Longbeach Playcentre - 27/09/2016

1 Evaluation of Longbeach Playcentre

How well placed is Longbeach 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.


Longbeach Playcentre is located in a small, rural community next door to the school. At the time of the review it was open for three morning sessions a week for children from birth-to-school age.

Each session is led by a paid supervisor and playcentre members. They are gaining playcentre qualifications through an adult-education training programme provided by the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association.

Longbeach Playcentre is one of seven playcentres in the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association. The association is made up of a group of dedicated paid and elected members. The association provides a framework for centre management and operations, as well as parent-education programmes and personnel to support centre members in their work with children.

The Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association is experiencing a time of change as all playcentre associations throughout New Zealand merge with the New Zealand Playcentre Federation to reduce duplication and make cost savings. This restructure will mean significant changes at the local association level.

ERO's 2012 report noted a number of areas for review and development. These included strategic and annual planning, self review, assessment and the bicultural programme. ERO found there are still improvements to be made in these areas.

This review was part of a cluster of seven playcentre reviews in the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children at Longbeach Playcentre have a sense of belonging. Many of them have been attending since birth. They have an easy familiarity with each other, the adults and the playcentre environment. Parents appreciate the family support they receive through their involvement in the playcentre.

Children play and learn in well-resourced indoor and outdoor areas. They are settled, make choices about what they want to do and help decide how to set up the play areas and activities. They play for sustained periods of time with and alongside each other. Older children naturally include younger children in their activities. Infants and toddlers have a range of suitable resources and experiences provided for them.

Positive aspects of the programme that support children's learning include:

  • regular visits to and from the school next door

  • outings into the local community, such as the nearby reserve

  • many opportunities for open-ended exploration and physical play

  • the way the supervisors provide interesting experiences based on their own skills and strengths.

The adults know all the children well. They take joint responsibility to care for each other's babies during the session. They:

  • follow children's interests and leads

  • join children in their play and celebrate their successes

  • ensure that children can revisit favourite activities over time.

The centre supervisors and parents are slowly building their confidence in including Māori perspectives in the programme. This includes introducing simple te reo Māori, art work and celebrating Matariki with centre families. The next step is for the supervisors and parents to continue to work on this and find ways to enrich the bicultural programme.

The supervisors have a purposeful discussion before each session begins to set the direction for the day. After sessions they discuss what the children were interested in and what activities should be continued in the next session. These discussions and the written notes that are kept need to focus on what learning adults are supporting. The supervisors are exploring how they can ensure there is greater continuity between the sessions.

The supervisors and parents are implementing new systems for planning arising from the association's improvements in this area. The next step is for them to continue to build their confidence in this area. This includes finding ways for all children's next steps for learning to be known and included in session planning.

The playcentre philosophy is regularly reviewed. It contains the parents' shared values and beliefs, and recognises the importance of families being involved in their children's learning. Documentation and the conversations ERO had with parents showed that they have clear ideas about what the desired learning outcomes were for their children. When the philosophy is next reviewed, these desired learning outcomes should be included and linked to planning and self review.

The parents have made good use of self review to improve aspects of centre programmes and practices. The process would be further improved by developing and using indicators (criteria showing what good practice looks like) at all stages of the review. They need to develop a schedule to ensure they review key aspects of the playcentre's programmes and practices over time.

The parents meet regularly to oversee the smooth running of the playcentre. All parents are encouraged to complete the adult-education programmes so there are enough qualified adults to run the sessions. This is an ongoing priority for the playcentre. They are yet to develop an annual plan to guide their work and this should be done without delay.

The Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association responded well to the issues and trends emerging from the 2012 ERO reports for each playcentre. The board is very supportive of the playcentres and provides additional support for centres in response to their needs. It should ensure it receives evaluative reporting on key aspects relating to the centre support and supervisor support roles.

The board has a strategic plan with purposeful actions to help guide its work. This should be more formally monitored. Board members meet regularly to discuss key aspects of the smooth running of the association. They are working proactively to assist the smooth transition through the New Zealand Playcentre Federation changes. The board has an expectation that each playcentre will have its own annual plan, however these are not yet in place. The association's appraisal system for the supervisors has been reinstated and needs to continue to be embedded.

Key next steps for the association are to:

  • monitor the board's annual plan and support all playcentres to prepare annual plans

  • ensure it receives evaluative reporting on key aspects of playcentre operations.

Key Next Steps

The Longbeach Playcentre supervisors and parents, with the support of the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association, need to:

  • review the playcentre philosophy and include their commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and their desired outcomes for children

  • continue to improve and embed assessment, planning and evaluation practices, and ensure continuity of learning between sessions

  • build the parents' confidence in using self review and develop a schedule for reviews

  • develop and implement a Longbeach Playcentre annual and strategic plan

  • enrich the bicultural programme.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

27 September 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



Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

24 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls: 13

Boys: 12

Ethnic composition





Percentage of qualified teachers

Parent led

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

July 2016

Date of this report

27 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2012

Education Review

May 2009

Education Review

September 2005

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.