New Plymouth Playcentre - 07/02/2017

1 Evaluation of New Plymouth Playcentre

How well placed is New Plymouth 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.


New Plymouth Playcentre is one of 17 parent-led services under the umbrella of the Taranaki Playcentre Association (the association). A management team of elected volunteers oversees operation at governance level and provides the adult education programme, guidance and support for members.

The playcentre is licensed for up to 30 children, including 15 aged up to two years. Fifty one children are enrolled. Children of diverse cultures attend the centre. The centre opens for mixed-age sessions, five mornings and three afternoons a week. There are four afternoon SPACE (Supporting Parents Alongside Children's Education) programmes and one morning programme for children up to the age of two.

Centre supporters are employed by the association to regularly visit playcentres. Their role is to provide professional advice and feedback to strengthen practice and promote improvement. Responsibility for day-to-day operation is undertaken by centre-elected office holders. Parents share the duties associated with implementing the programme.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation is planning a significant restructure for 2017 that includes amalgamating all Playcentre Associations. Playcentres will become part of a regional hub, supported by a regional manager and support persons.

The association philosophy of parent-led education and child-initiated play alongside the principles and strands of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, guide and inform centre practices to generate positive changes for children.

The January 2014 ERO report identified that further professional learning and development to build self-review capability and strengthen assessment and evaluation were useful next steps. Progress in these areas is evident.

The report also indicated that accessing external professional input should support the association to strengthen: annual and strategic planning; assessment, planning and evaluation; Māori success as Māori; teaching and learning understandings; regulatory requirements and self review.

Representatives from the centre have participated in the Taranaki Playcentre Association led internal review titled 'Strengthening Taranaki Playcentres'. The centre has proactive parent, family and community involvement.

This review was part of a cluster of eight playcentre reviews in the Taranaki Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children engage with enthusiasm in learning experiences grounded in the playcentre philosophy and Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Adults and children know each other well and have a strong sense of belonging.

The centre offers a wide range of learning activities and opportunities for all children's ages. Children follow their own rhythms as they decide, engage, and finish activities to their own satisfaction. The high adult-to-child ratio supports children's engagement and active exploration of their environment. Adults learn alongside children, contributing to sustained play and meaningful conversations.

The curriculum is informed and guided by children's strengths and needs. Children experience purposeful play incorporating literacy, mathematics, science, arts, creative expression and local community visits. Planning for learning is well led by an education officer.

Individual parent contributions clearly communicate their child's interests, strengths and goals. Parents also include strategies to achieve potential learning outcomes. Assessment, planning and evaluation is effectively led by the collective and well supported by the duty team's and parents' collaborative input.

Te ao Māori implementation is well reflected in the centre. Signposts include kupu Māori, artefacts, natural resources, books, puzzles, costumes and posters. Tikanga is woven through rituals involving karakia, waiata and local stories. Centre leaders are aware of the need for members to continue to build te ao Māori knowledge and understanding and te reo capability.

Portfolios are attractively presented. Te Whāriki principles, strands, goals dispositions and learning outcomes are evident. Assessment information includes adults' and children's contribution. These provide rich information about children's interests, progress, and needs over time. Members' deeper understandings of learning are documented and visible in children's patterns of play. Centre members should continue to include and promote children's culture, language and identity in planning and assessment.

Infants and toddlers are nurtured in a culture of care and fully participate in the programme. They are viewed as confident and competent learners who are able to participate fully across the centre. They cooperatively share space and are well supported by tuakana.

Professional development has informed a newly implemented centre transition process. Centre members attend regular meetings with a community of early childhood and primary teaching professionals. This is building collaborative understanding of playcentre and school curricula.

Members' understanding and use of internal evaluation has been supported by an association professional learning programme. Strengthening evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of practice, to inform decision making, is a next step.

The association Māori representative of Puriri Whakamaru o Taranaki, supports centre members to gain further understandings of te ao Māori. This is developing well as an integral part of the curriculum. Association and centre leaders should use strategic planning and internal evaluation to ensure the good practice occurring is sustained and continues to be built on.

The centre support person provides written reports that generally affirm environmental developments and programme practices. These reports should more deliberately focus on outcomes for children and next steps for centre members to improve teaching and learning. This should include a focus on providing centre members with evaluative feedback that assists them to sustain and further enhance the good practice already occurring.

Appraisal for centre supporters requires strengthening. The process should include: more focused goals that build their capability; and more regular and targeted feedback and feed forward about practices that enhance outcomes for children and their families.

Key Next Steps

Centre members should continue to:

  • promote and include children's culture, language and identity in portfolios

  • develop knowledge and understanding of te ao Māori.

The association should:

  • improve appraisal for the centre support people to support individual needs and identify professional development to support them in their leadership roles

  • build centre support staff knowledge and capability to undertake effective internal evaluation. 

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

7 February 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


New Plymouth

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

Girls 27, Boys 26

Ethnic composition



Other ethnic groups




Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

7 February 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

January 2014

Education Review

November 2010

Education Review

February 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.