You’ve seen them standing at the school gate: the local teacher on bus duty after school. Sure, they are keeping the children in line and making sure everyone is safely on their way – but have you ever wondered what else they may be thinking?
“You also have to think about what the children are doing in those two or three hours after school before their family can collect them: so whatever I offered had to be fun and safe, but also allow the possibility of homework and some quiet time before home and dinner, too.”
For Michael (Mick) Rasmussen, a former teacher at St Paul’s Catholic Primary School, bus duty afternoons turned into a life-changing decision that has created a new culture of school aged care for one of the oldest schools in the area.
“I’d be supervising at the gate and seeing the children off to their various destinations and I just couldn’t believe how many of them were climbing into buses that were headed for daycare centres,” Mick said.
“I kept thinking, there’s got to be a better solution for families than that!”
Two years later and Mick has cut back to one day a week of sports management at the school so he can manage the growth of the new Sherpa Kids before and after school care and vacation care service at St Paul’s and discuss even more services with other schools in the Narellan region.
“It just didn’t make sense to me that children would have that two step journey before they got home, but parents simply didn’t have a choice,” he said.
“As a teacher and a parent you are always thinking about risk to children, so one part of my plan was that the service St Pauls needed had to be on-site and not involve unnecessary travel.
Aware of the regulations surrounding outside school hours care under the National Quality Framework, as well as the local school and parish requirements, Mick looked for a way to open the service with professional support and found the Sherpa Kids Australia franchise network.
The Sherpa Kids team provided training in compliance, quality standards and business systems that let Mick and his team clearly plan and report to parents and the school executive.
“Mick is a fantastic addition to the Sherpa Kids team,”
“He saw the enormous potential for on-site school aged care in Narellan and put in a lot of work in research and planning, then he found Sherpa Kids Australia and got in touch.
“As a qualified primary teacher, it has been really easy for Mick to see the benefits of the themes we provide each week for the children.
“Mick also has great support from program manager Darren Brisbane and program assistant Danielle Dinham to help the whole team implement fun and enriching activities.”
St Pauls Principal, Ms Toni-Maree Sillis, said the service offered by Mick and his team “fulfilled a much needed role within the school community”.
“The children are now able to safely stay on the school site from drop off to pick up rather than travelling to another care facility,” Ms Sillis said.
“The beauty of Sherpa Kids has been the philosophy behind the care.
“This isn’t just babysitting but rather a full care service that addresses the developmental and social needs of the children.
“In addition, Sherpa Kids provides structured activities and routines that have allowed for the easy transition into the school environment each day.”
Ms Sillis said the real strength in the partnership held between St Paul’s and Sherpa came from an understanding of the values that the school was built on.
“Open, transparent and consistent communication has also enabled a strong and effective partnership to be established,” she said.
Mick said he had also been delighted with how happily families had responded to the new service.
Parents Bronwyn and Glen Parkin have two boys who attend before/after school care and vacation care at St Pauls Sherpa Kids and say having someone they trust in charge of the service makes it much easier to juggle work and family commitments.
“The activities are well-planned, diverse and engage the boys’ imaginations,” Bronwyn said.
“Before school care provides a nutritious breakfast and the boys are excited to get to school early to start the day with some fun.
“They manage to get some homework done in the afternoons before we pick them up, as well as having a snack and play. They are disappointed when we pick them up early!“