Sanson Playcentre - 11/10/2018

1 Evaluation of Sanson Playcentre

How well placed is Sanson 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.


Sanson Playcentre is one of 19 administered by the Central Districts Playcentre Association (the association). The centre is licensed to provide sessional education and care for 30 children, two sessions a week, in a mixed-aged setting. This includes provision for 20 children up to the age of two. At the time of this review, of the 10 children enrolled, five identify as Māori.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation (the federation), of which Central Districts Association is part, is undergoing a significant restructure that includes amalgamating associations. Playcentres will become part of a regional hub, supported by a regional manager and others.

The federation philosophy, 'Whānau tupu ngātahi – families growing together', is to empower parents and children to learn, play and grow together. Alongside this, the centre philosophy emphasises the importance of an emergent, child-led curriculum.

A newly appointed centre support worker (CSW), currently employed by the federation regularly visits the centre and provides professional advice and feedback to strengthen the programme for children. A centre administrator works with members to support compliance with regulations. Responsibility for day-to-day management is undertaken by centre-elected office holders. Parents share responsibility for implementing the programme. A paid facilitator leads the group to run sessions.

The July 2016 ERO report found significant development was needed to improve outcomes for children. Key next steps for the centre included: planning for learning and centre development; and internal evaluation.

The association was required to: implement rigorous appraisal; and develop systems to provide professional learning and development to respond to centre needs. Non-compliance was identified in relation to governance and management, and curriculum.

Since that time, the teaching team has received targeted support through a Ministry of Education-funded programme, Strengthening Early Learning Opportunities (SELO). Good progress has been made in developing the quality of practice and operation.

The Review Findings

Playcentre philosophy is evident in practice. Children have ongoing opportunities to engage in a range of well-planned activities and have access to high quality learning resources. Adults are responsive and respectful, supporting each other to implement a suitable play-based approach. Te ao Māori is developing in the programme and environment.

Infants and toddlers are comfortable and happy in the playcentre environment. A well-resourced play space supports those infants not yet mobile.

An improved approach to planning the programme has been put in place. Members meet daily to discuss children's emerging interests and learning to inform their decisions about planning for subsequent sessions. A recent focus on local history is integrated into long-term plans. Links to the revised curriculum, Te Whāriki, are usefully identified by the facilitator to strengthen parents' understanding of early learning. She agrees that a next step is to use these links to support evaluation of daily sessions.

Children's portfolios are up-to-date records of their significant learning, participation at playcentre, and emerging interests. The facilitator provides a good model to support others to identify and document children's learning. Best examples are well analysed to inform decisions about next learning steps. A Māori perspective is increasingly evident in learning stories. This provides for a meaningful approach to integrating place-based learning. Centre leaders agree they should continue to focus on:

  • encouraging parents to develop their skills in recording children's learning

  • showing in the portfolios how adults are progressing children's learning over time.

A relationship with the local primary school is beginning to develop. Members' next step is to develop a more purposeful partnership with school personnel to support the sharing of information about children and their learning.

Although low roll numbers remain a concern, a core group of highly committed members effectively share management roles, encouraging and supporting each other. Strong leadership and a new induction process supports members' willingness to become involved and fully participate in playcentre. The importance of continuing to increase their roll is recognised by the centre to promote sustainability.

Members have adopted a useful framework to support review and evaluation. In order to strengthen practice, consideration should be given to ensuring the process is well understood and used more effectively by the group, particularly in relation to identifying best practice outcomes and suitable evidence.

The CSW provides regular and valued feedback to support members' implementation of a suitable learning programme for children. Regular discussions and reporting promote reflection on practice and the collaborative development of new ideas.

A useful appraisal process is now in place for the facilitator that includes feedback from members about strengths and areas of practice requiring development. Consideration should be given to identifying further development goals linked to implementation of the revised Te Whāriki.

Key Next Steps

At playcentre level, the priorities are to continue to:

  • strengthen assessment processes

  • develop shared understanding and use of internal evaluation

  • work on developing members' understanding of the revised Te Whāriki

  • encourage parents' active participation in playcentre.

The association/federation priorities are to continue to strengthen:

  • the new centre support process through effective evaluation, CSW appraisal and targeted professional development opportunities

  • understanding of effective internal evaluation, including that of the CSW.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Sanson 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 a non-compliance in relation to premises and facilities. The service provider must ensure:

  • the outdoor play space is suitably surfaced

  • heavy furniture is securely attached.

[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres PF5, and PF7]

In order to improve current practice the service provider should ensure:

  • the full programme runs for the licensed hours

  • children have free access to the entire licensed space.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

11 October 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 20 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 8, Boys 2

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

11 October 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

July 2016

Supplementary Review

December 2013

Education Review

December 2012

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.