Whitianga Playcentre - 13/10/2016

1 Evaluation of Whitianga Playcentre

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

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Whitianga Playcentre requires further development related to leadership, governance, curriculum, assessment and self review. This is necessary to promote a quality early childhood service. During the review ERO identified areas in the centre's strategic planning, self review and assessment practices that require significant improvement.

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


Whitianga Playcentre is a parent-led, early childhood service located in the town of Whitianga. It is the only playcentre in Whitianga and provides three morning sessions each week for the education and care of 34 children, including 12 under the age of two years. Three of these children are of Māori descent.

Whitianga Playcentre is one of 13 centres governed by the umbrella organisation known as Thames Valley/Coromandel Playcentre Association (TVCPA) affiliated to the New Zealand Playcentre Federation. The centres in this association cover a wide geographical area which presents challenges for both the governance/management body and individual centres.

The previous ERO report identified the need to develop and identify clear criteria to review:

  • the integration of literacy, mathematics and science in the programme and learning environment

  • the integration of te reo Māori, and other children's languages and cultures

  • the quality of assessment, planning and evaluation practices

  • children's independent access to equipment and displays of learning.

Centre parents acknowledge that these continue to be areas of ongoing challenge for the centre.

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

The Review Findings

Children are able to follow their own interests, and are supported to make their own choices and develop independence. They have ready access to an extensive variety of resources, both inside and outside, that cater for different age groups. Children are engaged in a wide range of play and activity.

Current position holders take responsibility to undertake key roles for centre organisation and the day-to-day operations. Only one parent has obtained appropriate playcentre qualifications that meet Ministry of Education supervision requirements for licensing.

Children and their parents/whānau are increasingly developing a sense of ownership and belonging at the centre. The spacious outdoor area offers scope for exploration and discovery in a natural environment and there are appropriate resources available for children. Indoors, children have the opportunity to play games, enjoy stories and puzzles, and engage in creative activities.

The Thames Valley/Coromandel Playcentre Association aims to promote parent membership and provides policies and procedures to support centre operations. At the time of this ERO review the association was in the process of considering changes to the governance and management structure of the organisation. This is likely to present an opportunity for further review and improvement to communication and support for centres. The liaison officer visits regularly to monitor compliance, provide feedback about centre practices, and is establishing more positive relationships with centre leadership and parents.

A challenge for this centre is its isolated location and the distance needed to travel to attend meetings and association workshops. A small number of parents are working towards making a positive difference. However, there is still much work to be done to bring the centre up to the standard required to ensure that children and their families learn and play in a high quality learning environment. The centre and ERO agreed that external support would be beneficial for the playcentre to change and improve centre operations.

Key Next Steps

Centre members and ERO acknowledge the need to:

  • foster parent education and understanding of playcentre practices and expectations

  • grow parent confidence in developing high quality learning interactions, planning and assessment practice that reflects current best practice in early childhood education

  • continue to develop the confidence of centre members to include aspects of Māori culture and language in the centre programme

  • develop a strategic and annual plan, and establish robust self-review processes to bring about improvement.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Whitianga 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

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to management, leadership and self-review as follows: 

  1. Annual planning that identifies who, what, when and where in relation to key tasks undertaken each year.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA8.]
  2. Self-review processes to include a schedule showing timelines for planned review and recorded outcomes from the review process.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, GMA6.]
  3. Documentation that provides evidence of a planned, implemented and evaluated curriculum. 
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, C2.]
  4. Implement documented hazard identification and management system.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, Criterion HS12.]
  5. Maintain an accident, illness and injury register.
    [Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, Criterion HS25] 

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 Whitianga Playcentre will be within two years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

13 October 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


Whitianga, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

27 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 15 Boys 13

Ethnic composition







Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

13 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2013

Education Review

May 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.