Palmerston Playcentre - 19/02/2013

1 Evaluation of the Service

How well placed is the service to promote positive outcomes for children?

Palmerston Playcentre is well placed to promote positive outcomes for children.


Palmerston Playcentre is one of 37 playcentres administered by the Otago Playcentre Association (OPA). The playcentre is situated beside the local primary school in the small rural community of Palmerston, East Otago. It is one of two early childhood centres in the community.

The playcentre is a focal point for many parents with young children in the community. The educator and some of the parents have been involved in the centre for a number of years. The playcentre is open for three morning sessions a week for children from birth to five years. The sessions are well attended by children and their families. Some families have strong connections within the community and there is good support for fundraising.

The parents and educators have made some good progress in addressing the recommendations in the 2009 Education Review Office report (ERO). They have improved the range of experiences provided to extend children’s exploration and investigation, and their systems for planning for children’s learning.

This review was conducted as part of a cluster approach to reviews in fifteen early childhood education services within the OPA umbrella organisation.

The Review Findings

Children and their parents benefit from strong supportive relationships with one another. Children play well together in a mixed-age setting. Older children are role models for the younger children with their learning.

Parents and educators are responsive to the children and their interests. They have useful conversations with children to help develop and extend their language and thinking. Children hear and use te reo Māori in routines and group times. Their next step is to reflect their commitment to including Māori perspectives in their centre philosophy and develop a plan to continue to build the bicultural programme.

There is a good range of resources indoors for children to use in their play and learning. This includes dramatic play and early-literacy resources. The outdoor environment has some resources to support children to develop physical skills and exploration. This area could be reviewed in terms of challenge and interest for children.

Each term the educators plan a project to support children’s learning. Children have benefitted from a recent focus on learning about belonging in the Palmerston community. They have enjoyed many trips out and about within the community, such as, visits to the other early childhood centre, the post office, shops and the fire station. Children’s learning about their community has been further extended through literacy experiences including map drawing.

Other strengths of the programme are the way that the educators plan and provide science experiences to delight and excite children and stimulate their curiosity. These experiences include investigating glass prisms, ice and growing seeds. There is good support for babies in the programme with a well set up baby area with resources to support their learning and development. Parents, educators and children are responsive to and enjoy interactions with the babies.

Parents and educators are at the beginning stages of using self review to make improvements. They have a current focus on finding ways to encourage greater parent involvement in planning for individual children. They then need to use this planning to guide their interactions and the experiences they provide for children. Parents and educators should continue to build their knowledge and use of self review. They should review their philosophy and over time review all aspects of their programme and practices.

The management of the centre is well organised and this contributes to the smooth running of the centre. There is ongoing support for parents to take on responsibility within the management and education roles. Some parents are now undertaking playcentre training.

The Centre Advisor provides useful advice and support to the centre.

The Otago Playcentre Association (OPA) provides a comprehensive range of support to this and other playcentres. This includes:

  • developing an action plan for all centres to be relicensed with the 2008 Regulations
  • managing an association-wide system for all aspects of health, safety and compliance
  • ongoing support for employment processes
  • targeted support for playcentres requiring additional assistance
  • ongoing provision of playcentre training.

The OPA executive and personnel hold regular meetings with a specific focus on each centre. They discuss best ways to support individual centres. Records from these meetings could be more specific about what support is provided and the difference it has made.

A strength of the OPA is the ongoing support provided by the centre advisors. The centre advisor effectively supports the parents and educators in developing their understanding of planning and assessment and self review.

Centre advisors should continue to build their knowledge and understanding of self review. They should use each centre's self review as evidence to assure the governors of the OPA how well the playcentre is promoting positive outcomes for children.

OPA personnel need to further develop their understanding of self review and use the findings of self review to assure themselves of the effectiveness of their strategic goals and all aspects of the OPA management and operations.

The OPA governors have a sound policy framework to support the playcentre.

2 Legal Requirements

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Palmerston 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.

3 Next Review

When is ERO likely to review the early childhood service again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

19 February 2013

Information about the Early Childhood Service

Location Palmerston    
Ministry of Education profile number 81030    
Licence type Playcentre - Sessional    
Licensed under Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008    
Number licensed for 25 children, including up to 10 aged under 2    
Service roll 25    

Gender composition

Boys: 15

Girls: 10


Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā





Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent led cooperative


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2

Over 2



Meets minimum requirements

Meets minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2012


Date of this report

19 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2009

April 2006

December 2001


General Information about Early Childhood Reviews

About ERO Reviews

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the New Zealand government department that reviews schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

Review focus

ERO's education reviews in early childhood services focus on the factors that contribute to positive learning outcomes for children. ERO evaluates how well placed the service is to make and sustain improvements for the benefit of all children at the service. To reach these findings ERO considers:

  • 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 self review and partnerships with parents and whānau.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of service performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to the service.