Marsden Playcentre - 17/11/2017

1 Evaluation of Marsden Playcentre

How well placed is Marsden 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.


Marsden Playcentre serves families in the local rural and coastal community. It offers four mixed-age sessions per week for 30 children from birth to school age. Half of the children enrolled are Māori.

The Playcentre philosophy values parents/whānau as the first and best educators of their children. They take on roles and responsibilities that contribute to the running of the centre. This structure offers opportunities for emergent leadership.

Since the 2014 ERO review there has been significant growth in centre membership. Members have made good progress in the areas for development highlighted in the 2014 ERO report. These included self review, strategic planning and programme planning processes.

Marsden Playcentre is a member of the Ngā Kura mo te ako o Whangarei (Group 5) Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL).

The centre is part of the Northland Playcentre Association, which provides governance and management support for 31 Playcentres in Northland. The Association provides systems and adult education programmes to help members manage centres and support their children's learning. A centre support worker (CSW) regularly visits each centre. The Association also provides education support for five Playcentres in the Far North.

Playcentre Aotearoa is in the process of a national restructure. It is expected that a new regional manager and centre support personnel will be appointed towards the end of 2017.

This review was part of a cluster of 10 Playcentre reviews in the Northland Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children are happy and settled. Adults offer a wide range of experiences to engage children in play. Children easily access resources and make choices. They benefit from long periods of uninterrupted play and become increasingly independent. Adults' conversations with children enrich their vocabulary and support learning. Developing friendships are evident between adults and children.

Whānau include bicultural practices as a natural part of sessions. They have a deliberate approach to building on these practices with support from the Association kaiawhina and workshops.

The outdoor play area is spacious and offers good opportunities for children to engage in physically active play. Following a review of the use of natural materials in play, centre members have established raised garden beds and a new play area constructed mainly of logs. The indoor environment offers many opportunities for children to be creative and imaginative.

Programme planning occurs in the daybook where adults record children's interests and participation throughout each session. Adults continue to develop their knowledge of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Connections to the curriculum are evident in learning stories and in planning documentation.

Children's portfolios are becoming good records of their individual learning journeys. The purchase of an on-line assessment tool, and use of up-to-date technology are encouraging adults to produce learning stories for their children.

A core group of pro-active families leads the centre, with a focus on continual growth and improvement. This focus has had a positive impact on centre membership, inspiring parents/whānau to become involved in the running of the centre and the learning of their own and other children.

A strategic plan documents the vision of centre leaders and members. Progress towards achieving goals is recorded, and the plan is updated annually. A 'person responsible' is appointed to guide the centre's internal evaluation. Relevant topics are chosen for review, and a systematic process results in positive outcomes for children and families.

The centre support worker (CSW) is aware of the strengths and needs of the centre. Her support helps members to foster positive learning outcomes for children. The CSW provides good leadership to sustain improvement and growth. Centre members appreciate that the CSW is available to answer their questions and share information that adds to their collective knowledge.

The Association continues to provide a sound management framework to assist centre members to manage their centres. Emergent leadership is actively fostered to sustain the Association and centre viability. The governance board works collaboratively with and shares good information with centres as they respond to change, including the national restructure.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for centre members are to:

  • ensure the daybook is regularly completed to ensure continuity between sessions, allowing complexity to develop in children's play and thinking
  • implement a system of programme evaluation
  • continue to develop their knowledge of tikanga and use of te reo Māori.

To enhance practices in Northland Playcentres, the new regional manager and support personnel should assist centre members to:

  • build their knowledge of te ao Māori, increase their bicultural understandings and promote ongoing education success for Māori children, as Māori
  • document and evaluate progress towards strategic goals
  • strengthen internal evaluation to guide ongoing improvement.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Marsden 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 Marsden Playcentre will be in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

17 November 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


Ruakaka, Whangarei

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 12 Boys 11

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent led

Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

17 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2014

Education Review

April 2010

Education Review

February 2007

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.