Westport Playcentre - 18/08/2016

1 Evaluation of Westport Playcentre

How well placed is Westport 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.


Westport Playcentre is a long-established, parent-led early childhood education service in Westport. The centre provides three morning sessions each week for children up to school age. It also provides an afternoon SPACE session (Supporting Parents Alongside Children's Education). This session is especially planned to support first-time parents and their babies. The centre roll has fluctuated due to changes in employment opportunities, however numbers are beginning to rise again. Currently about 10 to 15 children attend the morning sessions. 

The sessions are led by paid team leaders and playcentre members who are gaining playcentre qualifications by being involved in the adult-education training programme provided by the association.

Westport Playcentre is one of nine playcentres within the Buller/Westland Playcentre Association. Three of these playcentres operate as certified playgroups. The association is made up of a very small group of dedicated paid and elected members. The association provides a framework for centre management and operations, as well as parent education programmes and personnel to support centre members.

The Buller/Westland Playcentre Association is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Federation to reduce duplication and make cost savings. This restructure will mean significant changes at the local association level.

ERO's 2012 report noted a number of areas for review and development. These included strategic and annual planning, self review, assessment and the bicultural programme. ERO found improvements in most of these areas. Assessment practices still require further development.

This review was part of a cluster of five playcentre reviews in the Buller/Westland Playcentre Association. 

The Review Findings

The programmes that the team leaders and centre members provide for children are underpinned by the overarching playcentre philosophy of whānau and children learning together in an enjoyable and nurturing learning environment. Centre members have very recently begun to think about the values that are important to them to guide them as they work with children. The next step is for them to develop a philosophy specifically for the Westport Playcentre that includes these important values and their agreed desired learning outcomes for their children.

Children and their families show a sense of belonging to Westport Playcentre. Centre members have made a deliberate effort to make the playcentre a welcoming place, especially for new families. Children settle quickly on arrival. They play with and alongside each other and independently make choices about what they want to do.

The parents and team leaders follow the children's play and interests. They are guided by the team leader during the pre-session discussion to think of ways to build and extend children's ideas. They work respectfully and attentively with their own and other children. Centre members use the written prompts on display to speak a little te reo Māori with the children. They nurture tuakana-teina relationships by the way they include older and younger children in the sessions. A shared kai time prepared by a community volunteer brings children and adults together. The adults encourage children to lead the karakia and use this time to introduce children to items of curiosity or wonder.

Other positive aspects of the programme that support children's learning and development include:

  • opportunities for sustained and imaginative play
  • well-resourced and inviting play areas
  • a range of experiences that foster creativity and exploration
  • music and movement
  • a focus on the natural and living world.

Babies are well provided for. There is a range of interesting resources and a separate safe area for them to play.

Centre members are involved in professional development to improve assessment planning and evaluation practices. All members need to continue to build their knowledge and grow their confidence with this. In particular they need to ensure that:

  • all children have learning goals and regular stories written for them
  • stories show the learning that is occurring or being supported through the activities
  • they find ways to build continuity between the sessions so children may revisit and deepen their learning.

Some parents are actively involved in the adult-education programme. It is important that the playcentre finds ways to encourage more members to participate in this training as the sessions rely on parent educators who hold playcentre training.

Centre self review (internal evaluation) has brought about many useful improvements. The process of self review would be improved by using an evaluative question and relevant indicators at all stages of the evaluation.

The playcentre has an annual action plan designed to ensure the smooth running of the playcentre. This is a well-thought-out document, giving members clear direction for the year.

The Buller/Westland Playcentre Association has a strategic plan to help guide the association work. This, along with each playcentre's annual action plan, should be more formally monitored. Currently the association provides a policy framework for all the playcentres. This will change as the playcentres merge under Playcentre Aotearoa next year. Some policies and procedures within the association need immediate development to give better guidance to playcentres. These include:

  • developing robust guidelines and procedures for internal evaluation (self review)
  • embedding the learning from recent Playcentre Federation professional  learning
  • developing clearer guidelines for assessment, planning and evaluation
  • ensuring each playcentre's philosophy includes its community's shared values, beliefs and desired outcomes for its children.

Key Next Steps

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation, the current Buller/Westland Playcentre Association, playcentre team leaders and parents need to continue to:

  • develop a Westport Playcentre philosophy
  • continue to improve and embed assessment, planning and evaluation practices
  • refine aspects of self review (internal evaluation)
  • increase the levels of parent involvement in the adult-education programme
  • find ways to monitor progress against the strategic and annual plans to show how well these are supporting and contributing to the Association's and the Playcentre Federation's vision and goals.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

18 August 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 



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

Girls: 18

Boys:  9

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49%       50-79%       80%

Based on funding rates

Parent Led

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Meets minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

18 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

June 2012

Education Review

March 2008

Education Review

May 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.