Aria Playcentre - 09/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Aria Playcentre

How well placed is Aria 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.


Aria Playcentre is a parent-led centre located in a remote rural community near Piopio. It operates under the umbrella of King Country Playcentre Association to provide education and care for children from birth to school age. Since the 2013 ERO review, the association has undergone a restructuring and, in conjunction with the New Zealand Playcentre Federation, is providing strategic direction that is guiding playcentres to focus on significant areas for development. Centre members receive ongoing support and advice from a centre support staff member employed by the association.

The centre is licensed for 25 children, including a maximum of 15 children aged up to two years. At the time of the ERO review, 20 children were enrolled, including two who are identified as Māori. This is a significant increase in roll numbers since the previous ERO review.

The centre is located on the Aria School site, and has long-term cooperative relationships with the school. The playcentre continues to be led and managed by committed parents, who collaborate to provide one morning session each week. Older children are able to attend a weekly supervised session at Piopio Playcentre. Previous ERO reports indicate that children attending Aria Playcentre have benefited from positive, trusting and responsive relationships in a well-prepared learning environment.

Aria Playcentre follows playcentre philosophy, which gives parents shared responsibility for centre management and leadership. The philosophy strongly prioritises helping parents to further develop their ability to nurture and extend children's self-initiated play and learning. The association provides parent education and professional development programmes to support the quality of playcentre programmes and centre leadership.

Since the previous ERO review the centre has made extensive changes to the outdoor playground in order to improve safety. Further planned improvements, which are scheduled for completion in the near future, have the potential to provide greater challenge and more learning opportunities, especially for older children.

This review was part of a cluster of four playcentre reviews in the King Country Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children are highly engaged in a wide range of interesting activities. They enjoy positive relationships with other children and parents. The mixed-age group allows for older children to interact in a caring way with younger children. Babies and toddlers are well catered for and included as active participants in play and exploration. Children and parents have fun together, value the time they spend at the centre, and the relationships they develop.

Parents prepare the learning environment each session to stimulate children's interest in a variety of active and creative play opportunities. They interact extensively with children, supporting the development of their oral language and social skills. Literacy experiences are provided through stories skilfully read by parents to groups of children as well as to individuals. Puzzles and construction equipment contribute to children's understanding of mathematical ideas of shape, size, colour, and proportion. The outdoor environment supports children to have experiences of the natural world and develop scientific knowledge.

Te reo and tikanga Māori is being included in the centre, and is increasing as parents build their knowledge and gain confidence in their ability to use the language correctly. Children hear karakia being said at kai time. Books, puzzles and displays feature Māori culture and language. It would be appropriate for the centre to introduce pepeha as a way of celebrating the identity of children and their families.

Parents are benefiting from their participation in playcentre parent education. Parents have completed Course One, and have begun to undertake Course Two. A more experienced parent is participating in Course Three. They are supported by the association, a long-serving experienced member and an experienced supervisor employed by the centre. Parents are building their capability to implement a soundly-based programme and recognise children's learning. By developing more focused planning and assessment practices, parents would be better placed to recognise and extend children's interests, skills and understandings.

A long-serving, well-qualified member has provided ongoing expertise and leadership for centre operations and decision making. The centre has worked to build the number of families attending to improve its sustainability. There has been a strong emphasis on developing the parent cooperative culture of the service and the capacity of new members to contribute their skills. Parents are beginning to take on roles and responsibilities and develop their relationships with the governing association.

The centre has undertaken useful self review that has identified strategies to improve aspects of planning and the quality of the environment for babies and toddlers. It has also developed a strategic plan to guide ongoing development and improvement. The centre needs to use this plan to guide their decisions and actions, and regularly track progress in reaching their goals.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation and the King Country Playcentre Association continue to provide effective governance and management for this centre. The association provides comprehensive policies and guidelines, and employs a centre support person who assists families to operate the service in the best interests of children and their parents/whānau. The benefits of this support could be made more evident if a process of formal reporting on the quality of centre programmes was introduced.

Parents in the centre have become increasingly involved in training programmes provided by the association to support them in their role as educators. Professional development opportunities are available to further develop leadership skills that contribute to the ongoing sustainability of the centre.

Key Next Steps

The centre and ERO have agreed that a next step for the centre is to develop a schedule of planned self review. These self reviews should follow the existing guidelines, which are to identify any actions needed for improvement, develop a plan to implement these actions, and monitor progress with a record of how well the desired outcomes were achieved or further changes needed.

The centre has identified the need to build parents' capability to contribute to children's portfolios by:

  • including individual children's learning stories more frequently

  • increasing the visibility of children's learning, development and progress

  • deciding what content is appropriate, relevant and valuable

  • using the information in the portfolios more effectively to guide future planning for children's learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Aria 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.

ERO found areas of non-compliance that could affect children's safety, especially if an earthquake should occur. Heavy furniture, fixtures or equipment that could fall or topple and cause serious injury or damage need to be secured.[Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, HS6]

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Aria Playcentre will be in three years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

9 June 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


Piopio, Waikato

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 15 Boys 5

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

9 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

January 2013

Education Review

December 2009

Education Review

February 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.