Lower Waitaki Playcentre - 17/10/2017

1 Evaluation of Lower Waitaki Playcentre

How well placed is Lower Waitaki 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 Waitaki Playcentre is a rural playcentre licensed for 25 children. It provides four morning sessions each week for children up to school age. Many families are farming and this work leads to some changes in attendance and participation at certain times of the year. Many of the children attend with a nanny or au pair. The sessions are led by a supervision team with playcentre qualifications. A parent council has oversight for the day-to-day management and operation of the service.

Lower Waitaki playcentre is one of 25 within the Otago Playcentre Association (OPA). The Association consists of a core group of dedicated paid and elected members. To support members it provides a framework for management and operations, parent education programmes and personnel.

The OPA is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Association (NZPF) to reduce duplication and make cost savings. The restructure is resulting in significant changes at an association level.

The 2012 ERO report identified planning, assessment and evaluation, and internal evaluation as next steps for improvement. Some progress has been made, however, with changes to the parent group and supervision team these remain next steps to develop.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentre reviews in the Otago Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

The supervision team and parents actively encourage children to develop a strong sense of belonging. This contributes to positive outcomes for children. The playcentre plays an important role in helping children and families develop friendships and find support within the local community. Children benefit from the positive relationships with the local school and there are regular mutual visits to support children's transitions.

The supervision team and parents provide a well-designed programme that reflects aspects of children's home lives. They make good use of the local community to support children's learning. Children have choices, follow their interests and have many opportunities for:

  • developing communication and social skills

  • active exploration and physical development

  • learning self-help skills and independence

  • learning about the creative arts.

Children experience aspects of a bicultural curriculum, including hearing and using some te reo Māori, waiata and karakia. The supervision team and centre advisor have identified this as an area for ongoing development, and ERO agrees this work needs to continue.

Infants and toddlers are well supported in the programme by their parents and other adults. They play and learn alongside their older friends and there are suitable resources and experiences available to them.

The playcentre parents have identified that the centre philosophy has not been reviewed for some time. It is now timely to redevelop the playcentre philosophy to reflect the current parents' shared values and beliefs, commitment to te tiriti o Waitangi and desired outcomes for children.

Systems for planning, assessment and evaluation for individuals and groups of children need to be strengthened. When planning for groups and individual children, adults must:

  • more actively involve all parents in using the assessment and planning information for individual children to guide interactions and experiences

  • show how they value and respond to children's language, culture and identity

  • more closely align the strategies and experiences to support the identified learning

  • ensure that learning stories consistently reflect progress in children's learning

  • show how the strategies and experiences have supported learning.

The supervision team and parents do not have a good understanding of robust internal evaluation practices. The OPA and centre advisor need to support the supervision team and parents to develop effective internal evaluation practices. The schedule of review of playcentre operations needs strengthening. Adults in the playcentre should ensure their practice is guided by the most recent OPA policies and procedures.

There are high levels of parent involvement in the day-to-day programme and life of the playcentre. The parent council is responsive to community needs, focuses on roll growth and ongoing sustainability.

The playcentre benefits from ongoing support from the OPA. Centre advisors use effective internal evaluation to monitor how well centres are promoting positive outcomes for children. They identify the strengths and areas for support for each playcentre and report to the OPA. The OPA ensures that decisions made further support the playcentre. Regular appraisals are carried out, however the appraisal process needs to be further developed to be effective. The OPA is achieving its strategic goal to increase the numbers of parents who participate in playcentre training to ensure ongoing sustainability. The OPA regularly monitors progress towards the strategic goals and evaluates the effectiveness of strategies.

Key Next Steps

The playcentre supervisors and parents with the support of the OPA need to:

  • review the playcentre philosophy and include their desired outcomes for children

  • further develop planning and assessment processes

  • strengthen bicultural practices

  • develop their understanding and use of effective internal evaluation practices.

The key next step for the OPA is to ensure:

  • the appraisal system continues to be developed and embedded.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

To improve current practice, the OPA should ensure playcentre members use the most recent OPA policies and procedures to guide their practice.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

17 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

25 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 20

Girls: 18

Ethnic composition



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

June 2017

Date of this report

17 October 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

December 2012

Education Review

August 2009

Education Review

December 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.