Maungatapere Playcentre - 21/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Maungatapere Playcentre

How well placed is Maungatapere 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.


Maungatapere Playcentre is a parent-led early childhood education service next to Maungatapere School, about 15 minutes from Whangarei. The centre provides three morning sessions each week for children from birth to school age and centre currently caters for 38 children from 27 families who live in the surrounding township and rural areas. Many of the families are relatively new to Playcentre.

The centre is part of the Northland Playcentre Association, which is managed by officers elected by centre members. The Association provides a framework for centre management and operations, as well as parent education programmes and personnel to support centre members in their management, educator and parenting roles.

Playcentre Aotearoa, the national organisation, is currently in the process of a comprehensive restructure. A regional hub will be established to provide governance, management and parent education support for Playcentres north of Auckland. While this will mean significant changes at the local level, it is expected that support for individual centres will be maintained or strengthened.

Maungatapere Playcentre members have recently developed a new mission statement. They aim to provide their community with an inclusive environment for adults and children to play, work, learn and grow together. The new statement and the programmes that centre members provide for children are underpinned by the overarching Playcentre philosophy and Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum.

ERO’s 2013 review emphasised the significance of whānau relationships and involvement in children’s learning, in a welcoming and inclusive environment. ERO suggested that centre members strengthen their self-review, and review the effectiveness of programme planning processes. The Association and centre leaders continue to support newer families to make progress in these areas.

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

The Review Findings

Friendly and caring relationships amongst families and a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere contribute to children’s sense of belonging and wellbeing at the centre. More experienced centre members provide good support for new families. There is a positive sense of community and connectedness.

The centre grounds are spacious and well resourced with a variety of creative materials and activities. This year, centre members have created an outdoor mud kitchen and clay pit to expand opportunities for children’s natural, imaginative and sensory play. They have also improved the layout of the indoor learning environment and ensured that there is appropriate space for babies’ learning.

Programmes for children offer many opportunities for physical challenge. Whānau promote positive attitudes to natural outdoor environments, physical activity and healthy food. Children explore freely, make choices about their play, and are closely supported by adults who know them well.

Playcentre’s ‘whānau tupu ngātahi’ philosophical approach is reflected in centre members’ commitment to incorporating bicultural practices in programmes for their children. There is strong in-centre leadership for this focus as well as support from an Association kaiawhina. Parents/whānau are becoming more confident to include te reo and waiata Māori incidentally in sessions. Te Roopu Whakaaro Kotahi is being re-established to support whānau Māori in the Association.

The centre is managed and led by a core group of enthusiastic parents/whānau who share a commitment to supporting local families and providing well for their children’s learning. Centre member families contribute a variety of skills and expertise to managing, maintaining and improving the centre, and to implementing programmes for children.

Parents/whānau use a day book to record what they notice about children’s play and emerging interests and to identify next steps to support learning. They have a variety of useful ways of recording individual children’s learning and involvement in programme activities. Some individual children’s portfolios tell the story of their learning and developing personalities and characteristics very well. These can be used as a model for newer centre members to follow. As they increase their levels of training, parents/whānau report that the quality of support for children’s learning improves and the adults’ enjoyment of their roles as educators also increases.

Centre members have established useful informal and formal self-review processes that have helped them to make improvements for children. A positive feature of this group is their frequent consideration of ways to refine their practices. Through this review and development, systems and practices become more useful and manageable for the parent group and learning experiences for children can be enhanced.

The Northland Playcentre Association supports the centres well. The board of management communicates effectively and has responded positively to the need for flexible options in the parent education programme. Centre support workers tailor their support hours and focus to match centre needs. They are keen to further enhance the effectiveness of their centre visits. The Association has embraced the imminent restructuring of the national Playcentre body and is preparing centres well for the impending changes.

Key Next Steps

Next steps for building on long-established foundations and recent positive developments, include continuing to:

  • improve connections between what parents notice about children’s play, planning for their next steps and extending learning

  • encourage whānau to share understandings about and support for all children’s learning and developing independence

  • strengthen self-review, as well as strategic and annual planning, to support ongoing development in the quality of programmes for children.


ERO recommends that the Association and or the new regional manager and officers consider ways to strengthen the formative and evaluative nature of centre support workers’ visits and reports in order to:

  • provide greater assurance about the quality of support for children’s learning

  • establish the effectiveness and impact of the personnel who are employed to support centres

  • ensure that self-review processes provide clear guidance for centre office holders and support the continuity and sustainability of centre operations

  • provide targeted support for centre members to establish effective strategic and annual planning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

21 June 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


Maungatapere, Northland

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 23 Girls 15

Ethnic composition







Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

21 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

June 2013

Education Review

November 2009

Education Review

March 2006

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.