Scotch confident it can staff new childcare venture

NEW CHILDCARE: Plans are underway for a new childcare centre in Mount Gambier. Photo: File

By Elisabeth Champion

AN Adelaide private school which has its sights set on the south-east is optimistic that it will be able to staff a proposed an early learning centre, despite massive staff shortage in the industry across the state.

Scotch Enterprises, a commercial subsidiary of Scotch College, has lodged a planning application at Suttontown Rd for Beyond Early Learning, a centre which will cater for children from six months of age through to school age.

Demand for the service is high, with waitlists for childcare spots in the region stretching out for 12 months and longer, but with a state-wide staff shortage, Beyond Early Learning Head of Operations Tania Darling said attracting staff was something they would be focusing on.

“Staffing is something that it doesn’t matter where you are, staffing is a big challenge in childcare and it will be more of a challenge for us in regional areas, we know that, we’ve thought about that and we have plans around that,“ she said.

“At the end of the day, there are limited educators so for us, it is about providing an opportunity for them to be able to work in an environment that not only supports them professionally but supports them personally and gives them the tools to care for the children in a way that really is satisfying for them, and for them to be part of a culture that is really wonderful.

“We can have input into that, we can do that, and do that to the best of our ability.

“We can’t manage the things outside of our control, and we have a number of ideas around how we develop that culture and become a place that staff want to be.“

While the process is still in the early stages, Ms Darling said the idea was a “no-brainer“

“When we decided to go and start a commercial division of the college, it was a no brainer that childcare is something we could move into as well because we had expertise in this area and it’s really nice to be able to spread some of what we know with a much wider community,“ she said.

“On top of that, we have always had a strong relationship with the south-east through the college’s boarding program and then one of the people in our department, Scotch International Education director of operations Kelly Sharp, comes from Mount Gambier, so it was kind of like the stars were all aligning.

“Kelly was able to organise for us to meet with some local people in the area and it seemed as though we could work well together, and it went from there really.

“We are hearing that there was a shortage and reading about it and it’s not as easy as saying “alright we will put a child care centre in Mount Gambier“, but the fact that we had local connections then made that whole process easier and we were able to move forward.“

While there is little known about the plans, Ms Draling said nature-based play was a big part of the vision for the centre.

“Our whole philosophy is about wellbeing and we know that children’s wellbeing is very much enhanced through connections to the outdoors, so our centres will be very much designed around the children having access to the outdoors to the most part of every day,“ she said.

“There will be no differentiation between the indoors and the outdoors, it will just flow and children will be able to self manage where they think they need to be during the day.“

The Beyond Early Learning approval process is still in its early stages, with Scotch Enterprises currently seeking its Approved Provider License through the Education Standards Board, and the development application in Mount Gambier still needing approval.

Once the necessary approvals are obtained, the timing to open the centre will be clarified.