Rerewhakaaitu Playcentre - 13/08/2018

1 Evaluation of Rerewhakaaitu Playcentre

How well placed is  Rerewhakaaitu 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.


Rerewhakaaitu Playcentre is a well-established parent-led service that provides education and care for children from birth to school age. It is located opposite the local primary school and offers two morning sessions each week. The playcentre is licensed for up to 30 children, including 15 under two years of age. The current roll is 13.

During 2018 playcentres are transitioning from operating as The New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF) with 32 regional associations to a national organisation with six offices. In the central North Island eight associations have merged into a regional hub renamed Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region (PACNIR). This region includes 95 playcentres spread over a large geographic area. During the organisation transition there is some overlap between the previous Rotorua association systems and new national approaches. At the time of this ERO review there is considerable uncertainty as new processes become established.

The new governance management structure consists of a regional manager and a centre support coordinator whose role is to access guidance and management support for the playcentre. Currently the centre receives some administrative support. A national professional learning and development team is in the early stages of planning for additional learning support to build members’ capability as first teachers of their children.

Responsibility for centre leadership is shared across a small number of members. A focus for this playcentre is to engage members in training as courses become available through NZPF. This is necessary to enable the centre to receive Ministry of Education funding for sessions.

Through the playcentre’s philosophy, members value child-initiated play where children have freedom of choice in a mixed-age setting with high adult-to-child ratios. Members aim to access playcentre education and operate as a family cooperative, promoting children’s seamless learning from home and other experiences, and extending these in sessions.

ERO’s previous review in May 2015 identified key next steps for improving strategic and programme planning. Centre members have made good progress in developing these areas.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentre reviews in the Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island Region.

The Review Findings

Effective shared leadership is contributing to centre sustainability. Members actively promote the playcentre philosophy, sharing common goals and values. The centre president participates in the Rotorua Playcentre Cluster. This group provides a useful support network for parents as educators. Members have developed a sound framework for strategic planning that includes outcomes for children and timeframes for completion. Self review is meaningful, manageable and linked to the strategic plan. This enables members to identify areas for improvement and centre direction. Shared leadership is contributing to a strong sense of community that fosters the belonging and contribution of children and parents.

The playcentre philosophy underpins the curriculum. Members pay close attention to creating and maintaining environments that support and motivate child-initiated play, exploration and learning. Regular self review in aspects of the programme and environment ensures ongoing responsiveness to children’s interests and learning. A feature of the philosophy in action is the mixed-age setting. Older children are able to practice leadership, nurturing of others and social skills. Younger children have the opportunity to engage in complex play scenarios and learn from older children. Children also benefit from close links to the wider community and strong continuity of learning between home and playcentre.

Positive relationships at all levels are highly evident. There is a warm and welcoming culture where children and their families demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and community identity. Children are confident. They trust adults and develop close friendships with their peers. Communication between parents models and promotes respect and cooperation, fostering teamwork among members and children’s social competence. Members have developed positive and productive relationships within the wider community, including the local school. These relationships enhance the wellbeing and sense of belonging for children and families, and support positive transitions to school.

Te reo Māori is integrated in ways that are meaningful to children. The centre is well supported in its journey toward bicultural practices by a local kapa haka tutor and mentor. Children and parents enjoy regular opportunities to sing waiata, hear te reo Māori and participate in karakia. ERO observed children’s spontaneous use of te reo, waiata and haka. They demonstrate respect for and appreciation of the Māori language and culture.

Assessment and planning is well documented and meaningful. Members have developed a useful framework that is consistently used and enables parents to notice, recognise and respond to their children’s interests and learning. There are regular opportunities for members to work together to identify and document goals for children and plan for the coming term. Attractive and up-to-date centre displays and individual assessment records highlight children’s interests and contribute to continuity of their learning across sessions.

Children up to two years of age benefit from nurturing and responsive care and interactions. The environment is calm and settled. Breast feeding mothers receive collective support from other members. Specific spaces and thoughtfully chosen equipment support uninterrupted sleep, play and exploration for this age group.

The centre would benefit from more effective support from the PACNR during a challenging time of transition. NZPF is in the process of updating existing polices to meet legislative requirements. A particular strength of NZPF is the two-house model initiative for governance. Te Whare Tikanga Māori promotes self-determination for Māori members through regular hui and targeted funding and enacts the partnership aspect of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. A centre administration support person, with close connections and knowledge of the playcentre, has recently been appointed. This role is valued by members, enabling them to spend more time with their children on sessions.

Key Next Steps

ERO has identified the need for PACNIR management to develop a more strategic approach to professional development in relation to implementing the revised Te Whāriki.

Playcentre members' next step is to give consideration to strengthening the integration of literacy and mathematics in contexts that are meaningful in the child-initiated, play-based curriculum.


ERO recommends that the NZPF and PACNIR give urgent priority to developing robust systems for:

  • personnel management, including appraisal of employees

  • tracking, monitoring and reporting quality assurance and compliance in individual playcentres.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Rerewhakaaitu 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.

ERO identified areas of non-compliance related to health and safety.

  • Governance needs to develop and document a child protection policy that meets the requirements of the Vulnerable Children's Act 2014.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS31 and HS6]

To improve practice centre members need to strengthen systems and processes relating to documenting and monitoring aspects of compliance to ensure:

  • appropriate documentation is completed when children and adults leave the premises during sessions

In addition, governance should give urgent priority to developing up to date policies ensuring playcentres are aware of, and consistently comply with legislative requirements.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Rerewhakaaitu Playcentre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

13 August 2018

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


Rerewhakaaitu, south of Rotorua

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

Girls 8 Boys 5

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

13 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2015

Education Review

September 2011

Education Review

July 2008

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.