Ngakuru Playcentre - 16/08/2018

1 Evaluation of Ngakuru Playcentre

How well placed is Ngakuru 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.


Ngakuru Playcentre is a parent-led service that provides education and care for children from birth to school age in a mixed-age setting. It is located adjacent to Ngakuru school in the rural community of Ngakuru, south of Rotorua. The centre is licensed to provide two funded, group-supervised sessions each week for 26 children, including 16 up to two years of age. At the time of this ERO review there were 21 children, including five of Māori descent, and a number of children from other nationalities.

During 2018 playcentres are transitioning from operating as The New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF) with 32 regional associations to a national organisation with six offices. In the central North Island eight associations have merged into a regional hub, renamed Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region (PACNIR). This region includes 95 playcentres spread over a large geographic area. During the organisation transition there is some overlap between the previous Rotorua association systems and new national approaches. At the time of this ERO review there is some uncertainty as new processes become established.

The new governance management structure consists of a regional manager and a centre support coordinator whose role is to access administrative and management support for the playcentre. A centre administrator has recently been appointed. A national professional learning and development team is in the early stages of planning for additional learning support to build members’ capability as first teachers of their children.

Centre members take shared responsibility for centre leadership, supported by experienced parents with appropriate playcentre qualifications. They embrace the NZPF philosophy and aim to provide children with opportunities to initiate their play alongside their parents as first teachers.

Ngakuru Playcentre has a positive ERO reporting history. The 2015 ERO report identified the need to strengthen self review, strategic and termly planning with the inclusion of assessment and planning. Centre members have made recent progress with these areas. There have been significant improvements to the building, and the addition of new resources.

There is a need for ongoing support from the PACNIR to strengthen parents' knowledge and understanding of effectively managing systems and processes.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentre reviews in the Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region.

The Review Findings

The curriculum is well designed to promote child-led learning and play. Parents prepare and present the indoor and outdoor environment with good quality and plentiful equipment in 16 areas of play. These are readily accessible for children to make choices, explore and experiment with in their play and learning.

The mixed-age setting enables older children to take leadership roles and younger children to learn from watching and playing alongside them. Children demonstrate high levels of social skills and have meaningful friendships with children from diverse cultures and age groups.

Transitions are well planned and managed at children’s own pace. This is particularly effective when new families join and when children move on to school. Routines are flexible to respond to individual children’s needs and enable them to persist in their play for sustained periods of time. Children’s early literacy and mathematical skills are developing and they make use of their knowledge in the context of their play and learning. Children demonstrate high levels of wellbeing and belonging.

Assessment and planning is well managed. Each child has individual plans that include documenting their interests, parent aspirations and learning stories. Parents maintain attractive individual portfolios for children that show their participation in the programme over time. Children from the Pacific Islands and other nationalities benefit from learning alongside their parents in the context of their own culture and language. Consideration should be given to ways to make their language, culture and identity more evident in individual portfolios. It is important for children to have frequent and ready access to these portfolios so they can revisit their learning and share their successes. Centre displays provide information to support continuity of learning across the sessions. A recent parent survey has resulted in an effective and collective termly planning system for children based on broad themes of interest.

Māori children and their whānau benefit from adults who respect their cultural values. Some adults are confident to use te reo in meaningful contexts. Aspects of tikanga are integrated into the life of the centre. A local matua provides ongoing support for centre members and children in building their understanding of te ao Māori.

Children up to two years of age are cared for by their parents. They demonstrate high levels of contentment and are included in all aspects of the playcentre sessions. Breastfeeding mothers have comfortable spaces, appropriate equipment to care for their children and the support of the collective group. Nurturing and responsive care supports these children to feel secure in an interesting and vibrant environment.

Adults have established a strong ethic of cooperative care for each other and children. They consistently:

  • listen carefully to children and engage in thoughtful learning conversations with them

  • model respectful practice

  • use positive strategies to guide children’s behaviour

  • demonstrate calm and unhurried practice, particularly when working with very young children.

Children’s positive and respectful behaviour reflects the good models provided by adults in a highly cooperative setting.

Leaders work collaboratively to enact the philosophy of building parents' capability as first teachers of their children. They model best practice and actively foster the emergent leadership of centre members. Participation in the Rotorua playcentre cluster is providing a wider support network for members. Regular meetings are held to make collective decisions about centre operations. Aspects of self review, both formal and informal, support the centre to achieve ongoing development and improvement. Effective leadership contributes to the ongoing provision of a well-established and sustainable early childhood service in the community.

The centre would benefit from more effective support from PACNIR during a time of transition. NZPF is in the process of updating existing policies to meet legislative requirements. NZPF strategic and annual plans are yet to consistently guide regional and centre direction. A particular strength of NZPF is the two-house model initiative for governance. Te Whare Tikanga Māori promotes self-determination for Māori members through regular hui and targeted funding and enacts the partnership aspect of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Key Next Steps

ERO has identified the need for PACNIR management to develop a strategic approach to implementing professional development for centres in relation to the revised Te Whāriki.

Playcentre members' next steps for ongoing development are to:

  • more clearly document evidence of the outcomes of strategic and annual planning

  • align learning stories for children to their identified interests, parent aspirations and termly evaluations of their learning and development.


ERO recommends that NZPF and PACNIR give urgent priority to developing robust systems for:

  • personnel management including appraisal of employees

  • tracking, monitoring and reporting quality assurance and compliance in individual centres.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Ngakuru 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.

Action for compliance

ERO identified an area of non-compliance related to health and safety.

  • Governance needs to develop and document a child protection policy that meets the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS31]

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Ngakuru Playcentre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

16 August 2018

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


Ngakuru, south of Rotorua

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

26 children, including up to 16 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 12 Boys 9

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

16 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2015

Education Review

September 2011

Education Review

October 2008

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.