Otorohanga Playcentre - 09/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Otorohanga Playcentre

How well placed is Otorohanga 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.


Otorohanga Playcentre is a parent-led centre located in the north King Country town of Otorohanga. It operates under the umbrella of the King Country Playcentre Association to provide education and care for children from birth to school age. The roll has increased since the 2012 ERO review. At the time of this review, the roll of 40 children included 15 who identify as Māori.

The playcentre operates sessions for all ages on Monday and Wednesday mornings. A 'Big Kids' session is run by an experienced supervisor on Friday mornings. The centre follows the playcentre philosophy, which gives parents shared responsibility for centre management and leadership and places priority on helping parents to further develop their ability to nurture and extend children's self-initiated play and learning. Adults maintain a strong belief in parents as first teachers.

Previous ERO reports found that children benefitted from learning and play in a high quality learning environment that catered for their diverse interests and abilities. The playcentre was well led and effectively managed by a dedicated group of parents/caregivers. This 2016 ERO review finds that these positive features continue to be evident.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentre reviews in the King Country Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children are highly engaged in learning and play activities which cater for a wide range of identified interests and ages. Interactions between adults and children are supportive, positive, and affirming. Feedback from adults regularly affirms children's learning, thinking and problem solving. Oral language and vocabulary are continually developed and extended.

Younger children benefit from mixed-age sessions where older children are role models for safe, inclusive play and provide encouragement for them to try new things. Children, parents and families benefit from the centre's positive, supportive and family-like atmosphere. Children know each other well and demonstrate a strong sense of belonging at the playcentre.

Strong parent partnerships ensure that home interests are well known by parents and the team. Parents also recognise that interests identified at playcentre can be immediately extended at home. The child-led programme is based on noticing, recognising and responding to these interests. Activities during each session are effectively co-constructed between children and adults.

Collaborative team planning by playcentre members gives effective direction for programme activities throughout the term. Daily evaluations determine programme adaptations and activities for the following session. Regular planning and evaluation include specified activities for children up to the age of two. While there are examples of effective assessment in individual children's portfolios, this is an area of continuing development.

Children happily sustain their engagement in a variety of physical challenges, creative activities, messy play and opportunities for exploration and investigation. Equipment and resources are readily accessible to enhance their play and learning. Early mathematics, science and literacy skills are fostered through authentic play contexts. Books are prominently displayed and read interactively with children. The 'Big Kids' programme provides opportunities for further development of these learning areas. Smooth transition to school is facilitated by regular visits to a nearby primary school.

Learning environments continue to be exciting and welcoming for children. The stimulating indoor and outdoor play areas include bilingual displays and well-considered resources and equipment. The play areas are changed and refreshed each term after reflection and discussion among playcentre members.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation and the King Country Playcentre Association continue to provide good quality governance and management for this centre. The association provides comprehensive policies and guidelines, and employs a centre support person who assists families to operate the service in the best interests of children and their parents and whānau. The benefits of this support would be made more evident if a process was introduced to provide formal reports on the quality of centre programmes.

Members maintain a collaborative approach to leadership. They have developed a strategic plan to guide ongoing development and improvement. Regular playcentre meetings include reflective discussions that lead to improvements for children's play and learning. There is a positive approach to succession planning to fill office-holder positions, including the role of president.

Many parents are involved in playcentre training courses that aim to improve children's education and care. Professional development currently provided by the Association is likely to assist in developing centre-wide, strategic self review and the further implementation of bi-cultural practices. Centre members value support from the association's centre support person when needed.

Key Next Steps

The playcentre and ERO have agreed that next steps for the service are to:

  • develop and implement a planned, strategic approach to self review. These reviews should identify actions needed for improvement, an implementation plan, and a process for monitoring progress to ensure changes have been effective in improving outcomes for children

  • continue the emphasis on reviewing and developing bicultural perspectives and continue to increase the use of te reo Māori in conversations with children

  • review children’s portfolio records to consider how well assessments demonstrate learning and progress over time, and how well early literacy (including oral language) and mathematics skills are assessed and developed within the playcentre programme.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

9 June 2016

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 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 24 Girls 16

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

9 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2012

Education Review

February 2010

Education Review

June 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.