Whitford Playcentre - 29/08/2018

1 Evaluation of Whitford Playcentre

How well placed is Whitford 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.


Whitford Playcentre is a parent-led cooperative, in a semi-rural setting. The centre is guided by a clear vision of being 'a supportive and nurturing community, committed to providing a complete child-led early childhood education for whānau'. Centre practices are based on the Playcentre philosophy of whānau and children learning and growing together.

Centre members have good levels of Playcentre adult education qualifications and are supported well by experienced regional Playcentre personnel. The centre provides five mixed-age sessions each week. A centre support worker (CSW) meets regularly with centre members and provides assistance where needed. The centre also benefits from the support of a licensing support worker (LSW) who helps parents to implement programmes. A centre member has the role of bicultural officer and represents Māori whānau to ensure their voice is heard and reflected throughout the centre.

ERO's 2015 report noted that there were high quality interactions among adults and children, individual children's interests were well documented, and children experienced a well-resourced learning environment that supported their belonging and wellbeing. These positive aspects are still very evident. Areas for development included observations of mathematics learning, refining self review and developing innovative ways to support adult education and leadership. Centre members have made excellent progress in addressing these areas.

Playcentre Aotearoa is in the process of restructuring, moving from 32 Associations to six regional offices. The Auckland region includes 45 centres from the former Auckland, Tamaki and Counties Playcentre Associations. A regional manager oversees governance, management and administration and has a team of staff to support individual centres. Centre whānau and regional staff are in a period of transition. Regional staff are helping whānau as they adapt to new systems and responsibilities.

This review was part of a cluster of six Playcentre reviews in the Auckland region.

The Review Findings

The Playcentre philosophy of parents/whānau learning, playing and growing together is strongly enacted. Respectful relationships provide a sound foundation for supporting children's wellbeing. Infants, toddlers and older children experience a well-resourced and spacious environment. They benefit from long periods of uninterrupted play where learning is unhurried. Infants and toddlers explore and play alongside older children.

As kaiako, whānau are affirming, nurturing and inclusive of all children. They are good role models for children, promoting language, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Kaiako know children's individual interests and use this information to co-construct the programme. They work skilfully alongside children and extend their learning in meaningful ways.

Centre members are committed to strengthening the bicultural nature of the programme and to building capability in te reo and tikanga Māori. They place importance on recognising Māori as tangata whenua, and are culturally responsive to children and families.

Centre members have recently introduced a deliberate and successful strategy to build a deeper and richer picture of individual children. The 'child of the day' Focus on Learning and Development (FOLD) encourages all kaiako to spend some time during the session with that child. End-of-session evaluations include discussing that child's specific interests and learning to inform future planning.

Assessment, planning and evaluation processes contribute effectively to programmes planned for individuals and groups of children. Individual children's 'kete' hold current learning stories and a daily record of each child's interests and learning. Kaiako report very positive feedback from this initiative, which maintains the focus on knowing the child. Portfolios record a variety of learning experiences and provide very good information about children as they transition to school. Centre members agree that learning stories could be strengthened by making the child's voice more explicit.

Strategic, planned and spontaneous internal evaluation contributes to a culture of ongoing improvement. Emphasis is placed on deepening adults' knowledge and building professional practice through individual adult strengths and skills.

The centre's strategic direction is well documented. Relevant and manageable goals align well with the annual plan. This 'living document' is monitored regularly and informs decision making. Careful consideration is given to how members implement succession planning strategies.

Collaborative leadership provides opportunities for all centre members to extend and share their knowledge and skills. Newly appointed regional personnel are making progress building on existing systems and establishing regional management structures for supporting centres. Centre support workers are guided by regional centre support coordinators. Systems are being developed for monitoring the quality of programmes for children, adult education levels, and health and safety requirements.

The regional management team takes responsibility for specific tasks relating to the effective operation of individual centres. The team is aware of the unique strengths and needs of each centre and provides professional leadership to sustain improvement, growth and the focus on fostering positive learning outcomes for children.

Key Next Steps

To enhance existing high quality practices, centre members agree that they could continue to:

  • focus on the adult education programme for centre members

  • find ways to document their evaluative thinking as part of internal evaluation processses

  • implement succession planning strategies.

In order to improve and strengthen practice, the regional leaders should continue to:

  • revisit the commitment to Te Tiriti partnership, and to increase bicultural understandings and the integration of te reo me ōna tikanga Māori in centre practices

  • clarify and upskill centre support roles

  • build regional office capability to embed new adult education programmes and qualifications

  • improve the understanding and use of internal evaluation as a tool to guide practices

  • develop, evaluate and report against regional long-term and annual action plans that align with goals for improvement at national and regional levels

  • embed the new Playcentre structure and systems and evaluate how effectively they support all children, including Pacific children and children with additional needs.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Whitford 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 Whitford Playcentre will be in four years.

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

29 August 2018

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


Whitford, Auckland

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 16 Boys 12

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent Led

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

29 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2015

Education Review

February 2011

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.