Wakefield Playcentre - 18/10/2019

1 Evaluation of Wakefield Playcentre

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

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

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


Wakefield Playcentre is one of 78 playcentres in the upper South Island region. It operates for five morning sessions each week and is licensed for 30 children, including up to 15 aged up to two years. Most children are enrolled for at least three days each week. Many parents and caregivers (members) are new to the centre and Playcentre philosophy.

At the time of its 2015 ERO review the centre was one of 13 administered by the Nelson Playcentre Association, under the umbrella of The New Zealand Playcentre Federation Inc. In June of 2019, the 32 associations nationwide amalgamated into one new entity, a charitable trust, Playcentre Aotearoa, (the organisation). Nelson playcentres are now managed as part of a regional hub of the new organisation.

A centre support worker (CSW), employed by the organisation, regularly visits the playcentre and provides professional advice and feedback to strengthen the programme for children. A centre administrator (CA) works with members to support compliance with regulations. Day-to-day management is the role of centre-elected office holders. Two paid session facilitators with recognised levels of training provide ongoing support for the implementation of the daily programme.

Playcentre philosophy recognises the importance of parents working together, alongside their children, to support their self-initiated play and promote their learning.

The May 2015 ERO report identified the bicultural programme, parents' involvement in assessment and self review as areas for improvement. In addition, the Nelson Playcentre Association had several key next steps to address.

This review is one of a cluster of five in Playcentre Aotearoa, Nelson region.

The Review Findings

The daily programme is largely child led with adults providing activities to provoke interest, new ideas and investigation. Children's choices, creativity and self-expression are valued and encouraged. Aspects of literacy, mathematics and science are introduced in play-based ways. Provision for infants and toddlers is well developed. Children are settled, cooperative and independent learners.

Children benefit from the wide range of learning experiences provided. Well-organised areas of play promote their interest and participation. The expansive outdoor play space is equipped to promote adventure and challenge. Regular excursions extend the learning environment. Children enjoy the opportunities provided. Many sustain their play for long periods.

Children's needs and emerging interests form the basis of the planned programme. The centre's approach to assessment is led and mostly implemented by the session facilitators. However, all parents' active involvement is expected and strongly encouraged. To strengthen assessment the CSW and session facilitators should prioritise:

  • supporting parents to identify, respond to and record their children's learning

  • facilitating and recording children's progress over time

  • acknowledgement of te ao Māori in children's profile books

  • response to parents' aspirations for their children's learning.

To further improve the programme for children, members and the CSW should work together to identify the learning that matters in their community and develop their understanding of the revised early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki.

Guidelines are in place to help playcentre members successfully support children's transitions to primary school. A strong reciprocal relationship is in place with the local school. Members should now seek ways of best sharing information with new entrant teachers about individual children's learning to further improve their transition.

Members agree that the organisations acknowledgement of the importance of bicultural partnership has yet to be adequately reflected in centre practice. This should remain a strategic priority for the new organisation.

A core group of members and the session facilitators are working alongside the CSW to provide strong support for this parent collective. A real sense of community is evident. Nelson-based CSWs are receiving targeted professional learning and development from the organisation linked to regional priorities for improvement. A more constructive approach to CSW support for centres, including reporting that is more responsive to needs, is in the early stages of implementation.

An appraisal process is in place to support the development of the CSW and session facilitators' practice. Implementation of the process should be strengthened to ensure there is sufficient rigour in goal setting, observations of practice and feedback. The CA should have the opportunity to participate in an appraisal process and targeted training opportunities.

A comprehensive range of Nelson Playcentre Association policies continue to support centre operation. Many are past their review date and no longer reflect current legislation. New policy guidelines, developed by the organisation in 2018, are about to be adopted at centre level. These should support shared understanding of the new organisation's expectations and accountabilities.

Self review is valued and a regular part of practice. Implementation of internal evaluation is being strongly supported by the organisation. Understanding and use of this more improvement-focused approach is at an early stage at this centre. In addition, the format of the annual plan should be further developed, including strengthening links to ongoing internal evaluation.

The restructure of Playcentre operation is being carefully worked through to support a new and more sustainable future for the organisation. The regional office provides a range of valuable support including a new role designed to redistribute the management of compliance and administration. There is also improved assistance for members to implement curriculum, internal evaluation, adult education, and manage marketing and property matters. Leaders report that recent changes are already resulting in increased collaboration between centres and interest in Playcentre philosophy.

Key Next Steps

ERO and regional leaders agree that the organisation should continue to prioritise:

  • support for the CSW and session facilitators to promote playcentre members' understanding of programme planning and evaluation, internal evaluation, te ao Māori and implementation of a bicultural curriculum

  • development of CSW support and reporting

  • review and further development of the appraisal process for the CSWs and session facilitators.

The continuing focus on strengthening leadership, growing a sense of community, parent participation and collaboration between playcentres should continue.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Wakefield 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.

To improve current practice, the service provider should ensure that the centre has a complete set of up-to-date policy guidelines which members are supported to implement. Currently hazard and emergency management practices, risk assessment for excursions, and the administration of medication process do not match all the requirements of the new policies. In addition, the following need attention:

  • clarify police vetting requirements for centre administration personnel
  • ensure the impact surfacing under children's swings is kept at the required depth.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

18 October 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

30 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 21, Girls 17

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

July 2018

Date of this report

18 October 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2015

Education Review

April 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

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.