Russell Playcentre - 30/10/2015

1 Evaluation of Russell Playcentre

 How well placed is Russell 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.


Russell Playcentre operates five morning sessions per week. It is licensed for 23 children, including up to eight under two years of age. Children of all ages play together throughout the centre with shared access to all indoor and outdoor play spaces.

Russell Playcentre operates as part of the Mid Northland Playcentre Association. The association provides parent education programmes and an administration framework to guide the operation of the centre. The national playcentre organisation is in the process of a significant restructure. This is likely to have an impact on the role and structure of the local association.

Playcentre philosophy is underpinned by the belief that parents are the first and best educators of their children. All members contribute to the running of the centre and play alongside children to support their learning and development.

The 2012 ERO report highlighted the inclusive, well resourced environment, where children were well supported to play co-operatively for sustained periods of time, as an area of strength of the centre. The centre’s strong links with the community were also acknowledged. These strengths have been maintained.

ERO noted that centre members could improve programme evaluation, records of children’s learning, literacy in the programme and annual planning. There has been progress in some of these areas.

The Review Findings

Children are friendly and outgoing. Strong relationships amongst adults and children have supported children to develop a real sense of belonging and ownership in the playcentre environment.

Children of all ages benefit from the mixed age play which allows them to mentor, support and learn from each other. High levels of collaboration across the adult team have created a stable and happy emotional environment.

Children confidently choose resources and places to play. Adults follow the lead of the children and are responsive to their needs and their interests. Interactions with children are both conversational and purposeful in extending children’s thinking. Good levels of adult training are building professional knowledge across the team.

Programme planning processes identify and follow children’s interests and strengths. Individual assessment portfolios demonstrate the depth of knowledge adults have about each child. Adults could now consider how documentation in portfolios could be strengthened, or varied, in order to show the progression of children’s learning over time.

Effective relationships with the local primary school support successful transitions to school. The centre provides a session on Friday just for the older children, which includes visits to the new entrant classroom. The supervisor of this session is aware of the need to provide a balance between adult expectations and children’s learning needs when planning this part of the programme.

Waiata, te reo and tikanga Māori are being incorporated into each session by a centre member who is committed to growing the team’s bicultural knowledge. Centre wide commitment to strengthening bicultural practice is growing as understanding deepens.

Shared leadership roles across the executive team are building the capacity of centre members. A complementary set of individual skills and willingness to be involved is setting the centre up well for the future. A review of the current philosophy statement could help to focus and guide the centre’s future direction.

Centre members have developed a short-term strategic plan that highlights their vision and goals. Allowing this to extend over a longer timeframe would provide long-term guidance and direction for the centre. The development of an annual plan to sit under this would help map progress towards achieving bigger goals while assuring all aspects of the successful running of the centre are covered.

Centre members annually review policies and may change procedures to respond specifically to their own context. The centre would benefit from ongoing, timely support from their association in conducting day to day operations until the re-structure in May next year.

Key Next Steps

Centre members agree that to enhance outcomes for children they should:

  • continue to strengthen self-review processes
  • review strategic and annual planning processes
  • evaluate programme planning and teaching practices and how these impact on children’s learning.

In addition, association leaders should consider ways of providing timely, ongoing support to meet the centre’s needs when required. 

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

30 October 2015

2 Information about the Early Childhood Service


Russell, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

23 children, including up to 8 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 12

Boys 10

Ethnic composition

Māori 7

Pākehā 14

European/Asian 1

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Over 2


Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

30 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review July 2012

Education Review February 2009

Education Review October 2005

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.