Rakaia Playcentre - 27/09/2016

1 Evaluation of Rakaia Playcentre

How well placed is Rakaia 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.


Children at Rakaia Playcentre play and learn in a modern building located on the grounds of the local school. The centre is open three mornings a week. It can provide for up to 26 children from birth-to-school age. Roll numbers fluctuate, reflecting the seasonal demands of the local farming industry. Children come from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The sessions are led by two long-serving paid supervisors and playcentre members. All playcentre parents are gaining playcentre qualifications through an adult-education training programme provided by the Mid Canterbury Playcentre Association.

Rakaia 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, assessment practices, and a programme responsive to Māori and Tongan cultures. ERO found there had been good progress 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 and their whānau have a strong sense of belonging and whanaungatanga at Rakaia Playcentre. Children are well supported to be confident in their own culture and to understand and respect other cultures.

The supervisors and parents help children to develop knowledge and an understanding of New Zealand's bicultural heritage. They:

  • celebrate significant events such as Mātariki

  • model and help children learn te reo Māori, their mihi and waiata

  • help one another to become more confident in using te reo Māori

  • purposefully include Māori perspectives in play activities.

Māori values that are important for this playcentre have been identified and are displayed for all parents to see. These should be included in the playcentre's philosophy.

Parents are actively involved with their own and other children. They listen carefully to children. They allow them time to think and help them express their ideas. They help children to become confident and capable learners.

There is a separate area for infants and toddlers. However, children of these ages are naturally integrated into the session and have access to a wide range of suitable resources and experiences.

The supervisor and parent helpers for the day have a pre-session conversation that has a deliberate focus on how they will support children's learning and respond to their interests. Children at the centre:

  • settle quickly and confidently make choices about what they want to do

  • show enjoyment as they play with and alongside each other

  • fully involve themselves in the interesting experiences and resources available to them.

Children benefit from rich and interesting programmes. They have many opportunities to learn early literacy and mathematics. They have regular, purposeful trips and outings to the school, local community and Christchurch. These trips extend and build on learning that takes place within the playcentre.

Experienced and skilled supervisors are role models for the parents as they work with children. The supervisors and parents have an effective system for planning and assessment. Supervisors and parents have termly meetings to work on children's profiles together, support each other and help new parents learn how to plan for their children.

Rakaia Playcentre has a philosophy that reflects the shared values and beliefs of the parents. Centre documentation and the conversations ERO had with parents showed that they have clear ideas about what the desired learning outcomes are for their children. When the philosophy is next reviewed, these desired learning outcomes should be included, and linked to aspects of planning and self review.

The process for self review has been used well to make improvements to aspects of the playcentre programme and practices. The process would be further improved by using evaluative questions and further refining and using indicators (criteria showing what good practice looks like) at all the stages of the review.

Parents meet regularly to oversee the smooth running of the playcentre. They have an annual plan to guide their work. This needs to be better monitored to show progress. 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.

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 each playcentre in response to its needs. It should ensure it receives evaluative reporting on key aspects relating to 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 always 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

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

  • review the playcentre philosophy to include their desired outcomes for children

  • refine aspects of self review.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Rakaia 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 Rakaia 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

26 children, including up to 10 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Boys: 15

Girls: 6

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

August 2016

Date of this report

27 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

June 2012

Education Review

March 2009

Education Review

September 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.