Omakau & Districts Playcentre - 13/11/2014

1 Evaluation of Omakau & Districts Playcentre

How well placed is Omakau & Districts 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.


Omakau & Districts Playcentre is located in the historic township of Ophir in Central Otago. An experienced educator with parent helpers provides education and care programmes for children from birth to school age. The playcentre is the sole early childhood provider in the area. Since the start of 2014 the centre has increased the sessions from two to three mornings a week. The centre has applied to start a fourth session to cater for new children and families who have recently started.

The educator is assisted by parents to provide the programme. She encourages parents to undertake playcentre training and supports them as they do this. Parents of younger children stay with them during the sessions.

The playcentre is managed by the parents and is one of 35 playcentres in the Otago Playcentre Association (OPA). As part of playcentre philosophy, parents complete initial training and education. Many of the parents are continuing to build on this training.

Since the November 2011 ERO report, the educator and parents have been working with the association’s centre advisor to make improvements to individual and group planning. The playcentre has a positive reporting history from ERO.

This review was part of a cluster of 12 playcentre reviews in the Otago Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children, their parents and the educator enjoy positive and caring relationships with one another. This is evident in the way:

  • there is a strong sense of belonging in the playcentre and in the community
  • children and parents know each other well
  • newcomers and their children are made to feel very welcome.

Children play and learn in well-resourced and organised indoor and outdoor areas.ERO noticed that

children are enthusiastic and eager to start the day. They confidently made choices about what they wanted to do. Older children helped younger children as they played together. The educator supports children to learn how to be friends.

The educator and parents provide a wide range of interesting activities and resources to promote learning. They thoughtfully provide experiences that support younger children and extend older children in their learning. A strength in this playcentre is the way the programme reflects parents’ interests, and the lives and interests of the children. For example, a recent focus has been on helping children learn about science and healthy eating. Other positive aspects include:

  • clear expectations and routines for children to follow
  • literacy and music and movement
  • interesting group games
  • a sociable shared kai time.

There is some reflection of Māori perspectives in some resources and wall displays. Some tikanga practices are observed, including karakia before kai.

As part of this review, ERO investigated how well the centre supported children’s early mathematical learning. ERO found that there are many opportunities in the daily programme for children to learn concepts such as: patterns, shapes, sorting and classifying, sequencing and numbers. The educator recognises children’s interests and strengths in mathematics and deliberately plans to extend this learning. She agreed that she could better document the range of mathematics learning that is occurring.

The educator is thoughtful and has a focus on improvement. Along with the OPA centre advisor she has been developing a useful system for individual and group planning. She is seeking ways to involve parents more in maintaining the records of planning for their own children.

The educator and parents are reviewing the philosophy to ensure that it meets the values that are important to the current families. They are following meaningful self-review processes to improve what they do. For example, a recent self review with a focus on how to support successful transition to school has resulted in stronger links with the local school.

The playcentre benefits from ongoing, practical and useful support from the centre advisor.

Key Next Steps

Aspects of planning and assessment still require further development. This includes ensuring that:

  • evaluations of group planning show the learning that has occurred
  • parents are more involved in planning for their children’s learning
  • individual children’s next learning steps are known to the adults working with them.

The parents and educator need to continue to strengthen Māori perspectives in the playcentre.


The Otago Playcentre Association is facing challenges and uncertainty as the Playcentre Federation and the training it provide undergoes a period of restructuring. During this time the association has made it a priority to focus on the daily operations of the playcentres.

This includes:

  • managing an association-wide system for all aspects of health, safety and compliance
  • ongoing provision of playcentre training.

ERO found that the association needs to:

  • strengthen the appraisal process for all employed personnel
  • ensure that association policies provided to the centre are regularly reviewed
  • be more responsive and timely to training needs to enable playcentres to meet licensing and employment requirements.

Each playcentre has the ongoing support of a centre advisor. This includes:

  • regular visits to provide informal and formal feedback and encouragement
  • helping parents to know what to do to meet the licensing requirements.

Centre advisors should find ways to make best practice common practice across the association, for example effective self review and planning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Omakau & Districts 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.

ERO found that some of the recording of health and safety requirements required strengthening.

Parents must ensure they consistently record the health and safety requirements. In particular, risk analysis for outings, accidents and hazard recording.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Omakau & Districts Playcentre will be in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

13 November 2014

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


Ophir, Central Otago

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

23 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 13

Girls 8

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates

Educator with playcentre qualifications and parent help

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

Must attend with parents


Over 2


Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

13 November 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2011


Education Review

November 2007


Education Review

May 2005

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.