Horotiu Playcentre - 02/10/2015

1 Evaluation of Horotiu Playcentre

How well placed is Horotiu 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.


Horotiu Playcentre is located in an attractive and well established semi rural setting adjacent to Horotiu Primary School. The centre is licensed to provide sessional education and care for 30 children including up to 15 children aged up to two years old. At the time of this ERO review there were 26 children, including 2 children who identify as Māori attending in mixed-age sessions with their parents.

The centre operates as a parent cooperative under the umbrella of the Waikato Playcentre Association (WPA). The New Zealand Playcentre Federation and the WPA continue to provide effective governance and strategic direction for the centre. Members also benefit from the ongoing the guidance and support of centre support workers, and adult education courses. This support and training is underpinned by the association’s its philosophy “Whānau tupu ngātahi -families growing together”. The association’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is evident in its bicultural leadership model, support for Māori whānau, and funding to support members to include te reo and tikanga Māori in learning programmes.

Since the 2012 ERO report there has been a complete change of leadership. The new leadership team has implemented a number of significant improvements to centre organisation, culture, the physical environment, and equipment and materials for learning. Centre members make excellent use of their collective skills, experience and training. This has resulted in good progress in addressing the areas for review identified in the 2012 ERO report related to noticing and responding to children’s learning. There are effective and manageable systems in place to document and respond to children’s interests, learning and development. Centre members are aware of the ongoing need to continue to build their knowledge and use of te reo Māori during sessions. There continues to be a need to include specific information about children’s developing understanding of literacy and mathematics concepts as an important part of the assessment process.

All members are participating in playcentre training courses, including many involved at advanced levels and a number are also qualified teachers. Centre members have successfully increased their membership in recent times and are working to enhance their profile in the community.

The centre’s philosophical aim to provide a place where parents/whānau and children can play and learn together is highly evident and well realised.

This review was part of a cluster of six playcentre reviews in the Waikato Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children experience a nurturing, supportive and stimulating learning environment. They confidently explore and experiment with a wide variety of readily accessed, high quality and well-presented resources that add challenge to their learning. This environment facilitates the development of complex, creative and imaginative play for sustained periods of time. Children confidently express their ideas and opinions to adults and their peers. They enjoy the opportunities to solve problems as they play, and are building their understanding of literacy and early concepts of number as they talk with adults in meaningful contexts.

Tuakana-teina relationships are evident as toddlers and younger children learn by observing and being included in play alongside older children. Babies are an integral part of centre life. They benefit from comfortable, safe and well-designed facilities and spaces to meet their individual needs. Mothers enjoy unhurried and nurturing time with their babies as other centre members take responsibility to engage older siblings in play.

Centre members collaboratively plan and prepare a high-quality, child-centred playcentre programme and environment. This includes regular visits to places of interest in the local and wider community. A particular benefit of the parent cooperative is that the language and culture of each child is present in the parent as they learn together. ERO heard one parent speaking her first language to her child throughout the session as they engaged in centre activities together.

Planning and assessment of individual children’s learning and development is documented in attractively presented individual children’s portfolios. These portfolios provide a record of aspects of children’s experiences at playcentre, and are a valued way for children and families to revisit and share these together. The quality of portfolios is enhanced as parents participate in playcentre training and receive mentoring from more experienced members.

Parent aspirations for their children, as well as children’s identified interests are attractively displayed and shared amongst members to enhance the programme for children. Centre members agree that it would be useful to regularly reflect on and document the extent to which these aspirations have been realised. Maintaining continuity of learning between home and centre is a unique and positive outcome of parents’ direct involvement in children’s activities and learning experiences.

High quality practices that adults use to promote children’s learning and development were evident in the centres. These include:

  • shared responsibility for children’s emotional and physical well-being
  • calm, nurturing and positive relationships and interactions amongst and between adults and children
  • learning conversations that build children’s thinking skills and extend their knowledge of the world around them
  • consistent and positive guidance of children’s behaviour and affirmation of their successes and achievements
  • the priority placed on giving children undivided attention during session time.

A group of highly motivated, knowledgeable and dedicated families lead, manage and run the playcentre cooperative. Centre leaders have a good understanding of self review and strategic planning. As a result, the centre is well placed to sustain and improve its contribution to the education of families and children in the surrounding area.

Centre support workers (CSW) employed by the WPA continue to make a significant contribution to mentoring centre leaders and fostering leadership potential within the centre. Their wide and historic knowledge and experience of this centre and community is generously shared with and highly valued by centre members.

The kawanatanga CSW provides active and meaningful learning experiences to build children’s and adults’ understanding and appreciation of te reo, tikanga and te ao Māori. This compliments the New Zealand Playcentre Federation and WPA initiatives to promote a service where Māori cultural values are visible and present and Māori whānau feel welcomed and included.

Key Next Steps

Centre members should consider the extent to which individual portfolios reflect and document:

  • the language, culture and identity of each child in the context of their family
  • oral language, literacy and numeracy learning
  • learning outcomes identified in New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki.

Centre members should also continue to build their confidence and competence in the meaningful use of te reo during sessions.

In addition, at WPA level there is a need to review and strengthen:

  • CSW reports that are linked to licensing criteria and strategic aims of this centre
  • the appraisal system for paid supervisors that includes a clear job description and specific feedback aligned to expectations for teaching and learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

2 October 2015 

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 


North of Hamilton City

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

Boys        8
Girls       18

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

2 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

November 2012

Education Review

February 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.