Tapawera Playcentre - 09/03/2020

1 Evaluation of Tapawera Playcentre

How well placed is Tapawera Playcentre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

Tapawera Playcentre requires further development to promote positive learning outcomes for children.

Key aspects of practice require development due to changes in centre support, curriculum leadership and an increasing number of new parents involved in playcentre operations. Members would benefit from a period of support specifically tailored to centre needs.

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Tapawera Playcentre is one of 78 playcentres in the Upper South Island region. It operates for two morning sessions each week and is licensed for 25 children, including up to 15 aged under two years. Almost all families are new to the service since the previous May 2015 ERO review. The playcentre shares building space and facilities with other local groups.

At the time of the 2015 ERO review the centre was one of 13 administered by the Nelson Playcentre Association, under the umbrella of The New Zealand Playcentre Federation Inc. In June of 2019, the 32 associations nationwide amalgamated into one new entity, a charitable trust, Playcentre Aotearoa, (the organisation). Nelson playcentres are now managed as part of a regional hub of the new organisation.

A centre support worker (CSW), employed by the organisation, regularly visits the playcentre and provides professional advice and feedback to strengthen the programme for children. A centre administrator (CA) works with members to support compliance with regulations. Day-to-day management is the role of centre-elected office holders. One paid session facilitator with recognised levels of training provides ongoing support for the implementation of the daily programme. There have been recent changes in session facilitator and CSW.

Playcentre philosophy recognises the importance of parents working together, alongside their children, to support their self-initiated play and promote their learning.

The 2015 ERO report identified bicultural practice, programme evaluation and self review as areas for improvement. In addition the Nelson Playcentre Association had several key next steps to address.

This review was one of four in Playcentre Aotearoa, Nelson region.

The Review Findings

Members have worked collaboratively to identify agreed values to underpin their experience at Tapawera playcentre. A next step should be to identify what values support the learning programme and outcomes they want to achieve for children.

Children have free access to a suitable range of learning materials. The outdoor play space is well equipped to promote adventure and challenge. Children enjoy the opportunities provided. Many are independent learners able to sustain their play for long periods.

Adults provide good support for children to investigate, socialise, make their own choices and have fun. Creativity and self-expression are fostered. Aspects of literacy, mathematics and science are introduced in play-based ways. There is good provision for toddlers. Children are settled, confident and happy learners who display a strong sense of belonging and wellbeing at playcentre.

Promoting a shared understanding of assessment for learning is a work in progress. The focus on encouraging parents' interest and input into their children's learning plans and supporting their understanding of early learning and the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, should continue.

A good relationship with the local primary school has been established. A next step should be to seek more purposeful connections to support continuity of learning for children as they move from playcentre to school.

Members recognise the need to strengthen their understanding of te ao Māori and develop a more bicultural perspective in the programme. Building a more bicultural approach to operation should remain a strategic priority for the new organisation.

A core group of members show strong commitment to a collective approach to managing operation and are well supported by the session facilitator and CSW. A sense of community is evident. Key office roles within the centre are now filled. Additional support provided by management has resulted in a development plan which is supporting progress over time.

Nelson-based CSWs are receiving suitably targeted professional learning and development from the organisation linked to regional priorities for improvement. A more constructive approach to CSW support for centres, including reporting that is more responsive to needs, is in the early stages of implementation.

An appraisal process is in place to support the development of the CSW and session facilitator's practice. Implementation of the process should be strengthened to ensure there is sufficient rigour in goal setting, observations of practice and feedback. The CA should have the opportunity to participate in an appraisal process and targeted training opportunities.

New policy guidelines, developed by the organisation, have now been adopted at centre level. When fully implemented these should support shared understanding of the Playcentre expectations and accountabilities.

Implementation of internal evaluation has been strongly supported by the regional manager. The understanding and use of this improvement-focused approach is at a very early stage.

The restructure of Playcentre Aotearoa operation is being carefully worked through to support a new and more sustainable future for the organisation. The regional office provides a range of valuable support including a new role designed to redistribute the management of compliance and administration. There is also improved assistance for members to implement curriculum, internal evaluation, adult education, and manage marketing and property matters. Leaders report that recent changes are already resulting in increased collaboration between centres and interest in Playcentre philosophy.

Key Next Steps

ERO and regional leaders agree that the organisation should continue to prioritise:

  • support for the CSW and session facilitator to promote members' understanding of programme planning and evaluation, internal evaluation, te ao Māori and implementation of a bicultural curriculum

  • further development of CSW support and reporting

  • review and further development of the appraisal process for CSWs and session facilitators.

The continuing focus on strengthening leadership, growing a sense of community, parent participation and collaboration between playcentres should continue.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Tapawera 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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to curriculum. To meet requirements the service needs to improve its performance in the following area:

  • assessment, planning and evaluation.

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008, C2

To improve current practice, the service provider should ensure:

  • forms for the administration of medication reflect the requirements of the licensing criteria

  • enrolment forms include details of children's chronic illnesses

  • risk assessment for all excursions is sufficiently comprehensive.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)

Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

9 March 2020

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 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Female 10, Male 8

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Reported ratios of adults to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

November 2019

Date of this report

9 March 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

May 2015

Education Review

April 2012

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

The overall judgement that ERO makes will depend on how well the service promotes positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed

  • Well placed

  • Requires further development

  • Not well placed

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.