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Inclusion in Outside School Hours Care

21 February 2024

My Time Our Place, Australia’s curriculum framework for Outside of School Hours Care services (OSHC), recognises that OSHC is a home for play, leisure, key relationships, and opportunities for all children to engage in quality experiences.

Keyra Saunders and Geena Carroll from Redeemer Lutheran College Outside School Hours Care share how the foundations of their program are relationships, consistency, predictability and play to ensure the inclusion of all children.

What are the benefits for children when a team is consistent and focused on building relationships?

Children feel safe and comfortable surrounded by familiar, friendly faces. Children form trusting relationships with educators and their interactions are warm, respectful, and genuine. Our educators know every child so well that they can talk to them about their individual life experiences and achievements which helps children feel seen and valued.

What does a day in OSHC look like for a child at your service?

We offer an environment that fosters positive interactions and participation among children, staff and families to ensure that our service is welcoming for all. We have intentional environments set up, so children are making real choices about where they play, who they play with and what resources they’ll use. We have lots of loose parts to support children’s spontaneous play and interests. Mealtimes are come and go as you please with your friends for an hour in a relaxed space outside. Everything is child led, engaging and intentionally planned around children’s interests.

How does your team support the inclusion of all children?

We have an inclusion lead who has time to invest into the program, environments and staff to guide and embed inclusive practice. They do this through training staff, supporting reflective conversations at staff meetings, developing the Strategic Inclusion Plan with our Inclusion Professional and sharing the strategies with the team. One of their recent achievements that they are proud of, is setting up a quiet room with sensory toys and low lighting that children can use whenever they need to.

How has your Inclusion Professional supported your journey?

Our Inclusion Professional has been instrumental in supporting us with regular visits to help us to identify barriers and strategies, develop a Strategic Inclusion Plan and support action to create change. We were supported to navigate the portal and develop a case and we are now confident to keep our Strategic Inclusion Plan updated.

What’s next for your service?

We are engaging in an action research project to learn more about how to make OSHC even more consistent for children and educators. We are also working towards publishing our service’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Do you have any practical ideas for services wanting to improve consistency and inclusion?

I recommend taking some time to examine your own service and practices. Start by breaking down what is happening and identify what you do well and any barriers you might be experiencing. Then unpack the key areas you want to improve on and document these in the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP). Make sure that the QIP doesn’t sit solely with the Director, it should be a living document and shared regularly at team meetings to ensure everyone adds to it. Finally, make sure new staff know about it when they are inducted, they need to know, this is what we are focusing on and why. We also set a common service goal. This year our goal was ‘inclusion’.