Sawyers Bay Playcentre - 04/04/2019

1 Evaluation of Sawyers Bay Playcentre

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

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

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


Sawyers Bay Playcentre is open for three mornings each week for children from birth-to-school age. Most parents attend with their child. A parent council oversees the day-to-day running of the playcentre. Parents also have the support of a volunteer session facilitator.

This long-established playcentre is one of 47 in the recently formed South Island Southern Region (SISR) hub under the New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF). A centre support worker (CSW) regularly visits and provides support. The playcentre organisation is nearing the end of an extensive restructure and review. From 2019, all playcentres will be part of a national group known as Playcentre Aotearoa.

This review was one of four in SISR Playcentres.

The Review Findings

The children who attend Sawyers Bay benefit from the work of a core group of highly capable parents with a clear vision for the service and the ability to collaborate well to achieve it. Families are warmly welcomed and their involvement valued. Experienced parents share their skills and knowledge to support other parents to provide what is best for their children.

The centre is well organised and the indoor and outdoor environments are thoughtfully presented to attract children’s interest. Children settle quickly on arrival and play for sustained periods of time, enjoying the wide range of resources, equipment and activities. Babies and young children have easy access to a range of resources and experiences to support their learning and development.

The high parent to child ratio enables quality one-on-one interactions. Adults know the children very well and are responsive to their interests, strengths and needs. They support children to be independent, and develop good social skills and friendships. They also maximise incidental moments to foster children's oral language and extend their thinking. Strengths in the programme include frequent opportunities for physical exploration and dramatic play. The facilitator uses group experiences to role model high quality interactions and useful strategies to promote and extend learning.

Increasing number of parents are involved in assessment, planning and evaluation. Most parents have set learning goals for their children. These goals are displayed so that all adults contribute to all children's learning. Some goals could be more specific so that parents can more easily identify the strategies they will use to achieve the goal. Making learning goals more visible in learning stories will help parents to better track their child's progress against the goals.

Parents are becoming familiar with Te Whāriki (2017), the early childhood curriculum. They use this to guide group planning. A next step is to more clearly identify this playcentre's key priorities for children’s learning. Other priorities are bicultural development and strengthening responsiveness to other cultures in the playcentre.

The parent council are very focused on ongoing improvement. They regularly reflect on centre practices and are developing effective internal evaluation practices. The philosophy has been reviewed. The beliefs that underpin practice are clearly stated and evident in practice.

The parent council know their next steps for development and improvement. They have developed a useful strategic plan with relevant and achievable goals.

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.

Key Next Steps

Most of the next steps for the playcentre have been self-identified. ERO and the parents agree that these include the need to:

  • identify the playcentre's key learning priorities
  • continue to encourage and support parents' participation in education training and involvement with playcentre processes and decision making
  • strengthen bicultural practice, the integration of Maori perspectives and te reo in the programme
  • continue to develop internal evaluation practices and the schedule for reviewing.

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 Sawyers Bay 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

4 April 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 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 10, Girls 2

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified staff

Facilitator (qualified ECE teacher) and parent led (with range of playcentre qualifications)

Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2019

Date of this report

4 April 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

February 2014

Supplementary Review

July 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.