Te Akau & Districts Playcentre - 10/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Te Akau & Districts Playcentre

How well placed is Te Akau & Districts 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.


Te Akau Playcentre is an early childhood service run by a parent cooperative and operates under the umbrella of the Waikato Playcentre Association (WPA). It serves a rural community and is situated adjacent to Te Akau Primary School. The centre runs two sessions a week for children from birth to school age. Since the 2012 ERO review, significant funding has been sourced to upgrade the environment and resources.

The playcentre is licensed for 25 children with a maximum of 15 under two years of age. The current roll is 18 and 10 who are identified as Māori. A number of new families have enrolled in the playcentre. A strategic priority for the playcentre is to increase the number of children and families enrolled.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation and the WPA continue to provide effective governance, strategic direction, management support and adult education programmes for the centre. This support and training is underpinned by the WPA philosophy 'Whānau tupu ngātahi - families growing together'.

The association’s strategic commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi is evident in its bicultural leadership model. High value is placed on productive partnerships with Māori whānau, and funding is made available for related professional development. The association’s commitment to Ka Hikitia has resulted in clear expectations for continuing to build members’ understanding, confidence and competence in te ao Māori.

The playcentre has a positive reporting history with ERO and effectively responded to areas for development identified in the 2012 report.

The centre philosophy states that, 'parents are educators, we play, learn and grow together, respect and nurture each other'. The playcentre philosophy is highly evident at all levels of centre operations.

This review was part of a cluster of 8 reviews in the Waikato Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

A strength of the playcentre is the sense of belonging to a supportive family-focused community experienced by children and their whānau. Parents, especially those new to the area, appreciated the welcoming and inclusive environment for them and their children. Affirming relationships based on mutual trust and acceptance are highly evident among adults and children. Adults take a communal approach to responding to the physical and emotional needs of all children, which currently include a high proportion of new born babies. They are highly responsive to individual needs and rhythms of children especially babies and toddlers who are able to play and explore alongside their whānau.

Children are encouraged to initiate their own play and follow their interests. They have ongoing access to an extensive range of high quality, age-appropriate resources both in the indoor and outdoor play areas. Babies and toddlers are effectively supported in their play by interested adults and older siblings. The indoor area provides attractive spaces for creative and imaginative play, and the promotion of early literacy skills and a love of stories. The construction area and comprehensive puzzle selection fosters early mathematical skills.

Innovative developments in the outdoor areas invite children's exploration and interaction with the natural world. Children and their families are involved with the plantings and care of the fruit trees, native plants and vegetable garden. The harvesting, cooking and eating of produce is a popular element in the programme. Healthy eating and physical activity is actively encouraged. There are many opportunities for problem solving and physical challenges that promote risk taking in a safe environment. The programme is responsive to individual children's needs and this promotes extended periods of uninterrupted play and sustained learning opportunities.

A feature of the playcentre is the close partnership with the adjoining primary school. There are regular exchanges between playcentre children and students at the school. These experiences stimulate and extend children's learning opportunities, and build confidence for their transition to school.

All adults are currently engaged in playcentre education programmes that empowers them to be well-informed, first educators of their children. The high ratio of adults to children ensures quality learning conversations where rich oral language is modelled and shared. Adults demonstrate an increasing confidence in their use of te reo Māori in the daily programme, and this supports and affirms Māori children's language, identity and culture. Individual learning portfolio's record an outline of each child's involvement in the programme.

Leadership of the programme and operations is shared by the whānau cooperative. This provides a rich variety of challenging and worthwhile experiences for the adults involved, who receive both encouragement and professional support from the association. Leaders promote and model healthy nutrition and positive attitudes to physical activity, which reflects an holistic approach to wellbeing.

Key Next Steps

A useful next step is for parents to strengthen the planning and assessment process in learning stories to show more clearly how they add complexity to children's ideas and interests over time. This is likely to improve their ability to effectively evaluate the programme and further enhance the learning opportunities for children. Support for this should be provided by the CSW and includes sharing examples of best practice.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Te Akau & Districts 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 Te Akau & Districts Playcentre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

10 June 2016

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


Te Akau

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

25 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 6 Boys 12

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

10 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

December 2012

Education Review

November 2006

Education Review

December 2002

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.