Tokoroa Playcentre - 15/02/2016

1 Evaluation of Tokoroa Playcentre

How well placed is Tokoroa 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.


Tokoroa Playcentre is a long-established, parent-led early childhood service located in the town of Tokoroa. It is licensed to provide two morning sessions each week for the education and care of 30 children, including up to 15 children under the age of two years. At the time of this ERO review the rolls were increasing and there were 25 children on the roll, including two children under two years old. A feature of the centre is the attractive, well-maintained, spacious indoor and outdoor environment.

The centre operates under the umbrella of the East Waikato Playcentre Association (EWPA), which has responsibility for governance and aspects of centre management. The association is currently undergoing a process of restructuring. Ministry of Education (MoE) and Waikato Playcentre Association (WPA) have given assurance of continued support for Tokoroa Playcentre until the regional restructure is completed.

The ERO review in 2013 recommended MoE intervention to improve the quality of governance and management and to strengthen centre sustainability. Particular areas for development were related to:

  • EWPA governance support
  • self review
  • strategic planning
  • programme provision
  • bicultural education.

Some good progress has been made in addressing these areas for development. Since 2013 the centre has benefitted from regular and relevant professional learning and development with an experienced provider. This partnership has resulted in centre members’ growing confidence and capability to manage the centre and provide positive learning outcomes for children. There continues to be a need for ongoing support and development in these areas.

Tokoroa Playcentre members value adults and children learning together through ‘family, friendships and free play’. These values are highly evident in the life of the centre and reflect the playcentre philosophy.

The centre was returned to a full licence in November 2014 after making many improvements and addressing all compliance issues.

The Review Findings


With dedicated support and guidance from the professional development provider and a strong commitment from centre members, the centre philosophy was reviewed, developed and displayed. This process of review contributed to a clear and shared sense of direction and purpose for adults. Almost all centre members are participating in playcentre training and workshops provided by Waikato Playcentre Association.

Centre sustainability is enhanced because:

  • a number of well-qualified members have taken key leadership roles and are effectively fulfilling their responsibilities for centre management
  • experienced members are good role models for newer members, foster emerging leadership and increasingly articulate clear expectations for children and adults
  • centre policies are current, relevant and accessible
  • a documented annual plan covers essential areas to support the centre to meet MoE licensing requirements
  • self review is documented and outcomes are monitored. This has led to significant improvements to the learning environment and resources, particularly for infants and toddlers.

Children are benefitting from a more coordinated approach to programme planning and evaluation that is increasingly responding to their identified strengths and interests. Parents work well together to plan and evaluate the programme each term and to provide activities to extend children’s learning and knowledge of the wider world. A current focus is building children’s understanding of literacy and natural science.

Each child has a learning portfolio that records their participation in individual and group learning experiences. The portfolios reflect the growing understanding of parents about documenting children’s interests, progress and successes. There are some good models of learning stories that identify children’s learning and next steps for development with clear links to Te Whariki, the early childhood curriculum. Members would benefit from making use of MoE exemplars to guide and improve their understanding about documenting children’s learning.

Children make choices from a wide range of appropriate equipment. They are able to express themselves creatively with artistic materials and dramatic play. There are many opportunities for them to adventure and explore in the extensive outdoor area alongside interested and supportive adults. There is a well-presented library and a current focus on books, which reflect Māori culture and language. Children enjoy sharing reading together with adults. Attractive displays promote continuity across sessions and enable parents and children to revisit and share learning together. Centre members have worked hard collectively to present a well-maintained and interesting learning environment for adults and children.


ERO recommends that centre members continue with learning and support from the MoE during 2016 to consolidate and embed good practice. This should include a focus on:

  • strengthening programme planning and assessment, particularly for older children and boys
  • developing self-review processes linked to MoE guidelines and expectations for best practice
  • building adult knowledge and expertise in using positive guidance strategies for children
  • facilitating positive transitions for families to ensure they are well informed about playcentre philosophy when they are introduced to the centre
  • establishing meaningful connections with local iwi and learning about the rich iwi cultural heritage of Tokoroa.

In addition, documenting a strategic, long-term plan will enhance the ability of the centre to achieve long term goals for centre development and improvement. A policy review cycle could be included in this plan to ensure regular review is maintained.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

15 February 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


Tokoroa, Waikato

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

Boys 17 Girls 8

Ethnic composition







Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

15 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

September 2013


Education Review

August 2010


Education Review

June 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.