Tomarata Playcentre - 30/06/2017

1 Evaluation of Tomarata Playcentre

How well placed is Tomarata 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.


Tomarata Playcentre operates as a family cooperative as part of the North Shore Playcentre Association. It is located in a rural setting with spacious grounds near Wellsford. The centre is licensed for 30 children including 15 up to two years of age and is open for two sessions per week.

The Playcentre philosophy affirms parents as valued and best educators of their children. Sessions are guided by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. There is an expectation that te reo and tikanga Māori will be included during sessions. Recently the Association has undertaken to make professional development available, to support centre members in learning and using New Zealand Sign Language.

The North Shore Playcentre Association manages centres’ funding and provides a training programme for parents/whānau to achieve Playcentre qualifications. It also has good systems to support centre members to manage their centres and to provide good quality educational programmes for children. The national Playcentre organisation is currently undergoing a restructure. There will be a new regional manager and new centre support roles.

Since the 2013 ERO report centre members have redeveloped the outdoor area and made improvements to the building. They have strengthened Learning Evaluation, Assessment Planning (LEAP) processes and continued to use self review to guide decision making. While there have been changes in membership, whānau have continued to focus on providing an exciting, well-resourced environment to support children's learning. They encourage each other to undertake Playcentre adult education courses. All members are currently enrolled in courses to improve their training levels.

This review was part of a cluster of six reviews in the North Shore Playcentre Association.

The Review Findings

Children at this centre are capable and confident young learners. They have fun, play well in groups and are eager to learn. Adults provide extra resources, suggestions and encouragement to foster children's curiosity, problem solving and sustained play. Children show concern about and interest in others and their ideas. They experience a stimulating, well resourced environment that provides many opportunities for them to explore, try things out and make discoveries.

Children are encouraged to choose their involvement in activities, resources and play scenarios. Adults and children of mixed ages actively engage in play during the session. Older children play cooperatively, toddlers are free to learn through exploration and infants are included in all aspects of play.

Adults support children's developing oral language and provide meaningful opportunities for them to explore literacy and mathematics. Children engage in planned and spontaneous activities that build on their knowledge of science concepts and appreciation for the natural world, including environmental sustainability. Creative expression and a love of learning are nurtured.

Respectful, caring and highly supportive relationships between adults and children nurture children’s emotional wellbeing and social competence. Children's play is valued as learning and enthusiastically supported by adults. Children's Adults encourage cooperative play and model strategies for positive conflict resolution. They move quickly to comfort children, affirm children’s feelings and promote self esteem. Children of all ages are secure approaching and working with adults other than their own parents. Children show trust and confidence in their interactions with peers and adults.

Centre members ensure the centre runs as an effective family cooperative. Management and administration responsibilities are clear and shared. There is very good record keeping and regular health and safety checks. Centre members are eager to engage in Playcentre adult education, and use new knowledge. Planning reflects Playcentre philosophy, theories of learning and links to Te Whariki, the early childhood curriculum. Children’s individual assessment portfolios shows their engagement in individual and group learning experiences. A variety of adults contribute to portfolios which are often used by children and whānau to revisit children’s learning and development.

There is a strong sense of community, ownership and belonging in the centre. Adults share an enthusiasm for play and learning along with their children in the welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Centre members are highly supportive of each other in the education and care of their children. Experienced members and association personnel share their knowledge and centre expectations with newer members and encourage them to take on leadership roles.

The Association management team has a strong commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and having a bicultural partnership with whānau Māori. This commitment is evident in Association operations and in the support provided for centres. Adults’ and children’s familiarity with te reo and tikanga Māori is encouraged. Centre members look for ways to include te ao Māori throughout the programme. They are keen to continue to strengthen their bicultural practices.

Experienced members provide effective leadership and work collaboratively to manage the Playcentre. They willingly share share their knowledge and expertise with new parents and appreciate the strong support they have received from the Association.

The Association provides effective governance and management structures for the centres. There are good systems in place to monitor the quality of sessions, adult education levels, and health and safety requirements. The management team demonstrates the professional leadership necessary to help the centres respond to change, including the restructure of the national Playcentre organisation.

Key Next Steps

Key next steps for centre members are to:

  • make the extension of children’s individual interests and continuity of learning more evident in planning and evaluation records

  • strengthen the inclusion of te ao Māori throughout the centre programme

  • embed and strengthen internal evaluation to guide decision making.

To help enhance practices in all North Shore Playcentres, new regional support personnel should consider ways to support members to:

  • increase their bicultural understanding and integration of te reo me ōna tikanga Māori

  • improve their understanding and use of internal evaluation as a tool to guide and improve practices.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Violet Tu'uga Stevenson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

30 June 2017 

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 


Wellsford, Auckland

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 9 Girls 4

Ethnic composition



Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements

Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

30 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)


Education Review

November 2013

Education Review

October 2010

Education Review

November 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.