Owaka Playcentre - 18/05/2018

1 Evaluation of Owaka Playcentre

How well placed is Owaka 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.


Owaka Playcentre is one of 47 playcentres within the New Zealand Playcentre Federation's newly-formed South Island Southern Region (SISR). It is open one morning a week. Up to 25 children aged from birth to school age attend with their parents. The playcentre is situated close to the Catlins Area School. It has close links to the local and rural communities.

The sessions are led by parents who have a range of playcentre qualifications. Some of the parents are continuing to increase their levels of training.

In 2017, the playcentre was supported by a centre advisor with occasional visits and frequent communications from the Otago Playcentre Association (OPA). In 2018, as a result of the Playcentre Federation restructuring of the association, the playcentre now has regular fortnightly visits and receives ongoing support from a centre support worker (CSW) and a paid administrator.

This review was part of a cluster of nine reviews in the SISR playcentres.

The Review Findings

Parents at Owaka Playcentre aim for their children to develop:

  • a sense of belonging to their local community
  • good learning habits, including friendship skills
  • confidence as they transition to school. 

These priorities are evident in practice and contribute to the way the playcentre is successfully promoting positive outcomes for children. 

The weekly session is effectively facilitated by parents (lead educators), who are gaining playcentre qualifications. The parents take collective responsibility for contributing to planning and implementing the programme. They are aware that they need to ensure that all parents continue to access training, to maintain the progress they have made in 2017 with planning and assessment practices.

The lead educators model respectful, caring conversations with children that draw on their deep knowledge of each child's individual needs and interests. They value children's ideas and use these to extend children's play and learning. They use simple te reo Māori and waiata. Some resources reflect the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. The educators identified that growing the bicultural dimension is a work in progress. ERO confirms this priority.

The playcentre is well resourced and provides a broad range of activities indoors and outside that provide for the diverse age range of children attending. Infants and toddlers are the direct responsibility of their parent or caregiver in the programme, and have a separate safe area suitably resourced for their requirements. The lead educators plan a range of appropriate activities that allow these younger children to be fully involved in the programme.

The parents actively seek ways to improve the playcentre. They recognise the challenges of providing a service in a small, rural community and are seeking ways to overcome these. For example, they are making better use of ICT to communicate more regularly. Parents have carried out a number of spontaneous reviews to improve aspects of the operations. The next step is to continue to find ways to make internal evaluation manageable and more directly related to improving outcomes for children's learning.

At the time of this review, the OPA was implementing the New Zealand Playcentre Federation's new operating model, and was amalgamating with Southland and South Canterbury Playcentre Associations to become the South Island Southern Region. While the changes resulted in some disruption to the services provided to individual playcentres in 2017, the OPA is effectively managing the restructure with the resources available to them. Each playcentre now receives regular support from a paid administrator and a centre support worker. There are robust systems in the association for monitoring the progress and performance of individual playcentres and targeted support is given when needed.

Key Next Steps

With the ongoing support of the centre support worker, the key next steps for the playcentre parents are to continue to develop the knowledge, understanding and effective use of:

  • assessment, planning and evaluation practices
  • internal evaluation that is meaningful and focused on outcomes for children
  • te reo Māori and bicultural perspectives in the programme.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

18 May 2018 

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

25 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls:  6

Boys:  5

Ethnic composition



Percentage of qualified teachers


Parent led with playcentre qualifications

Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

18 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2013

Supplementary Review

April 2009

Education Review

March 2008

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.