Riversdale Playcentre - 06/05/2019

1 Evaluation of Riversdale Playcentre

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

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

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


Riversdale Playcentre is one of 47 playcentres in the recently-formed South Island Southern Region (SISR) hub. The SISR is part of the New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF). The playcentre organisation is nearing the end of an extensive restructure and review. From 2019, playcentres will be part of a national group known as Playcentre Aotearoa.

Riversdale Playcentre is a rural playcentre open for two morning sessions for children from birth-to-school age. Most parents attend with their children. The sessions are led by a paid educator with the support of designated parent help. At the time of this review, the playcentre was transitioning to a new educator in term two following the retirement of a long-serving educator. A centre support worker from the SISR visits regularly. A number of the parents are participating in the playcentre adult education training programme.

ERO's 2017 review found significant areas requiring further development and some aspects of non-compliance. Areas to improve included:

  • assessment for learning

  • adult engagement with children and their learning

  • internal evaluation

  • educational success for Māori

  • systems for the effective operation of the playcentre.

The playcentre, with the support of the SISR and external providers, has made very good progress in addressing all of these areas. There have also been improvements to the indoor and outdoor areas. All of the non-compliance actions have been addressed.

The Review Findings

There is a strong sense of whakawhanaungatanga in the playcentre. This is evident in the positive culture and welcoming environment for children and their families. Parents' aspirations are for their children to be successful learners at Riversdale Playcentre. Together they have developed clear guiding statements which reflect this aspiration and their commitment to the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Children are settled and show a sense of belonging. They play and learn in well-resourced indoor and outdoor environments. The wide range of experiences and resources provide them with choice and challenge. Many of the resources and activities reflect the lives and interests of rural children, and enable them to make meaningful connections to the community. The child-led programme allows them to follow their interests.

The playcentre is building bicultural practice and te reo Māori. This is helping Māori children to know their heritage is valued.

Infants and toddlers benefit from being with their parents during the sessions and from the tuakana-teina relationships in the mixed-age setting. They are able to successfully participate in all the activities and also make use of the dedicated area with resources especially designed for younger children.

Parents have become more involved in supporting their own and other children's learning in the sessions. They are encouraged to share their strengths and ideas and are becoming more confident in setting goals and developing plans for their children's learning. New systems for planning, assessment and evaluation are helping parents develop an understanding of Te Whāriki, the NZ Early Childhood Curriculum, and to set goals for their children's learning.

Parents have improved their use of internal evaluation to review aspects of the playcentre operation and programme. This has been aligned to the strategic plan and has led to some positive improvements. The parents work well together to ensure the smooth running of the service.

Key Next Steps

The parents and leaders at the playcentre agree that their next steps are to embed new systems and ensure that the positive changes are maintained. This includes continuing to:

  • refine aspects of planning, assessment and evaluation by focusing more on the intended learning

  • build parent involvement in the playcentre organisation, education and in the assessment, planning and evaluation of children's learning

  • review and evaluate the playcentre's annual and strategic goals and keep these to the fore, particularly with changes in centre personnel.


NZPF have developed and are implementing a clear national and regional management structure. Some of the new roles have had a very positive impact at centre level, with parent council members valuing the increased support they receive.

Of particular significance are:

  • the centre administrator role which provides sound monitoring of health, safety and compliance

  • the centre support worker who visits regularly to share best practice and monitor the quality of learning and teaching

  • the role of a facilitator, available at every session, to role model good practice and empower parents to implement effective early childhood education for their children.

The next steps for the SISR are to:

  • refine and embed the new NZPF structure, systems and processes, including monitoring and lines of reporting

  • continue to develop and strengthen the NZPF and individual playcentre internal evaluation processes and practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Riversdale 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.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

6 May 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


Riversdale, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 17, Girls 12

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnicities


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

February 2019

Date of this report

6 May 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

April 2017

Education Review

September 2013

Education Review

November 2010

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

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.