Certification criteria for playgroups
Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines a playgroup as a group that meets on a regular basis to facilitate children's play and in respect of which—
- no child attends for more than 4 hours on any day; and
- more than half the children attending on any occasion have a parent or caregiver present in the same play area at the same time; and
- the total number of children attending on any occasion is not greater than 4 times the number of parents and caregivers present in the same play area at the same time.
Playgroups include Puna Kōhungahunga, cultural playgroups and community language playgroups.
Playgroups are certificated in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Playgroups) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each certificated playgroup must meet. Certification criteria are used to assess how playgroups meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.
For each criterion there is guidance to help playgroups meet the required standards.
The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 394 KB] and printed.
The certification criteria were last updated in May 2016.
HS7 Hazard management
Health and safety criterion 7
Equipment, premises and facilities are checked on every day of operation for hazards to children. Hazards to the safety of the children are eliminated, isolated or minimised.
Consideration of hazards must include but is not limited to:
- cleaning agents, medicines, poisons, and other hazardous materials
- electrical sockets
- heating appliances
- hazards present in kitchen or laundry facilities
- foreign materials (e.g. glass, animal droppings), equipment faults, vandalism, and dangerous objects
- the condition and placement of equipment
- poisonous plants
- bodies of water (such as pools or water troughs).
The purpose of this criteria is to ensure that environmental hazards are regularly checked and addressed.
Amended May 2015
Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.
A key aspect of promoting health and safety of everyone at the playgroup is hazard management. A hazard is any activity, situation or substance that can cause harm. Harm can be injury, illness or both.
As playgroups may share the venue with other groups, the hazard checklist needs to be tailored to the venue, especially areas and items that are shared – e.g. toilets, kitchen, power points and fixed furniture and equipment.
A sample list of potential hazards [DOC, 156 KB] is available as a starting point. Any hazards found should be documented and eliminated, isolated or minimised. Hazards in the playground are of particular concern in playgroups.
Supervision is an essential component of hazard and risk management in a playgroup. Supervision must be active and focussed.
The type of supervision required depends on the layout of the premises, activities being undertaken, equipment being used, the ratio of adults to children, and the number, ages and needs of children.
Direct, close and constant supervision by parents, caregivers and educators will be required if an activity includes an element of risk. For example, climbing, cooking, using ropes, cords or tools of any kind or activities near water.
Ensuring children do not have unsupervised access to hazardous equipment such as ropes, cords and tools is a key aspect of supervision. Access to any hazardous equipment must be closely monitored.
Parents, caregivers and educators should guide children on how to use equipment appropriately and safely.
Knowing children’s interests and abilities will assist parents, caregivers and educators to anticipate children’s play. Anticipating what children might do next will help parents, caregivers and educators support children if challenges or difficulties arise, and intervene if there is potential danger. To ensure risk is minimised or eliminated, parents, caregivers and educators should guide children’s behaviour and approach to play when necessary.
If an activity poses a risk, parents, caregivers and educators will use their judgement to ensure that the right kind of supervision can be provided. If close supervision cannot be provided for an activity which requires it, then parents, caregivers and educators should encourage children to modify their activity, or defer it until the appropriate level of supervision can be provided.
Parents, caregivers and educators should have regular conversations about how play is supervised in their own setting.
Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA)
If your playgroup has any paid workers, then you will have obligations under the HSWA. Additional guidance about the HSWA is available for early learning services.
Information to help you meet this criterion
Your hazard and risk management system is likely to be made up of three main processes:
- Documented daily hazard checks – inside and out
- Documented playground safety checks – possibly 4 times per year
- Regular hazard review – although your hazard register should be updated whenever new information comes available, it is useful to have a formal review, perhaps on an annual basis.
Below are some additional sources of information for support around hazard and risk management:
- WorkSafe information on risks in ECE services.(external link)
- WorkSafe bulletin on managing strangulation hazards on play equipment.(external link)
- Tips for parents and caregivers on child safety (including hot water safety)(external link) [DOC, 156 KB]
- Information about safety around plants in ECE services and which plants to avoid.(external link)
- Information on keeping children safe in the sun.(external link)
- Things to consider
Things to consider
Consider a sequential approach to hazard and risk management. For example:
- Identify hazards and risks.
- Assess the likelihood and impact of identified risks.
- Respond to hazard or risk – what will be done, when, by whom?
- Monitor and review hazard and risk management system and practices.
Issues to consider in developing a hazard and risk identification and management system to ensure hazards are assessed and addressed in an ongoing way are:
- How hazards and risks will be identified?
- How processes for updating the identification of hazards and risks on a regular basis will be updated?
- If a hazard is identified, how it will be eliminated, isolated or minimised? When will it be done? Who is responsible for this?
- What opportunity is there for parents, caregivers and educators to contribute to hazard and risk management systems, processes and practice?
- How will visitors to the service be informed about identified hazards?
- How is the maintenance of premises and equipment documented, managed and budgeted for?
- How are maintenance issues communicated to the person in charge or governance committee for any repairs or replacement?
- How are the service’s hazard and risk management checklists reviewed and used to inform the service’s management and practice, eg supervision, maintenance, repairs?