St Leonards Playcentre - 13/11/2014

1 Evaluation of St Leonards Playcentre

How well placed is St Leonards 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.


St Leonards Playcentre is a small parent-led playcentre in north Dunedin. The centre is open five mornings a week and employs an educator for each session. Educators work closely with parents. Parents attending believe in providing a supportive environment for parents and children, both socially and emotionally, while learning together.

Since the ERO review in 2011, there have been some changes in playcentre members. The adults continue to work to respond to the recommendations in the 2011 report.

This review was part of a cluster of 12 playcentre reviews in the Otago Playcentre Association (OPA).

The Review Findings

The parents at St Leonards Playcentre are improvement focused. They work together to provide a safe, stimulating learning environment for children and families in the local community and from further afield.

A particular strength is the emphasis on relationships. There is a strong sense of whanaungatanga and of shared ownership of the place and the programme. New families, especially those new to the community, have found support and friendships through the playcentre. Children settle quickly on arrival and show a strong sense of belonging.

Parents carefully identify each child’s interests, strengths and abilities. They then specifically plan individual, small and large-group learning experiences that link back to these. As a result, children enjoy a wide range of interesting activities and experiences.

Adults encourage children to learn social skills and form meaningful friendships with one another. They promote the development of children’s language, love of books and interest in written words. 

Children have many experiences that encourage creative expression, such as dramatic play and music. In the outdoor area the spacious grounds allow children to explore and learn through physical and creative play.

Other aspects of the playcentre programme that positively impact on children include:

  • the wide range of good quality resources and equipment used to extend and promote children’s development and learning
  • the high number of caring adults to support and extend children’s thinking and learning through purposeful interactions
  • interesting excursions into the community that link back to children’s interests and learning.

Children often venture into the community for excursions. They explore the harbour and visit places such as the museum and local library. Strong links with the local school help children in their transition to school. Parents effectively use Facebook and a web site to keep everyone well informed.

Parent council members share the running of the centre and meet regularly to review aspects of the service. A team reflects on the daily programme and topics identified as needing improvement are investigated and researched. The council receives good support from an OPA advisor. Self-review processes are in place and improvements result in positive outcomes for children.

As part of this review, ERO investigated how well the centre supported children’s early mathematics learning. St Leonards Playcentre integrates mathematical learning well.

Key Next Steps

ERO agrees with the playcentre leaders that their next steps for improvement are to continue to develop:

  • parents’ and children’s confidence and competence in te reo Māori and to integrate Māori perspectives into the programme
  • self-review processes and practices, including implementing a schedule for reviews of key aspects that impact on children.


The Otago Playcentre Association is facing challenges and uncertainty as the Playcentre Federation and the training they provide undergoes a period of restructuring. During this time, the association has made it a priority to focus on the daily operations of the playcentres. This includes:

  • managing an association-wide system for all aspects of health, safety and compliance
  • ongoing provision of playcentre training.

ERO found that the association needs to:

  • strengthen the appraisal process for all employed personnel
  • ensure that association policies provided to the centre are regularly reviewed
  • be more responsive and timely to training needs to enable playcentres to meet licensing and employment requirements.

Each playcentre has the ongoing support of a centre advisor. This includes:

  • regular visits to provide informal and formal feedback and encouragement
  • helping parents know what to do to the meet licensing requirements.

Centre advisors should find ways to make best practice common practice across the association, for example, through effective self review and planning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell
National Manager Review Services
Southern Region

13 November 2014 

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 15 aged under two

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 12 Boys 11

Ethnic composition

Other ethnicities


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

13 November 2014

Most recent ERO reports


Education Review

June 2011

Education Review

February 2008

Education Review

December 2004

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.