Te Aroha Playcentre - 14/04/2016

1 Evaluation of Te Aroha Playcentre

How well placed is Te Aroha 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 Aroha Playcentre is a parent cooperative early childhood service operating under the umbrella of the Thames Valley/Coromandel Playcentre Association (TVCPA).The centre is licensed to cater for 30 children including up to 15 children under two years of age. Currently there are two sessions per week catering for 20 children from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The centre is located on spacious, attractive and well-maintained grounds near to the town centre. Centre members are cooperative and dedicated to maintaining this long-established, whanau-based early childhood service in the community. There is generational involvement from some families. Playcentre families maintain supportive and reciprocal relationships with local primary schools and community.

Since 2013 TVCPA has undergone a complete restructuring. It has employed key personnel to undertake the day-to-day management of the association and centres. This change has allowed the governance board to plan more strategically, effectively manage their finances, property, personnel and health and safety requirements. There are 13 centres in the association covering a wide geographical area that presents challenges for both the governance/management body and individual centres. 

Centre members have made good progress with addressing the areas for improvement identified in the 2013 ERO report related to strategic planning, extending learning for older children and displays that support children to revisit their learning. Adults are committed to ongoing playcentre training and course work and many recently participated in learning about integrating concepts of literacy and numeracy in the early childhood programme.

The centre philosophy aims to provide a whanau-based service that will empower children and adults to work, play and learn alongside each other.

This review was part of a cluster of six playcentre reviews in the Thames Valley/Coromandel Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Thames Valley/Coromandel Playcentre Association provide effective and responsive governance and management for the centre. The centre philosophy is highly evident and well enacted at Te Aroha Playcentre. Children are actively engaged in an interesting programme that promotes their independence as confident learners. They make choices from a wide range of good quality equipment in a spacious and imaginative environment. There is continuity of learning between the home and centre as they learn alongside their parents and other supportive adults who know them well.

Children demonstrate high levels of trust and enjoyment as they sustain their play with children of mixed ages. Infants and toddlers benefit from the care of their parents during sessions, there are quiet, comfortable spaces that support breastfeeding mothers. Older children are caring and encouraging of their younger friends and include them in play. Younger children are inspired by watching and participating alongside older children.

A particular strength of the playcentre is the high ratio of enthusiastic adults available to interact with children. They consistently engage in learning conversations with children that extend their thinking and problem solving skills, and build their knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Adults recognise and respond to children's interests and enrich their learning through planned activities, trips and excursions into the wider community. There is a particular emphasis on the natural world with some parents skilled at working with children to learn about the local environment. Children and adults benefit from the ongoing training and fostering of emergent leadership.

Adults work together to document assessment and planning in attractive displays and individual profile books. They are building their understanding of this process as they attend TVCPA course work and are well supported by more experienced members. Children enjoy revisiting these well-presented and interesting records of their experiences and successes at the centre. Children who have attended the centre since birth have comprehensive information about their progress and development. Each session is carefully evaluated as a group exercise. The information documented from this evaluation identifies children's interests and supports planning for ongoing learning.

The programme includes opportunities for children to socialise, share kai together and learn to honour aspects of tikanga Māori practices. A recent celebration of Matariki attracted a large number of interested families and whanau to a shared hangi.

Children and adults from other cultures are warmly included in the life of the centre, they show a strong sense of wellbeing and belonging. Giving further attention to acknowledging their unique languages and identity in the centre programme, environment and individual profile books will enrich the early childhood experience for all members and strengthen their contribution and enjoyment.

Centre leaders are knowledgeable and experienced. They have established effective support systems and succession planning to sustain centre organisation. A clear strategic plan provides the framework to support the centre to meet their goals, priorities and regulatory requirements. Self review is strategic and focused on development and improvement. While some challenges arise from a recent increase in new members, leaders are skilled at taking time to induct them into the complexities of a parent cooperative. Members report that children are well prepared for further learning as they transition to school.

A particular strength of the centre is the ongoing mentoring, support and guidance from a dedicated and experienced liaison officer. She visits the centre regularly, is available for advice and information sharing, and provides members with documented and relevant feedback which is contributing to centre sustainability and improvement.

Key Next Steps

ERO and centre members agree that continuing to promote the benefits of this cooperative early childhood service in the community should attract and retain new members and contribute to the centre's viability and sustainability.

Some members have knowledge of local tribal history and stories of the surroundings area, including Mount Te Aroha. There are plans for initiating relationships with iwi at the nearby marae. There would be benefit for this knowledge to be more widely shared and meaningfully integrated into the life of the centre. Centre members should now focus on continuing to build their confidence and competence in using te reo more consistently in their conversations with children.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

14 April 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 Aroha, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

30 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 12 Girls 8

Ethnic composition









Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

14 April 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2013

Education Review

February 2010

Education Review

June 2007

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.