Torbay Playcentre - 16/11/2017

1 Evaluation of Torbay Playcentre

How well placed is Torbay 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.


Torbay Playcentre is a family cooperative that operates in a building with large, well maintained grounds, adjacent to an urban council reserve. The centre is licensed for 29 children, including up to 15 under two years of age. It is open for six sessions each week, including an outdoor session and a 'Star Club' session for older children.

Centre practices are based on Playcentre philosophy of families learning together. The philosophy affirms parents as valued and best educators of their children. Sessions are guided by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There is an expectation that te reo Māori will be used on session.

The centre is one of 21 in the North Shore Playcentre Association. The Association provides a management and policy framework, and centre support personnel. Playcentre Aotearoa is in the process of a national restructure and the North Shore Association is now part of Playcentre's northern region. A new regional manager has been appointed and support personnel roles and expectations are being confirmed.

Since the 2014 ERO report new centre members have maintained good practices, and continued to provide good quality programmes for children. They have focused on strengthening continuity between sessions and annual planning processes. Most members are currently enrolled in Playcentre training courses.

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

The Review Findings

Children are confident and capable learners. They engage purposefully in self-chosen play. Their developing social competence is evident in their support and concern for others, positive interactions and eagerness to learn and discover. Children share their ideas and home languages with adults and peers. They are encouraged to try things out, solve problems and be independent. 

Parents/whānau implement a play-based learning programme underpinned by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and Playcentre philosophy. Assessment and curriculum planning are responsive to children’s ideas, interests and learning styles. Children’s individual assessment portfolios are a good record of their learning journey. A variety of adults make contributions to the portfolios and share them with the children.

Parents/whānau build on children’s understanding of the world around them in meaningful ways. They nurture children’s curiosity and opportunities to learn through play. Children’s growing knowledge of literacy, numeracy, and science is extended through teachers' suggestions and support in play. There is very good support for oral language development. Creativity through art, music and drama, is also strongly encouraged.

Centre members' commitment to bicultural practices, and their embedding of te ao Māori in the programme are strengths of the centre. Adults and children use words and phrases of te reo Māori in routines, conversations and waiata. They show confidence and respect in the appropriate use of tikanga Māori. The waharoa at the entrance way depicts the whakapapa of the local area and displays inform families of the importance of Māori language and values. There is a deep respect for Papatūānuku woven through centre practices and in a focus on environmental sustainability. 

Centre members are culturally responsive and inclusive. They value the diversity of cultures and languages in the centre. Children's use of home languages is encouraged. The frequent use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is actively promoted and a feature of the centre. Adults and children include NZSL as part of everyday conversation, greetings, activities and routines.

Respectful and supportive relationships between families contribute to the sense of belonging and community in the centre. Infants benefit from nurturing, individualised care and access to all areas of the centre. Toddlers can explore, make discoveries, be independent and are quickly reassured when necessary. Older children are self-managing and have leadership opportunities.

Effective leadership and good management systems contribute to the ongoing development of the centre. Centre leaders model Playcentre philosophy. They are proactive and solution focused. Experienced centre members support newer members in understanding Playcentre philosophy, centre expectations and taking on centre leadership roles. Centre members work collaboratively and all have a voice in centre management and consensus approaches are used for decision making. Internal evaluation is increasingly purposeful and leading to improvements.

The Association management team has strong commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to having a bicultural partnership with Māori whānau. This commitment is evident in Association operations and in centre support. Centres can access funding to help them build confidence with bicultural practices. Whānau Māori are invited to join Roopu Mahi Ngātahi o Puāwai. Centre members acknowledge the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand and affirm Māori children’s cultural identity.

The Association currently has effective governance and management practices. A voluntary executive committee takes responsibility for specific management and centre support tasks. Good systems help them to monitor the quality of programmes, adult education levels, and health and safety requirements. The management team provides professional leadership to help centres respond to changes, particularly as they transition to the new national and regional structure.

Key Next Steps

Centre members have identified that key next steps are to:

  • encourage emergent leadership to support ongoing centre sustainability
  • continue to support members in Playcentre training.

Centre members also agreed that they could:

  • deepen their understanding about, and increase the rigour of, internal evaluation
  • ensure records more clearly reflect the depth of children’s thinking and continuity of learning.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

16 November 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 


Torbay, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type


Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

29 children, including up to 15 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls       22
Boys      22

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

September 2017

Date of this report

16 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

March 2014

Education Review

November 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.