Pongakawa Playcentre - 28/02/2019

1 Evaluation of Pongakawa Playcentre

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Pongakawa Playcentre is well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Pongakawa Playcentre is a parent-led education and care service located in the Western Bay of Plenty. It caters for children from birth to six years of age and operates two mixed-age morning sessions per week. The playcentre is licensed for 25 children including up to 13 under the age of two years. The current roll of 23 children includes 15 who identify as Māori.

During 2018 the New Zealand Playcentre Federation transitioned from operating with 32 regional associations to become one national body with six regional offices. In the central North Island six associations have merged into a regional hub renamed Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region that now includes 95 playcentres over a large geographic area. During this transition there is some overlap between associations and the new national regional systems and processes. Treaty of Waitangi and self-determination for Māori is evident through the whānau developed strategic plan, Te Mahere established roopu that provide whānau networks. At Pongakawa Playcentre the president is supported by a committee of parent members. A Centre Administrator and Centre Support Worker are provided by governance.

Through their national philosophy the playcentre places emphasis on whānau tupu ngatahi – families growing together. They empower adults and children to play, work and grow together and value and affirm parents as first and best educators of their children.

Pongakawa Playcentre has a positive reporting history with ERO. Since the last ERO review in 2015 there has been a change in leadership, development of a new strategic plan, and a stronger focus on growing parent education knowledge. Leaders have improved the understanding and use of the early childhood curriculum Te Whariki, initiated end of sessions evaluations, and implemented frameworks and indicators to inform self review.

This review was part of a cluster of five playcentres in the Central North Island Region.

The Review Findings

Pongakawa Playcentre philosophy expresses shared values and beliefs which promote the wellbeing, health, safety, learning and development of children.

Parents' interactions are highly effective in promoting positive learning outcomes for children. They skilfully notice, recognise and respond to children’s learning. Oral language is encouraged and developed through learning conversations. Children engage in sustained and complex learning activities. The mixed-age group enables older children to take some responsibility for younger toddlers and babies. Children develop positive friendships with their peers and learn to interact with a wider group of adults. Whānau are invited to complete a learning review for their tamariki and are active in planning teams and through all aspects of the centre. All children's learning and behaviour needs are well supported in an inclusive environment. Both parents and children demonstrate a strong sense of belonging to the centre.

Assessment information is used to plan and evaluate the programme and shows children’s progress and learning over time. Parents set regular goals for their children. These are shared with other members who work together to enrich the programme and support each child to reach their individual goals.

The centre’s curriculum is based on the principles of Te Whāriki the early childhood curriculum and the value of play-based learning. Children have access to a wide range of up-to-date equipment and resources that support their interests and extend their learning through play. All areas of the curriculum are attractively presented and well used by children. Literacy and mathematics are well integrated in the programme and centre members have made significant progress in enhancing bicultural perspectives and practices.

The centre benefits from the dedication of experienced centre members who work collaboratively to effectively lead centre operations and the programme for children. These members use their skills and knowledge to establish expectations, model the playcentre way of working and support new members. Respectful relationships and responsive leadership contribute to a positive learning environment for children and adults.

Parents are focused on the specific needs of toddlers and babies. They are responsive to the individual routines and needs of these young children. Babies and toddlers enjoy consistent caregiving that responds sensitively to each child’s changing needs and preferences.

The Playcentre Aotearoa overarching strategic and individual annual plans guide the playcentre's direction and focus on building capability through parent education programmes. There has been regular communication and support between the association and regions through the restructure. Existing policies and systems support centre operations until new systems developed by playcentre Aotearoa are implemented. The playcentre philosophy and vision are clearly documented and strategic goals set, now there is a need to measure the impact and outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre management agree that the next step is to:

  • use internal evaluation to monitor the progress and evaluate the achievement of the action plans that are related to strategic objectives.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

28 February 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


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

25 children, including up to 13 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 15 Girls 8

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

December 2018

Date of this report

28 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2015

Education Review

October 2011

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.