Lower Waitaki Playcentre - 18/12/2012

1 Evaluation of the Service

How well placed is the service to promote positive outcomes for children?

Lower Waitaki Playcentre is very well placed to promote positive outcomes for children.


The Lower Waitaki Playcentre is a rural playcentre and is one of four playcentres in the Oamaru region. These four centres have close and supportive links with each other. The Lower Waitaki Playcentre has long been a focal point in the community. Many families are farming and this leads to some changes in attendance and participation at certain times of the year. The playcentre is open for three mornings a week and most children attend all three sessions in good numbers. The sessions are led by parent educators. The parents and educators have made good progress in addressing the recommendations from the August 2009 ERO report.

This review was conducted as part of a cluster approach to reviews in fifteen early childhood education services within the Otago Playcentre Association (OPA) umbrella organisation.

The Review Findings

A feature of this centre is the way in which many of the children have strong relationships with each other. They play well together, share their ideas and have fun. Children benefit from very warm and trusting relationships with the adults in the centre. They confidently approach adults for help and know that they will be responded to. Babies are confident in the environment. There is a good awareness of the needs and requirements of infants and toddlers in a mixed-aged setting.

The environment and resources reflect the farming backgrounds of the families that attend. For example, children play with John Deere and Massey Fergusson tractors. The centre has established very good relationships with the local schools and they regularly visit each other.

Other aspects of the programme that support children’s learning include:

  • a wide range of experiences including early literacy
  • a range of good quality resources to choose from
  • planned experiences, including trips and outings into the wider community
  • routines such as kai time, when children share waiata, use te reo Māori, and reflect on their day at playcentre.

The parent educators are aware of and support well children with diverse needs. The centre has effective systems for gathering parents’ goals and aspirations for their children’s learning. The children’s profile books are attractive records of their play and learning at the centre. The parent educators plan a focus each term for children’s learning, for example, children developing helpfulness and confidence.

The next steps for the parents and educators are to:

  • more actively involve all parents in using the planning information for individual children to guide interactions and experiences
  • ensure that learning stories reflect the progress in children’s learning.

There are high levels of parent engagement and involvement in the programme and life of the centre. Many of the parents have specific roles and responsibilities. This has resulted in a good sense of ownership of the centre, and sharing of the workload. The parent educators work well together to ensure the smooth running of the programme. They provide good leadership in the delivery of the programme. Many of the parents are working through their playcentre training and there is an expectation that all parents will complete Course One.

Parents are developing an understanding and gaining confidence in using self review to improve aspects of their programme and practices. They agree that this is a work in progress.

2 Governance and Management

The (OPA) provides a comprehensive range of support to this and other playcentres. This includes:

  • developing an action plan for all centres to be relicensed with the 2008 Regulations
  • managing an association-wide system for all aspects of health, safety and compliance
  • ongoing support for employment processes
  • targeted support for playcentres requiring additional assistance
  • ongoing provision of playcentre training.

The OPA executive and personnel hold regular meetings with a specific focus on each centre. They discuss best ways to support individual centres. Records from these meetings could be more specific about what support is provided and the difference it has made.

A strength of the OPA is the ongoing support provided by the centre advisors. The centre advisors effectively support the parents and educators in developing their understanding of planning, assessment and self review.

Centre advisors should continue to build their knowledge and understanding of self review. They should use each centre's self review as evidence to assure the governors of the OPA how well the playcentre is promoting positive outcomes for children.

OPA personnel need to further develop their understanding of self review and use the findings of self review to assure themselves of the effectiveness of their strategic goals and all aspects of the OPA management and operations.

The OPA governors have a sound policy framework to support the playcentre.

3 Legal Requirements

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.

4 Next Review

When is ERO likely to review the early childhood service again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

18 December 2012

Information about the Early Childhood Service


Papakaio, North Otgao

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: 21

Girls: 14

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Review team on site

October 2012

Date of this report

18 December 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

August 2009

December 2005

August 2002

General Information about Early Childhood Reviews

About ERO Reviews

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the New Zealand government department that reviews schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

Review focus

ERO's education reviews in early childhood services focus on the factors that contribute to positive learning outcomes for children. ERO evaluates how well placed the service is to make and sustain improvements for the benefit of all children at the service. To reach these findings ERO considers:

  • 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 self review and partnerships with parents and whānau.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of service performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to the service.