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, 1.1 MB] and printed.
The certification criteria were last updated in September 2022.
PF3 Variety of equipment
Premises and facilities criterion 3
A variety of furniture, equipment, and materials is provided that is appropriate for the learning and abilities of the children attending.
An equipment inventory maintained to at least show equipment purchased with Ministry of Education funds.
The criteria is intended to ensure that children attending playgroups have access to a wide range of suitable and safe equipment and materials.
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.
Children learn by interacting with people and with their environment. The furniture, equipment, and resources you provide will influence their learning and the way they view themselves and others. Your choice of furniture, equipment and resources can help you to meet the curriculum standard.
View the Ministry’s basic equipment list for playgroups.
Think about how the furniture, equipment, and resources provided at your playgroup:
- reflect the Māori culture of Aotearoa New Zealand
- makes all cultures feel welcome
- encourage written and spoken language
- avoids limiting children based on their gender or ability
- supports parents and caregivers' aspirations for their children’s learning
- reflects the playgroup’s philosophies and aims
- can be used to allow children to explore attitudes and feelings
- allows children to play individually, in groups and with others
- allows children to make choices and be involved in planning and problem solving
- encourage and support a variety of learning possibilities.
Consider a balance between natural products and man-made equipment and materials. Quality is an important consideration when you are choosing equipment and materials. Think about the following in relation to the equipment you use:
- How useful is it?
- Can you store it?
- Can it be cleaned easily?
- Is it safe?
- Is it sufficient for the numbers and ages of the children?
- Does it encourage children to play?
- Will it stand the ‘test of time’ – is it durable?
- Is the furniture comfortable for adults as well as children?
Although plastic products can be cheaper and easy to clean, they may not last as long or have the same aesthetic appeal as products made from natural materials. Buying quality materials at the start will save money in the long run.
The type and quantity of furniture, equipment, and materials will differ from one playgroup to another. Children should be able to access equipment and materials that support their interests, skills and abilities.
Display materials in boxes, containers or baskets and group similar materials together so that children can quickly choose between them. Label containers clearly so that adults know where to put equipment. When setting up a playgroup session, create areas for the different activities and interests of the children, and set them up so children can move easily from one activity to the next.
Things to consider – outdoor equipment
When you are thinking about the type of outdoor equipment to provide for children, keep in mind that the outdoor area at your playgroup does not serve the same function as a public playground. Equipment will need to engage and challenge children for greater periods of time and be flexible enough for children to construct their own learning. Flexible, moveable equipment allows children choice and control over how their learning environment is set up. Moveable equipment also encourages co-operation between children, and provides opportunities for problem solving.
The documentation required for this criteria is an inventory. An inventory is a list of items owned by the group. For easy use the inventory can be divided into areas: e.g. furniture, books, indoor equipment, creative play, music, outdoor equipment, kitchen equipment.
Groups should check their inventories regularly – at least annually. Lost or broken equipment needs to be recorded as part of an inventory check and follow-up action noted.
An example of an inventory list can be found at the bottom of this page.
If a playgroup closes they will need to identify equipment purchased with Ministry of Education funds. The inventory can be used to maintain a record of these purchases.
An up-to-date inventory can help you when you are buying new equipment.
You may need to keep track of equipment for insurance purposes. It is useful to check with the owner of the playgroup venue to see if playgroup equipment is covered by their insurance policy.
Insurance is a specialised topic. Each playgroup will have different insurance requirements and you should seek independent legal advice about yours, particularly for matters relating to public liability. Playgroups can undertake their own risk assessment to guide their insurance decisions. The following questions can be useful starting points for discussion:
- What are possible/potential occurrences at playgroup that could result in loss/damage/injury? Can we mitigate against these through Health and Safety policies and practices?
- What is the value of the playgroup equipment? How much would it cost to replace?
- What is the potential for significant damage or loss?