Otautau Playcentre - 10/04/2017

1 Evaluation of Otautau Playcentre

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

The level of support from the association has not been sufficient in assisting members to grow their practice, understand their regulatory responsibilities and offer a programme which reflects their philosophy.

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


Otautau Playcentre is parent led and provides two sessions each week for children up to school age.

The SPA is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF) to reduce duplication and make cost savings. This restructure will mean significant changes at the local association level. An interim board is being established at SPA to support playcentres through this transitional period.

The September 2013 ERO report identified a number of areas for review and development. These included: assessment, planning and evaluation for children's learning; internal evaluation; and the quality of post-session reflections. The report also identified a need for the playcentre to improve its performance in meeting regulatory requirements with regard to excursions beyond the licensed premises. Limited progress has been made in addressing these key next steps.

Since the previous ERO report, a number of long-standing playcentre families have moved on to school. A part-time educator was employed by parent members in February 2017.

This review was part of a cluster 13 in the Southland Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

The playcentre has an important role in providing early childhood opportunities in this rural area. Adults are in the very early stages of rebuilding capability following a significant turnover of membership. Systems and processes are not sufficiently understood, shared and consistently implemented by parent members to enable them to develop and maintain high quality practice. 

Assessment, planning and evaluation of children's learning needs improvement. This was a key next step in the previous report. Some progress has been made in the quality of post-session meetings where adults discuss strategies to support individual children's learning. Members agree that there is still significant work to do to ensure that adults are consistently noticing and recording children's previous learning to inform future planning.

The induction process to support new members to meet playcentre expectations requires strengthening. There has been a recent focus on growing membership. New parents are warmly welcomed and encouraged to participate in activities alongside their children. However, opportunities to engage with children in their learning are not consistently acted upon.

Bicultural practices are evident in some routines and resources. Adults recognise the need to strengthen this approach across playcentre programmes and to further develop their understanding of supporting Māori children's culture, language and identities. ERO's evaluation affirms this development.

Internal evaluation needs considerable development. This was a key next step in the previous report. Reflection is informing resource decisions and the new educator has recently introduced self review. Parent members agree they need to develop their knowledge and understanding of internal evaluation as a tool to drive ongoing progress to improve outcomes for children.

Sustainability of provision at Otautau Playcentre is a concern. A relatively low number of parents have higher level Playcentre qualifications. There is a need to empower and motivate parents to discover more about children’s learning.

A small, core group of members show commitment to maintaining a playcentre presence in Otautau. They have employed a Playcentre qualified educator to support their practice in improving outcomes for children. Additional targeted support is needed to help members address the areas for development detailed in this report.

The board has been proactive in developing processes to assist in the smooth transition for playcentres to work under the NZPF. Opportunities have been offered to playcentre members to engage with SPA to consider how they can best support services through the impending restructure.

The board has identified a number of systems and processes have lapsed and need improvement. Immediate attention is required to review policies that guide the appointments procedure and health and safety practices. The appraisal process has also lapsed or not been robustly implemented. These improvements are a priority to meet licensing criteria, and for monitoring the quality of centre practices.

More consistent, timely and evaluative reporting should be provided to the board to assure them that accountabilities are met and to better inform their decision making. 

Key Next Steps

The playcentre educator and members agree areas for strengthening include:

  • assessment, planning and evaluation

  • the consistency of adults practice

  • internal evaluation

  • the bicultural curriculum

  • knowledge and understanding of regulatory responsibilities.

Key next steps for the association are to:

  • review SPA policies, giving priority to those related to appointments and health and safety practices

  • re-establish the appraisal process

  • facilitate the evaluative reporting to the board.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Otautau 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. 

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to health and safety. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • a record of excursions that includes evidence of parental permission and of appropriate assessment and management of risk. [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS17]

ERO also identified areas of non-compliance for the Southland Playcentre Association in relation to governance and management. To meet requirements the association needs to:

  • implement a system of regular appraisal. [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA7]

To improve practice the Southland Playcentre Association should:

  • ensure policies and procedures for travel by a motor vehicle clearly specify the person responsible for excursion approvals has verified all drivers have a current full New Zealand driver licence and each vehicle is registered and has a current warrant of fitness. 

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service consult with the Ministry of Education and plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Otautau Playcentre will be within two years.

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

10 April 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

32 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 10, Girls 8

Ethnic composition





Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

10 April 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

September 2013

Education Review

June 2010

Education Review

March 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.