Otaki Playcentre - 16/05/2017

1 Evaluation of Otaki Playcentre

How well placed is Otaki 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.


Otaki Playcentre is one of 19 parent-led early childhood centres governed and administered by the Wellington Playcentre Association (the association). The service is licensed to provide mixed age sessional education and care for 30 children four mornings a week. This includes provision for 18 children up to the age of two.

A council, of elected volunteer representatives from each of the association's member centres oversees operation of the association at the governance level. Their work is assisted by an operations manager and general manager.

An executive committee administers the adult education programme and tutors provide timely guidance and support for members. A centre support worker is employed to visit the centre and provide professional advice and feedback to strengthen practice and promote improvement. Responsibility for day-to-day operation is undertaken by centre-elected office holders.

The association philosophy, Whānau tupu ngātahi – families growing together, articulated as empowering parents and children to learn grow and play together, underpins practice. This was reaffirmed by the association and Otaki Playcentre at their 2016 annual general meetings. It guides service provision and practice for their learning community.

Curriculum planning and implementation, at Otaki Playcentre, is a shared responsibility. A paid centre member is supported each session by a duty team of parent educators who hold playcentre training certificates. Many centre members are involved in the adult education training programme provided by the association. In the past eighteen months the centre has undergone significant growth. It is challenged by an almost complete change of parents and children and the loss of several experienced centre members.

The association and centre responded positively to the areas identified for improvement in the 2014 ERO reviews. Internal evaluation and strategic planning were undertaken by association personnel to bring about changes to both the structural and organisational culture of the organisation. Clear boundaries between governance and management were expressed and changes made to improve the support to individual centres.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation, of which the Wellington Association is part of, 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.

This review was part of a cluster of nine reviews in the Wellington Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children engage enthusiastically in a curriculum clearly aligned to the association philosophy and Te Whāriki. Centre members work collaboratively to provide a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for families. They recognise the importance of developing positive relationships with each other and knowing all children well.

Adults are positive role models for learning and encourage children’s holistic development through active participation in a play-based, child-initiated programme. A strong sense of community is apparent.

There are opportunities for children to lead their own learning. Their strengths and interests inform the programme. They are seen as confident, capable communicators. Literacy and mathematics learning is enhanced as part of children’s daily experiences. Adults' collective responsibility and engagement nurtures very young children with their learning and progress.

A comprehensive internal evaluation was undertaken, during 2014, to discover how well the association and centres included te reo me ngā tikanga Māori as part of a culturally-rich, responsive curriculum. Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are increasingly part of learning experiences offered at the centre. Signposts include kupu Māori, natural resources and te ao Māori concepts. Local community contexts, that include weekly sessions in the bush, enrich children's learning experiences.

A useful transition process with the local school and a positive, collaborative relationship supports children's interactive experiences.

Otaki Playcentre members are made up of a diverse group of enthusiastic parents and whānau who bring valuable skills and knowledge to their roles. The high levels of involvement of the centre's community and a sense of collective responsibility to children, provide a positive platform for learning. Well-developed systems support the smooth day-to-day running of the playcentre.

The May 2014 ERO report, identified centre leaders would benefit from association support to further develop assessment, planning, te ao Māori and self-review practices. The dual purpose of self review for accountability and improvement is developing and increasingly guides ongoing decision-making. The association and centre support person should continue to build centre capacity in growing these practices to contribute to effective internal evaluation.

There is a deliberate commitment to improving internal evaluation. Spontaneous and informal review is used to reflect on aspects of practice. Recent professional development has supported centre members' improved understanding of planned review. Planning priorities are aligned to the service and association vision and focused on improving teaching and learning. 

The association is an improvement focused organisation. The 2014 ERO reviews found the support provided at the centre level by association support workers was appreciated and supportive. ERO also recognised that formalising this arrangement to provide a more effective approach to responding to the needs of individual centres was a next step for development.

The association, as part of reviewing their structural organisation, reviewed the position of centre support workers and made improvements to human resource management. Timely and relevant support is provided for its member centres.

The centre support person and duty teams provide effective leadership that contributes positively to children’s early learning experience. The inclusion of te ao Māori, as an integral part of children's daily experience continues to strengthen through ongoing internal evaluation. Helpful strategies are in place to support newer members to the centre to document and record children's learning and progress.

Key Next Steps

Association and centre leaders should continue to improve outcomes for children and families by embedding understanding of internal evaluation to ensure good practice is sustained and prioritised developments are achieved.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Patricia Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

16 May 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 18 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 19, Girls 11

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

16 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

May 2014

Education Review

October 2010

Education Review

December 2007

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.