Matamata Playcentre - 16/09/2013

1 Evaluation of Matamata Playcentre

How well placed is Matamata 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.


Matamata Playcentre is a family cooperative, early childhood education service where parents and children learn alongside one another. The centre is located in the township of Matamata and provides sessional education and care for children from birth to school age. The centre operates under the umbrella of the East Waikato Playcentre Association (EWPA) and provides four mixed-age group morning sessions per week. A paid supervisor is employed for three sessions and a fourth session is parent led.

Since the previous ERO review in June 2010 centre members have responded positively to the areas for development identified in the report. They have made significant improvements to the under-two play and sleep room areas, and improved the quality and consistency of how they document individual children’s learning. The size of the indoor play area has increased by enclosing the verandah to enable children to explore carpentry and creative play in all weathers.

The centre is licensed for 30 children including up to 15 under two years old. The current roll is 39 with 16 being under two.

The centre philosophy aims to provide a safe and stimulating environment where adults and children learn together and the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa/New Zealand is valued. There is an emphasis on child-initiated play with parents supporting and extending children’s interests. Parents have made a commitment to further their own knowledge and learning, and a high proportion of members have completed playcentre qualifications. The centre benefits from the advice, guidance and role modelling of two Māori members, who strengthen and build the knowledge and understanding of Māori cultural values in other members.

Children learn and play in a well-presented and well-equipped centre, surrounded by a spacious, natural outdoor environment.

This review was part of a cluster of 10 playcentre reviews in the East Waikato Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Centre leaders and members embrace the playcentre philosophy that is highly evident and effective in promoting positive outcomes for children and their families. Parents have established a warm and vibrant culture of learning that includes all families. A planned approach to self review, annual planning and goal setting has led to significant improvements in the centre environment and aspects of programme planning.

High priority is given to fostering emergent leadership and involving parents as learners. Centre members have clearly defined and shared roles and responsibilities, and there are good levels of qualifications and enthusiasm for ongoing professional learning and development. Experienced parents model good practice and mentor members who are developing their understanding of the playcentre philosophy. Parents frequently reflect on their children’s learning together, share ideas and use their strengths to enhance outcomes for children in their care.

Adults work alongside children to promote and foster their confidence, learning, and a love of reading and early literacy skills. A knowledgeable and experienced supervisor guides centre planning and has brought greater consistency to the programme across the sessions. Parents use open questions and rich vocabulary to support children to develop their thinking and problem solving skills. Inclusive practices, based on genuine attitudes of caring and acceptance, benefit children and their families, particularly those with diverse needs.

Aspects of Māori culture are reflected in the programme and environment. During the review children and families celebrated Matariki by harvesting, preparing and sharing food together. The emphasis on a family cooperative is also in keeping with the Māori concept of whanaungatanga. Centre members and ERO agree that there is a need to further develop the confidence and competence of the supervisor and parents in using and integrating te reo Māori into the programme.

Children demonstrate leadership and confidence in initiating learning and play. A feature of the centre is the spacious and aesthetically presented indoor and outdoor environment. Children explore, investigate and use a wide variety of high-quality equipment and materials to extend their play. Babies and toddlers actively explore and investigate in thoughtfully designed, safe and secure surroundings. They receive affection and nurture from the adults and children around them. Breastfeeding mothers can choose from several comfortable environments in attending to their baby’s needs. Older children have the opportunity to learn and play positively with their friends in a mixed-age group setting. Celebrations, trips and milestones are woven into the programme throughout the year. Transitions into the centre and when children move on to school are well planned, and contribute to a calm and settled atmosphere. Attractive portfolios provide a record of children’s progress and learning, and are readily accessible for children to share and revisit learning with others.

The association provides support and guidance when requested, and implemented sound appointment procedures when employing the centre’s supervisor. The association also provides policies and procedures that contribute to the effective operation of the service. However, the association is not currently able to provide playcentre adult education courses, making engagement in course work difficult for members to access.

Key Next Steps

The next steps for the association are to:

  • strengthen the appraisal of the supervisor to include clear indicators for quality practice within the context of playcentre education, regular feedback and guidance from a suitably experienced and knowledgeable appraiser, and relevant goals for professional learning and development
  • arrange or provide regular and accessible playcentre adult education courses
  • ensure centre members receive regular visits, guidance and advice from experienced and well-informed association personnel.

Centre leaders and ERO agree that a next step is to strengthen self review by:

  • making effective use of Ministry of Education guidelines
  • identifying review outcomes and developing next steps for implementation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

16 September 2013

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


Matamata, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 24

Girls 15

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Review team on site

June 2013

Date of this report

16 September 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2010


Education Review

June 2007


Education Review

June 2004

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.