Dargaville Playcentre - 17/11/2017

1 Evaluation of Dargaville Playcentre

How well placed is Dargaville 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.


Dargaville Playcentre offers two sessions each week, for up to 30 children from birth to school age. Approximately one third of the children currently enrolled have Māori heritage. In addition, SPACE Northland facilitators offer one session each week for a group of parents and their infants. In the past two years there has been a significant growth in centre membership.

The Playcentre philosophy values parents/whānau as the first and best educators of their children. They take on roles and responsibilities that contribute to the running of the centre. This structure offers opportunities for emergent leadership.

The centre is part of the Northland Playcentre Association, which provides governance and management support for 31 Playcentres in Northland. The Association provides systems and adult education programmes to help members manage centres and support their children's learning. A centre support worker (CSW) regularly visits each centre. The Association also provides education support for five Playcentres in the Far North.

Playcentre Aotearoa is in the process of a national restructure. It is expected that a new regional manager and centre support personnel will be appointed towards the end of 2017.

ERO's 2015 report identified that curriculum and internal evaluation systems required improvement. Professional development from an external provider, and guidance from Association staff, have supported current members to respond positively to ERO's recommendations.

This review was part of a cluster of 10 Playcentre reviews in the Northland Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children at Dargaville Playcentre are confident to explore and choose from a range of available resources. They play well alongside each other and in small groups. There is a quiet space and specific equipment provided for infants. These younger children are well supported to participate in experiences with older children.

The repainted indoor environment is stimulating and inviting. It provides children with many opportunities to participate in creative and imaginative play. Children make very good use of the outdoor area to develop their physical skills and engage in collaborative learning. There are plans to further upgrade the indoor space and outdoor area.

Parents/whānau provide a play-based programme that is responsive to children's interests and reflects Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. Adults support children's play, are aware of their preferences and provide experiences that promote hands-on learning. ERO observed some good examples of adults asking questions to encourage children to share their ideas with others.

Parents/whānau have improved how they assess and plan for children's learning. They record what they notice about children's interests and experiences in a daybook. Children's individual interests are documented, and some adults skilfully assess children's learning. Experienced members could now work alongside newer members to build their knowledge of planning and assessment practices.

The centre is well led by a group of experienced and enthusiastic members. They have a clear vision for the future direction of the centre. The deliberate strategy of two adults sharing each centre role is building members' knowledge of operational systems. This effective approach helps to sustain members' knowledge and skills over time. Internal evaluation processes are focused on centre improvement. A detailed annual plan is used well for monitoring the implementation of actions to achieve centre priorities.

Programme documentation shows that SPACE Northland facilitators plan flexible programmes to support parents' and infants' learning. As the SPACE programme progresses, facilitators explain the learning that happens as part of infants' play experiences. They foster parents' increased understanding of young children's learning very well. Day-book and individual assessment records show parents' increasing knowledge as they begin to record what they notice about their children's learning.

The centre support worker (CSW) is aware of the strengths and needs of the centre. Her support helps members to foster positive learning outcomes for children. The CSW provides good leadership to sustain improvement and growth. Members appreciate that the CSW is available to answer their questions and share information that adds to their collective knowledge.

The Association continues to provide a sound management framework to assist members in managing their centres. Centre members' leadership and increased participation in adult education courses help to sustain the Association and centre viability. The governance board works collaboratively to share information with centre members as they respond to changes, including the national restructure.

Key Next Steps

Next steps for centre members are to:

  • develop their knowledge of tikanga and use of te reo Māori and to affirm tamariki Māori as tangata whenua
  • support the inclusion of the languages and cultures of all children at the centre
  • continue to improve the quality of planning, assessment and evaluation records.

To enhance practices in Northland Playcentres, the new regional manager and support personnel should assist centre members to:

  • build their knowledge of te ao Māori, increase their bicultural understandings, and promote ongoing education success for Māori children, as Māori
  • document and evaluate progress towards strategic goals
  • strengthen internal evaluation to guide ongoing improvement.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

17 November 2017

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


Dargaville, Northland

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 12 Boys 8

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent led

Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

17 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2015

Education Review

August 2010

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.