Pirongia Playcentre - 06/12/2018

1 Evaluation of Pirongia Playcentre

How well placed is Pirongia 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.


Pirongia Playcentre is a parent-led, mixed-age service, situated in the village of Pirongia near Te Awamutu. It is licensed for 26 children, including 10 up to the age of two years. Of the 31 children enrolled, four are of Māori descent. The playcentre currently operates three morning sessions for all children on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 'Challenger' sessions for older children on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In 2018, The New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF) is transitioning from operating as 32 regional associations to a national organisation with six offices. In the Central North Island eight associations have merged into a regional hub renamed Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island. This region includes 95 playcentres spread over a large geographic area, with a regional office in Hamilton. The national Te Whare Tikanga Māori initiative, promotes self-determination for Māori members through regular hui and targeted funding. During an ongoing period of transition, there is some overlap between previous local association systems and new national approaches.

The revised management structure consists of a regional manager and a centre support coordinator who provide systems and processes that support strategic planning, internal evaluation, administration and human resources management. A centre support worker and centre administrator provide support and guidance for curriculum, parent education and centre operations. Responsibility for centre leadership is shared by centre members.

The centre operates from an historic building believed to be one of the first school buildings constructed in the area. Children and parents make good use of spacious grounds, an adjacent park and other local amenities. Since the previous 2014 ERO review, there have been continual membership changes. A group of new families have joined the playcentre this year and have begun participating in newly developed national playcentre education and training courses.

Through its philosophy the centre aims to promote spontaneous, child-initiated play that extends the learning of each child. Parents are valued as first teachers. They are supported to develop a curriculum which assists all children to grow up as competent, and confident learners and communicators.

The centre has a positive ERO reporting history.

The Review Findings

Interactions and relationships between adults and children are consistently positive and supportive. Adults actively engage in children's play, tuning in to their interests and providing respectful choices about their activities. Open-ended questions encourage children to think and extend their ideas and learning. Literacy, mathematics, science, and te reo Māori are continually integrated within planned and spontaneous learning experiences. Positive guidance encourages children to make friends and support each other across age groups. Children demonstrate settled and sustained engagement in a wide range of increasingly complex activities. They are confident and competent learners.

Children under two make good use of a calm, uncluttered environment to learn and explore with parents and siblings. They have space to explore independently and in their own time. Their verbal and non-verbal cues are understood and responded to by their parents and other adults. Infants and toddlers have a strong sense of belonging at the centre as happy, settled explorers.

Attractive and welcoming Indoor and outdoor learning environments continue to be very well resourced to support children's learning and play. The easy accessibility of a wide range of equipment encourages children to be self managing in determining their play and pursuing their interests.

The curriculum is effectively led by children, with intentional support from adults. Very well established processes for assessment, planning and evaluation include the extension of children's interests and learning over time. Adults choose from a range of assessment strategies to demonstrate how they notice, recognise and respond to the interests and learning needs of each child. Learning is visible on wall displays and in well maintained individual portfolios. Aspects of Māori culture and tradition have been incorporated within the programme. Adults are aware of the need to become more familiar with Te Whāriki 2017.

The centre president effectively promotes collaboration and shared leadership among members. She is experienced, knowledgeable and well qualified in early childhood education theory and practice. Centre leaders and members are well supported by the centre support worker and the supervisor of 'Challenger' sessions. Leaders provide strong welcoming support for new families with an appropriate emphasis on parent education to build capacity for session supervision and to promote sustainability of the centre. There is centre-wide ownership of the philosophy and effective strategic and annual planning processes. Internal evaluation results in positive improvement in the provision for children’s learning and play. Centre leaders have established a positive culture of nurture, care and information sharing for children and their families.

Playcentre Aotearoa Central North Island is in the early stages of providing governance support for centres. Comprehensive, national policies and processes for planning, reporting, appraisal and other operations have been developed and are now beginning to be implemented. Playcentre members understand their responsibility for local governance. As the implementation of structural changes continues, there will be a need to evaluate the resulting impact and outcomes for children and families.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for this centre are to further develop:

  • awareness of Te Whāriki 2017 for all members

  • bicultural perspectives in assessment and the curriculum.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

6 December 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


Pirongia, near Te Awamutu

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

26 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys 18 Girls 13

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

6 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

October 2014

Education Review

July 2011

Education Review

June 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.