Waitara Playcentre - 15/08/2017

1 Evaluation of Waitara Playcentre

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Waitara Playcentre requires further development in practices, processes and health and safety systems to be well placed to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

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


Waitara Playcentre is situated in Waitara, north Taranaki. It operates four sessions a week catering for 26 children, including 15 children aged up to two years. Many families are new to the centre since the April 2014 ERO report.

The playcentre is one of 17 parent-led early learning services administered by the Taranaki Playcentre Association (the association). A management team of elected volunteers implements the directives of playcentre governance and provides the adult education programme, guidance and support for members.

Centre supporters are employed by the association to regularly visit playcentres. Their role is to provide professional advice and feedback to strengthen practice and promote improvement. Responsibility for day-to-day operation is undertaken by centre-elected office holders. Parents share the duties associated with implementing the daily programme.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation is planning a significant restructure in 2017 that includes amalgamating associations. Playcentres will become part of a regional hub, supported by a regional manager and support persons.

The previous ERO report for Waitara Playcentre identified that development to assessment, planning, self review and the quality of interactions was needed. Progress in responding to the first two areas has been limited, however the quality of interactions is improving. These feature as key next steps in this report.

This review was part of a cluster of seven playcentre reviews in the Taranaki Playcentre Association. 

The Review Findings

The association philosophy of parent-led education and child-initiated play is valued by centre members and reflected in practice. The principles and strands of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum underpin practice to promote positive outcomes for children. A commitment to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi is evident across the organisation.

Children settle into activities of interest and are confident to approach others. Their independence is encouraged. Relationships are warm and affirming which assists children's and families' sense of belonging.

There are a good range of resources for children to make choices and sustain their involvement in play. ERO saw examples of children working together well. Tuakana teina relationships are evident.

There have been recent developments to processes that guide adults to notice, recognise and respond to children's learning. Ongoing improvement of these systems is needed to better show children's progress over time.

There is an increased focus on celebrating and making visible aspects of te ao Māori. This includes strengthening links to mana whenua and connections in the wider community. Some members effectively model the use of te reo Māori to support others to grow their practice.

Adults are at the early stages of using internal evaluation to improve outcomes for children's learning. The process continues to be an area to develop. This practice should include showing the impact of adults’ practices and learning on children’s outcomes.

There have been recent efforts to review and update some of the playcentre policies. Some policies still require review to meet the current regulatory requirements. The association should support centre members to address these areas and ensure they meet all current legislative requirements.

A core group of members are working together to respond to developments needed. Continuing to involve all members in supporting playcentre operations remains an ongoing focus.

The association's Māori representative of Puriri Whakamaru o Taranaki, supports centre members to gain further understandings of te ao Māori. This aspect is developing well as an integral part of the curriculum. Association and centre leaders should use strategic planning and internal evaluation to ensure the good practice occurring is sustained and continues to be built on.

The centre support person provides useful written reports on centre environmental developments and programme practices. These have a focus on outcomes for children and identification of next steps for centre members to improve teaching and learning.

Appraisal for centre supporters requires strengthening. This process, to enhance outcomes for children and their families, should: include more focused goals that build their capability; and provide more regular and targeted feedback and feed forward about supportive practices. 

Key Next Steps

The association should continue to support centre members to:

  • improve their understanding of the legislative and regulatory requirements of a licensed early learning service

  • strengthen assessment, planning and evaluation processes

  • grow members' understanding and use of internal evaluation practices.

The association should:

  • improve appraisal for the centre support people to respond to individual needs and identify professional development to grow them in their leadership roles

  • continue to build centre support staff knowledge and capability to undertake effective internal evaluation.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Waitara 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.

In order to improve practice the association needs to ensure that:

  • adults supervise at all times when children are eating

  • there is a record of the time each child attending the service sleeps, and checks made by adults during that time. [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008 - Health and Safety Criterion 22 and 9]

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to governance, and health and safety practices. Since the on-site phase of the review the playcentre has addressed the outdoor fencing to ensure that the activity space is enclosed so children are not able to leave the premises without the knowledge of adults providing education and care.

To meet requirements, the service needs to improve its performance in the following area:

  • ensure that the service is effectively governed and managed in accordance with good management practices.

Development Plan Recommendation

ERO recommends that the service consult with the Ministry of Education and plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Waitara Playcentre will be within two years.

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

15 August 2017 

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 


Waitara, New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

26 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 9, Girls 6

Ethnic composition



Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

15 August 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

April 2014

Education Review

November 2010

Supplementary Review

February 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.