Methven Playcentre - 01/11/2016

1 Evaluation of Methven Playcentre

How well placed is Methven Playcentre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Methven Playcentre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children. 

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Methven Playcentre is located in a tourist town and farming community. It is well established and supported by the local community. The playcentre provides a family-like environment that supports children and adults to play, have fun and learn together. It provides four morning sessions a week for children from birth-to-school age. Parents stay and play alongside their children.

The sessions are led by two experienced, paid supervisors and playcentre members. All playcentre parents are gaining playcentre qualifications through an adult-education training programme provided by the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association.

Infants and toddlers are the immediate responsibility of their parent when attending playcentre. There is an area provided with some resources for this age group, however very young children freely explore all areas of the playcentre and join in the activities. The parents and supervisors have planning underway to further develop the outdoor area to be more interesting and accessible for infants and toddlers.

Methven Playcentre is one of seven playcentres in the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association. The association is made up of a group of dedicated paid and elected members. The association provides a framework for centre management and operations, as well as parent-education programmes and personnel to support centre members.

The Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Federation to reduce duplication and make cost savings. This restructure will mean significant changes at the local association level.

ERO's 2012 report for the Methven Playcentre noted a number of areas for review and development. These included strategic and annual planning, assessment and planning, and self review. ERO found good progress has been made in all these areas.

This review was part of a cluster of seven playcentre reviews in the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Methven Playcentre provides a warm and welcoming environment for parents and their children. New families are made to feel welcome. Children settle quickly on arrival, and confidently make choices about what they want to do.

Many children start attending the playcentre as babies, resulting in a strong sense of belonging in the centre. Parents work closely with their own and other children. They follow their lead in play and support them to develop their interests.

Children play and learn in well-resourced indoor and outdoor areas. The resources and experiences provided, such as toy tractors and farm sets, reflect the home lives of children. Important cultural events are regularly celebrated including Matariki and Fathers' Day. Positive aspects of the programme that support children's learning include opportunities for:

  • regular outings into the community and visitors to the playcentre

  • learning skills for turn taking and sharing through group experiences, such as baking

  • learning early mathematics and literacy concepts

  • open-ended exploration, science and creativity

  • developing leadership by helping adults with daily routines.

The supervisors and parents are taking meaningful steps to make Māori perspectives more evident in the programme and practices. Through internal evaluation, they have identified what they can do and should continue to work on this aspect.

The supervision team has a purposeful discussion before each session to set the direction for the day. After sessions they discuss what the children were interested in and what activities should be continued in the next session. These discussions and the written notes that are kept, need a greater focus on learning. The supervisors and parents have identified that the next step is to find better ways to plan for individual children and show how children's learning progresses over time.

The Methven Playcentre philosophy strongly reflects the shared values and beliefs of the parents and the unique locality of the playcentre. Centre documentation and conversations ERO had with parents showed that adults have clear ideas about what the desired learning outcomes are for their children. When the philosophy is next reviewed these desired learning outcomes should be included and then linked to aspects of planning and self review.

Leaders and parents have made good use of self review to make improvements to important aspects of the playcentre programme and practices. They could strengthen and refine self review by using evaluative questions and by developing and using relevant indicators (criteria showing what good practice looks like) at all the stages of the review. The useful annual plan identifies key priorities and guides their work.

Parents meet regularly to oversee the smooth running of the playcentre and monitor progress towards meeting their key priorities. They work well together in all aspects of decision making. They have made collaborative links with other early childhood services in the town and support other playcentres in the region.

The Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association responded well to the issues and trends emerging from the 2012 ERO review reports for each playcentre. The board is very supportive of the playcentres and provides additional support for playcentres in response to their needs. It should ensure it receives evaluative reporting on key aspects relating to centre support and supervisor support roles.

The board has a strategic plan with purposeful actions to help guide the association work. This should be more formally monitored. Board members meet regularly to discuss key aspects of the smooth running of the association. They are working proactively to assist the smooth transition through the New Zealand Playcentre Federation changes. The board has an expectation that each playcentre will have its own annual plan, however these are not always in place. The association appraisal system for the supervisors has been reinstated and needs to continue to be embedded.

Key next steps for the association are to:

  • monitor the board's annual plan and support all playcentres to prepare annual plans

  • ensure it receives evaluative reporting on key aspects of playcentres' operations.

Key Next Steps for Methven Playcentre

The playcentre supervisors and parents with the support of the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association, need to:

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

  • refine aspects of planning, assessment and evaluation and self review.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

1 November 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

20 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 22

Girls 20

Ethnic composition









Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates

Parent Led

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

1 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

June 2012

Education Review

March 2009

Education Review

September 2001

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.