Play School Early Learning Centre - 04/03/2019

1 Evaluation of Play School Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Play School Early Learning Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Play School Early Learning Centre requires further development to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Internal evaluation, appraisal and assessment practices continue to require improvement. Curriculum development and strategic planning have also been identified as key next steps.

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


Play School Early Learning Centre is in Johnsonville, Wellington and is licensed for 29 children, including eight children up to two years old. Children from a range of ethnicities, including seven Māori, make up the current roll of 32 children.

The philosophy and vision is for the centre to provide a positive, nurturing and responsive environment, with strong respectful relationships through play-based learning and bicultural practice. Recent developments include the use of an online-platform for documenting learning and a focus on environmentally sustainable practices.

The service is an established stand-alone business, operated by the owner who is a qualified teacher and responsible for the day-to-day running of the centre. There have been recent staff and leadership changes.

The March 2016 ERO report identified a number of key next steps. These included further developing assessment practices, internal evaluation, appraisal and building culturally responsive practice. Many of these areas continue to remain priority areas for improvement.

The Review Findings

Children benefit from warm, affirming relationships. They choose play-based activities and collaborate positively with their peers. Opportunities for oral language development, numeracy, kapa haka and celebration of cultural events are provided through the programme.

Teachers are nurturing and demonstrate positive and responsive care. They work alongside children to support their play and collaboratively promote the wellbeing of children. Respectful care routines are demonstrated. Interactions are calm and gentle. Children up to two are nurtured in comfortable, quiet spaces. A calm, unhurried environment supports their sense of belonging and exploration.

The programme should be strengthened through provision of a responsive, stimulating curriculum that:

  • offers opportunities for increased independence and self-directed learning

  • engages children in meaningful learning through investigation and inquiry

  • caters more deliberately for children's additional learning needs, strengths and interests

  • ensures routines are used to maximise learning

  • better reflects Te Whāriki (2017), the early learning curriculum.

Narrative assessment regularly document individual children’s interests, their engagement in the programme and learning progress. They demonstrate teachers' knowledge of the children and show they are noticing, recognising and responding appropriately to their learning. Further use of these assessment records to provide children with opportunities to regularly revisit their learning, link more deliberately to parents' aspirations and better reflect children's language, culture and identity are next steps.

Since the previous ERO review, the centre has had a focus on reviewing their planning processes. Planning should be further strengthened to better respond to assessment information and promote learning. Leaders should ensure that a collaborative, shared approach to planning is effectively supported and shows how teaching is intentional. Learning outcomes should be regularly evaluated.

A systematic approach to internal evaluation is yet to be established. This was identified in the March 2016 ERO report and remains a priority for improvement.

A strategic plan articulates the vision for learning at the centre and appropriately focuses on the development of teaching practice and provision of a culturally responsive curriculum. To improve the effectiveness of strategic planning in promoting improvement, the plan should:

  • include specific, aligned actions to support the achievement of goals and centre priorities

  • monitor progress towards goals

  • evaluate the effectiveness of actions in promoting improvement for children and their families.

The appraisal process promotes teachers’ reflection and gathering of evidence aligned to the Education Council's Standards for the Teaching Profession. Feedback on practice is personalised, identifies teacher strengths and gives direction for improvement. To further improve appraisal, procedures should be clearly documented, goals should be clear, and observations should be planned and aligned to teachers' goals and centre priorities. The manager's appraisal should also be strengthened.

Key Next Steps

Since ERO's onsite phase for the review process, a curriculum framework has been developed. This is likely to be useful for teaching and for internal evaluation.

Leaders should strengthen their capacity to take a leading role in designing, implementing and embedding the curriculum and build shared understandings of internal evaluation to ensure change and improvement is sustained. Development should include:

continuing to engage in centre-wide professional development to implement the refreshed Te Whāriki, early childhood curriculum

  • ensuring the learning that matters most for learners and families at this centre is clearly defined and informed by their aspirations

  • expectations for quality teaching practice, including assessment, planning and evaluation, are clearly understood and enacted

  • ongoing evaluation of teaching practice and the programme to determine the impact on children’s outcomes

  • implementing a regular cycle of evaluation in relation to key priorities to guide decision-making and improvement.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Play School Early Learning Centre 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 Governance and Management and Health and Safety. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • having an ongoing process of self review to help the service maintain and improve the quality of its education and care

  • ensuring documentation for excursions is sufficiently robust to support the assessment and management of risk [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, Regulation 43, C1, GMA6, HS17].

To improve practice:

  • the centre should ensure policies, procedures and practices clearly align

  • policies and procedures for staff appointments should be reviewed to more clearly reflect the Vulnerable Children's Act (2014) requirements

  • the centre's Positive Guidance policy should be reviewed to better reflect good practice.

Since the onsite phase of the process, the centre has made changes to these policies.

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a 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 Play School Early Learning Centre will be within two years.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

4 March 2019

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

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

29 children, including up to 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 18, Boys 14

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Percentage of qualified teachers


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

December 2018

Date of this report

4 March 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2016

Education Review

November 2012

Education Review

March 2009

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 will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed
  • Well placed
  • Requires further development
  • Not well placed

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.