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Is OSHC the middle child of the sector? Doreen Blyth challenges both early years and middle years educators

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Even if you don’t work in OSHC, this story is important: or maybe ‘especially if …’

Like the stereotypical middle child, is middle childhood suffering from not being noticed, or is it a lot more than that?

Think about this to set the scene:

The OSHC experience should complement the child’s school, family and community experiences, as childhood and learning are best supported when there is continuity and when various experiences and settings complement one another.

Kennedy and Stone, Shared Visions, 2007

At a recent professional meeting I attended, I noticed a participant getting quietly but visibly agitated every time someone said, ‘early childhood’ or ‘ECEC’. When I asked if she was okay, she whispered, ‘this isn’t good enough’.

After the session, she explained to me:

‘I am an Educational Leader in an OSHC and I am tired of going to meetings and learning sessions where what I do is at best ignored, and more commonly, showed no respect.

‘I have tried my very best to participate in the profession but I get tired of this kind of treatment. I should have said to everyone in there [at the meeting] that they are giving plenty of support to the early childhood people but nothing at all to OSHC. I shouldn’t have to say anything, but it seems I do – I am repeating myself over and over. ‘

This OSHC Educational Leader went on:

‘Middle childhood seems like an extension of early childhood but we are dealing with a totally different knowledge set. Middle childhood is a specialty in its own right. That thinking is not professional arrogance, it is a well-developed response to what we do.

‘In OSHC we deal with complex social and emotional development issues, complicated by children growing toward teenage years and all that means. We are guiding much of the children’s life learning, and often supporting their families, through this.

‘In meetings and learning sessions for my work as a leader I have stopped looking to the education and care sector for professional learning and support unless it is about the much younger children. I am looking to the youth sector and to health for the older children. I have no choice.’

I think Kennedy and Stone  were right back in 2007 – the OSHC experience does work best when it works with the child’s whole experience.

I think the Educational Leader was right – they are guiding social and emotional learning through play and other experiences in the OSHC.

I think the framers of the National Quality Framework were right – having OSHC in this hub of children’s education and care does support continuity of that learning and provides a set of standards of practice for it.

Do you ‘do’ transition to school?  So why not to OSHC?

If you work in an OSHC, this may resonate with you.

 If you are in an early learning service, kindergarten or family day care, this is incredibly important thinking that you need to get across.


Many of you will, as the year unfolds, work on the transition of preschool aged children in your school. This is a significant program every year for many educators and their families.

Apart from giving parents the phone number, are you managing the child and family transition to OSHC?

Do you know what the OSHC educators do to introduce Foundation Year children to before and/or after school sessions? Have you ever connected with them directly about the children who are leaving your service in the way you might with school teachers?

How is it ‘supporting transitions’ if we are only doing half the job?

After the meeting that prompted this post I asked our OSHC Educational Leader where an early learning service should start.

She immediately came back with:

‘Start with the people. Our specialty is as much underpinned by the relationships as it is in an early childhood service.  Come and see us. Learn about what we know and what we can offer families. If you talk to families about who we are, and what we have to offer, they will feel more confident and the children will pick up on that – the children will benefit.’

Did you know?

The core units from the Diploma, Children’s Services (OSHC) include:

  • Foster physical development in middle childhood
  • Foster social development in middle childhood
  • Support emotional and psychological development in middle childhood
  • Foster cognitive development in middle childhood
  • Work in partnership with families to provide appropriate care for children.

My challenge to you!

Here’s your challenge if you’re an early childhood educator: can you connect with an OSHC educator and coordinate your transition to school process?

And here’s your challenge as an OSHC educator: can you, like the OSCH Education Leader who guided me to this thinking, explain the value of what you do to your early years colleagues?

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Further reading

Anne Kennedy and Anne Stonehouse Shared Visions for Outside School Hours Care Victorian Government 2007

Doreen Blyth

STAFF / AGENT Doreen is a senior consultant in the education and care sector and is Policy Advisor (vol.) to the Educational Leaders Association. Doreen’s previous roles include Principal Policy Officer – Children’s Services with the WA Government, with national and state level participation in the development of the National Quality Framework including the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations.She has significant experience in children and family services management in small and very large services as well as in services supporting vulnerable communities. She has significant experience in sector and agency policy development, implementation and review and has taken a leading role in projects that focus on the delivery of policy outcomes and outcomes measurement.

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10 thoughts on “Is OSHC the middle child of the sector? Doreen Blyth challenges both early years and middle years educators

  1. That’s it exactly. The OSHC sector has been ignored for years. We are a different childcare.

  2. Good Morning,
    Thank you for putting some focus on OOSH services. Everything I read is all that my staff and myself discuss on a regular basis as to ‘ middle child’ of the sector and how we (OOSH) miss out or are overlooked. We are finally having our thoughts and voice put out there. Cant wait for more reading and discussion. Well done CCC.

  3. Thank you for bringing this to light.
    It reminded me of the times when long day care was over looked and it was all about Kinder, and how those of us needed to really be proactive in our approach with schools to get in there and build partnerships around transition.
    This has actioned me to also include OSHC as part of our transition and I will be contacting our local school’s OSCH program to start building a relationship.
    I encourage those in OSHC to also be proactive and reach out to early learning services and advocate for what you do.

  4. Hi Chelsea – great question. Do you have some thoughts on the answer? We’d like to explore that further. Bec Lloyd.

  5. Hi – its me again
    I have been tweeting on Middle Childhood and OSHC, and have started a new hashtag to gather conversations on OSHC together :
    if you want to join in – feel free
    Cheers Doreen

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