Dunsandel Playcentre - 02/03/2017

1 Evaluation of Dunsandel Playcentre

How well placed is Dunsandel 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.


Dunsandel Playcentre operates under the guidance of the Canterbury Playcentre Association. The playcentre is a parent cooperative with parents being encouraged to be involved in all aspects of the programme and playcentre management.

Dunsandel Playcentre is a small rural centre. It is situated across the road from the local school and is open for one session per week.

The community has become increasingly transient and culturally diverse due to changes in employment in the local area.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the centre has had a significant decline in the roll. This has made it very difficult for the current small number of parents to meet all the recommendations in the last ERO report. This includes parent participation and building parents' knowledge and capability. The association has had close involvement and has supported parents to evaluate and improve ways to assess and plan for children's learning.

This review was part of a cluster of nine playcentres in the Canterbury Playcentre Association (CPA).

The Review Findings

Children are provided with a wide range of interesting learning activities and learning experiences. Adults support and extend children's learning by the way they present activities and the environment and make use of a range of good quality resources. The outdoor area is spacious and has a range of equipment that extends children's physical skills.

Adults play alongside children, enjoy positive relationships with other parents and encourage children's active exploration.

Adults make good use of the local community. Children have regular contact with the school and visit local businesses and the marae.

Infants and toddlers are valued and well provided for. The adults have set up a suitable play area that has a good range of appropriate resources for babies and young children.

The playcentre is committed to developing aspects of New Zealand's bicultural heritage in the environment, programme and resources. It is visible in the centre with some visual prompts to support parents' use of te reo and understanding of Māori culture.

A small group of parents are strongly committed to successfully managing the play centre. They are involved with the association's parent education training programme. Parents share knowledge and skills and model practices for parents to engage children in learning. They make good use of the association's guidelines and systems to ensure effective management of the playcentre.

The Canterbury Playcentre Association has made significant progress since the 2014 ERO cluster review. They have implemented a strategic plan that effectively identifies goals, plans and progress. The centre support and education teams have been structured to provide more efficient and timely support and guidance for the centres. The parent education programme has become more accessible to parents. Noticeably more parents are participating in all levels of the training and are making good use of this new knowledge in the centres. The centre support team is successfully facilitating the sharing of useful knowledge and practices across centres.

The association has high expectations for every child to experience high quality education and all parents to be actively involved in parent education and the management of the centres. They have established some very useful systems and practices to ensure the sustainability and improvement of the organisation and the centres. This includes effective evaluation and monitoring of the quality of education for parents and improved outcomes for children.

The key next steps for the association are to:

  • review how the well individual playcentre philosophies are meeting the changing contexts of centres

  • implement appraisals for the members of the centre support team to align more closely with centre needs and association expectations.

Key Next Steps

The association, parents and ERO agree that the next steps for the playcentre include:

  • embedding new planning and assessment practices

  • strengthening internal evaluation and strategic planning

  • continuing to develop closer relationships with the marae to promote a better understanding of tikanga and te reo Māori.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Dunsandel 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 appraisal. To meet requirements the association needs to improve its performance in the following areas:

  • implement a system of regular appraisal for members of the Education Support Team.

[Regulation 47 (GMA7) Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008]

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern/Te Waipounamu

2 March 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


Dunsandel, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

21 children, including up to 10 aged under two

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 4; Boys 4

Ethnic composition





Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

2 March 2017

Most recent ERO reports 

Education Review

August 2012

Education Review

May 2009

Education Review

November 2006

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.