Mangapai Playcentre - 17/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Mangapai Playcentre

How well placed is Mangapai 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.


Mangapai Playcentre is a parent-led early childhood education service in Mangapai. It is situated in a rural setting close to Whangarei. The centre provides two morning sessions each week for children from birth to school age. Recently, in response to low numbers attending the Playcentre, a small group of long-serving members successfully promoted new enrolments. The centre currently caters for 18 children and families who live in the surrounding areas. Experienced members are supporting those who are relatively new to Playcentre.

The centre is part of the Northland Playcentre Association, (NPA) which is managed by officers elected by centre members. The Association provides a framework for effective centre management and operations. NPA also provides parent education programmes and personnel to support centre members in their management, educator and parenting roles. The programmes that centre members provide for children are underpinned by the overarching Playcentre philosophy of whānau and children learning together in a fun, nurturing learning environment.

An extensive addition to the building is about to be constructed. Centre parents are hoping the more spacious setting will enable them to provide better defined areas of play and adequate office and storage space.

Playcentre Aotearoa, the national organisation, is currently in the process of a comprehensive restructure. A regional hub will be established to provide governance, management and parent education support for Playcentres north of Auckland. While this will mean significant changes at the local Association level, it is expected that support for individual centres will be maintained or strengthened.

ERO's 2012 review noted the collaboration, and respect between parents who were at that time providing one session with activities for older children. An inclusive environment contributed to children's strong sense of belonging and ownership in the centre. Areas for development were to personalise the philosophy to the local families and community, develop self-review processes, and match the planning for learning to Playcentre's curriculum policy. Progress has been made in these areas.

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

The Review Findings

Mangapai Playcentre is managed and led by a small, core group of enthusiastic parents/whānau committed to providing education for their own children within a community of like-minded families/whānau. Friendly relationships amongst centre parents/whānau, and a welcoming and inclusive environment contributes to families' sense of wellbeing and belonging.

There has been a real effort by experienced members to ensure that all new families know about roles and responsibilities within the centre. They are hoping that this will support succession planning by increasing confidence and shared leadership in operating the centre. The need for committed membership of the centre continues to be a focus for the year ahead.

Children are confident and competent learners, with a sense of belonging and ownership in the centre. They initiate their own play and learning, often in friendly groups. Children engage in high levels of conversation, problem-solving and negotiation during sustained play, sometimes for extended periods. The 'Big Kids Club', a specific time to focus on the older children in the session provides opportunities for extending children's learning through fun and discovery. Aspects of literacy and numeracy are especially promoted through this session. During this time, younger children also have opportunities to take part in extension activities.

Parents/whānau access Playcentre training in a variety of ways, and levels of course completion are rising. Experienced parent members model good examples of working effectively with children, engaging them in conversations that encourage children to share ideas and thinking. There is a calm and connected tone to the session. Parents/whānau provide an environment and encouragement that support children of all ages. In particular parents support children with different abilities.

Regular use of an attractive day book to record daily events and children's engagement in programmes is increasing knowledge about children's interests and dispositions as learners. Effective strategies are in place to encourage new families to add to children's individual portfolios to indicate what they notice and recognise about children's learning through play.

Parents encourage physically active and challenging play, aided by recent purchases of equipment and resources. A planned development is to create a nature playground in a Playcentre-owned paddock adjoining the centre. Children generally choose to play outdoors and the recent creation of a mud kitchen is providing wide scope for imaginative and collaborative play. Children use the centre's extensive outdoor areas well.

Playcentre's 'whānau tupu ngātahi' philosophical approach is reflected in centre members' commitment to incorporating bicultural practices in programmes for their children. There is in-centre leadership for this focus as well as support from the Association kaiawhina. Parents/whānau are becoming more confident to include te reo and waiata Māori incidentally in sessions. Te Roopu Whakaaro Kotahi is being re-established to support whānau Māori in the Association.

Parents and whānau collectively make decisions at regular meetings. At present the small core group of experienced members undertake the majority of responsibilities. They are carefully encouraging newer members to accept responsible roles. Centre members have developed strategic and annual planning to guide their progress. Parents engaged in higher levels of Playcentre training are guiding the development of self-review processes.

The Northland Playcentre Association supports the centres well. The board of management communicates effectively and has responded positively to the need for flexible options in the parent education programme. Centre support workers tailor their support hours and focus to match centre needs. They are keen to further enhance the effectiveness of their centre visits. The Association has embraced the imminent restructuring of the national Playcentre body and is preparing centres well for the impending changes.

Key Next Steps

Centre members agree that key next steps that will support centre progress and sustainability include:

  • extending self-review processes to evaluate how well review makes a difference for children by deepening the focus on learning practices

  • strengthening the use of 'what next' in children's portfolios, as a way of making learning and support for learning over time more visible

  • continuing to strengthen bicultural understanding and practices.


ERO recommends that the Association and/or the new regional manager and officers consider ways to strengthen the formative and evaluative nature of centre support workers' visits and reports in order to:

  • provide greater assurance about the quality of support for children's learning

  • establish the effectiveness and impact of the personnel who are employed to support centres

  • ensure that self-review processes provide clear guidance for centre office holders and support the continuity and sustainability of centre operations

  • provide targeted support for centre members to establish effective strategic and annual planning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

17 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


Mangapai, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

18 children, including up to 12 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 14 Boys 4

Ethnic composition



French Swiss




Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

17 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

October 2012

Education Review

June 2009

Education Review

May 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.