Parklands Playcentre - 17/06/2016

1 Evaluation of Parklands Playcentre

How well placed is Parklands 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.


Parklands Playcentre is a parent-led early childhood education service in Kamo, Whangarei. The centre provides four morning sessions each week for children up to school age, including one session focused mainly on children over three years old. It currently caters for 38 children and families many of whom travel some distance to attend the Playcentre.

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. Very high training levels among parents contribute to the quality of learning children enjoy.

The centre is part of the Northland Playcentre Association, which is administered by a Management Board elected by centre 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 management, educator and parenting roles. Several parents at Parklands Playcentre also have key Association management roles. Te Roopu Whakaaro Kotahi is being re-established to support whānau Māori in the Association.

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 centre members’ collaborative commitment to operating the Playcentre and extending the levels of parent education. It also noted the very positive learning experiences for children and the good quality of relationships. Areas for further development at that time included self-review, support for newer members, and improved documentation of children's learning. Significant improvement has been made in all of these areas.

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

The Review Findings

Parkland Playcentre is enriched by a large core group of experienced centre members who willingly share their skills and knowledge with others. They warmly welcome and support new families and have established a positive profile in the community. There is a strong learning ethos, and children show a joyful sense of belonging and wellbeing in the centre.

Children are competent and articulate learners. They confidently initiate their own play, often working collaboratively and sustaining their interests for prolonged periods. Well established friendships support children to develop very good conversation skills and engage in complex imaginative play.

Older children are learning to deepen their explorations through the 'Big Kids Club' and have expectations that learning will be challenging and fun. Aspects of literacy and numeracy are especially promoted through this extended session.

Parents cater for infants and toddlers very well. They are effectively supported within the provision for older children and are encouraged to explore independently, make discoveries and learn from older peers. A quieter withdrawal space and sleep room for infants also support their wellbeing.

Parents and whānau skilfully prompt children's learning. They notice their ongoing interests and plan resources and activities that will promote further investigations and inquiry. Several parents use open-ended questions well to challenge children's thinking and extend their ideas.

Parents and whānau use the 'Day Book' effectively to record what adults notice about children’s play interests, and to identify next steps to support learning. Individual portfolios provide extensive records of children's learning and development. Parents could now elaborate on their own roles in supporting children's learning in these records.

The learning environments for children are spacious, exciting and well resourced. Features in the outdoors are the garden areas and large shady trees and a wide grassed space. A newly developed and evolving nature playground provides inviting challenges with large logs, a campfire setting, mounds, muddy pits and a water pump. Children are encouraged to test their physical abilities, take learning risks and persist with difficult tasks.

Parents and whānau collectively make decisions at regular meetings and share responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the centre. They are ably supported by an Association centre support worker and a kaiawhina who helps whānau to implement bicultural practices in the programme.

Centre members have a comprehensive annual plan to guide their progress and are currently revising their long term strategic plan. They have established very good employer practices to support the paid supervisor for the 'Big Kids Club'. Parents involved in higher levels of Playcentre training are guiding the development of effective self-review processes.

The Northland Playcentre Association supports 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:

  • further developing self-review processes particularly in relation to significant strategic reviews

  • using the early childhood indicators of best practice to identify new challenges and goals for the centre

  • periodically evaluating the overall programme for children to critically reflect on the impact of practices and the outcomes for children

  • continuing to strengthen bicultural practices and celebrating the cultures of individual families.


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 Parklands 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 Parklands Playcentre will be in four 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


Kamo, Whangarei

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

Girls 24 Boys 14

Ethnic composition











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

August 2012

Education Review

May 2009

Education Review

June 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.