Child Studies Partnership
For over ten years, Darwin High School Teacher and Faculty Senior for Health/PE, Penny Mcintyre, has been working with respected early childhood educator, Louise de Bomford-Scott. Together they provide Senior Secondary students with hands on experiences in the child care sector. Two years ago, Louise opened La Crèche on the Avenue Childcare Centre & Preschool, and Darwin High students in the Stage 1 and 2 Child Studies courses visit regularly throughout the year.
‘The partnership gives students insight and an opportunity to see how the industry really works,’ says Louise. ‘Students are initially provided with an induction and tour of the centre. This includes a comprehensive briefing on occupational health and safety and key policies and procedures in the centre, such as hygiene practices’.
Students also have the opportunity to ask questions of Louise and other centre staff about all elements of working in the sector. ‘Students can ask us about the pathways available in the sector and how to get started. Many students are inspired to pursue a school-based qualification so they can transition to working full-time in the sector.'
Up to 28 students can visit the centre at a time, choosing from one of the nine rooms that accommodate children at different stages of development — from toddlers through to preschool aged children.
‘The students from Darwin High observe the children and interact with them to find out what their interests are and eventually join in and build on what the children are doing. This is usually activities such as story-telling, blocks, colouring in, crafts and playing on our outdoor equipment’
As part of the Child Studies course, students plan and implement their own activity with the children and then reflect on how it went. Feedback from students involved in the partnership is consistently positive:
‘It’s a great experience to play with the kids.’ Jessica, Year 11 student
‘I want to be a teacher and it’s great to have the real experience of what it is like to work with children.’ Erini, Year 11 Student
‘I get to see what it is like to look after children. It gives me an idea of the responsibility involved when I have my own.’ Sylvia, Year 11 Student
The children at the centre also benefit from the partnership. ‘The kids love it!’ says Nahid, a worker at the centre. 'It’s great to have the students here.'
‘We have many visitors to the centre for a variety of reasons. Having students regularly come and work with the children helps the children adjust and means it is less disruptive,’ says Louise.
‘Our partnership with Darwin High is quite unique and isn’t common place in the industry. It’s important that people choose to work in the industry for the right reasons. The best way to find out if it’s the right pathway is to have hands-on, real world experiences.’