Hunter OSHC educators connect to learn and share
Joining an educator networking group encourages reflective practice and ongoing development, says Fair Play OOSH’s Rebecca Phillips.
21 July 2023
Fair Play OOSH thrives when supporting and connecting with community. That’s why collaborating with other like-minded, quality Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services is so important to Rebecca Phillips, approved provider of Fair Play OOSH and member of the Newcastle OOSH Network.
Rebecca believes that networking shouldn’t come at a cost. “Networking should be free and open to all OSHC services, whether they’re a member of a peak body, a not for profit or private service,” Rebecca said. All Fair Play OOSH services that operate across Newcastle, Port Stephens and the Hunter participate in the networking group. It’s also open to other OSHC services in the area, with up to 13 additional OSHC services joining the group at its events throughout the year.
Rebecca’s motivation for collaborating is to create an open space where educators could learn, share ideas and network for free. She started talking to other educators, coordinators and providers locally, and the networking group formed organically out of these conversations.
The group hosts meetings throughout the year and offers professional development training throughout the year. These events provide invaluable opportunities for educators to engage with their peers, seek feedback and advice, bounce ideas around and problem solve as a collective.
"We learn from each other regardless of how many years of experience we have or what our background is,” reflected Rebecca. “We are all on the same journey and coming with open sharing minds is important.”
Another aim of the group is to ensure educators feel connected with and can lean on their peers in local OSHC community for support, explained Rebecca. Collaborating between members of the networking group often extends beyond formal gatherings, with services even sharing staff when others need additional staffing.
Celebrating educators and quality practice is also key for Rebecca and other members of the networking group. The collective actively acknowledge the hard work services do to ensure children receive high-quality education and care. “Our staff are number one all 365 days of the year and know, day in and day out, how appreciated they are by us as providers,” said Rebecca.
If you’re considering creating your own networking group, whether you work in OSHC or another service type, Rebecca offers these key tips to assist you: “Be open to all services in your area attending, have an agenda and stick to it, and ensure buy-in is from all services attending.” She also emphasised the importance of creating a positive culture within the network, and ensuring all members share a similar mindset and a willingness to engage in open conversation.
With National OOSH Educators Day – an initiative of Network of Community Activities – fast approaching, Rebecca also spoke about the importance of marking the occasion to acknowledge her team. Families and the community will also be invited to join the celebrations so they, too, can show their appreciation for their local OSHC educators.