for all children. These are readily accessible to children.

Healthy food options for children are promoted. The outdoor environment is well resourced to enable children to be challenged in physically active play.

The annual plan guides planned activities and provides an overview of the playcentre's operation to promote improvement.

Playcentre members have made good progress in their shared understanding and use of self review. A well-considered process is in place where the focus is relevant to reflect on aspects of the programme to make improvements. Spontaneous review is well understood and regularly undertaken. A next step is for members to focus on evaluating how well practices improve children's learning.

The association is an improvement focused organisation committed to providing timely and relevant support for its member centres. The June 2013 ERO reviews found the support provided at the centre level by kaitautoko was appreciated and supportive. ERO also recognised that formalising this arrangement to promote a more effective approach for responding to the needs of individual centres was a next step for development. An evaluation of the effectiveness of changes to kaitautoko practice in improving outcomes for centre members and children is planned for.

Key Next Steps

Lower Hutt playcentre members should:

  • continue to develop internal evaluation practices
  • continue to explore ways to support educational success for Māori children
  • increase their understanding of engaging with families from a range of ethnic groups. 

The association:

  • must implement rigorous annual appraisal for the kaitautoko and identify professional development to support them in their leadership roles
  • should build kaitautoko knowledge and capability to undertake effective internal evaluation. This should include a focus on providing centre members with evaluative feedback that assists them to further develop aspects of the curriculum and centre practice.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Lower Hutt 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.

Action for compliance

ERO identified an area of non-compliance relating to governance and management practices. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following area:

  • fully implement a system of regular appraisal. 

[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA7] 

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

18 May 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 


Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

27 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 43, Girls 36

Ethnic composition



Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

18 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2013

Supplementary Review

February 2011

Education Review

August 2009

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.