Educator In the Spotlight: Harriet McAllister

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  Published on Tuesday, 09 June 2020

Educator In the Spotlight: Harriet McAllister

Library Home  >  Industry Interviews
  Published on Tuesday, 09 June 2020
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What is your name and which service do you work in?

My name is Harriet McAllister but everyone calls me Harri and I am 34 years young! I am the Nominated Supervisor at Guardian Childcare & Education Phillip Street

What is your professional background and career experience?

I started off working in social work when I lived in my home country of Scotland within the juvenile detention system. This was aimed at children between the ages of 11-16 who were too young to be entered in to the adult prison system but had committed crimes that were deemed serious enough to be segregated form society to protect themselves and others from serious harm.

What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?

When I emigrated to Australia 8 years ago, I decided to move toward the early education sector for a change. I quickly fell in love with nurturing and guiding children through the early years!

What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?

Day to day, I will arrive at work and spend some time talking with my families and having a catch up. Most mornings you will find me on the floor spending time with the children and allowing the educators to go on their breaks by covering them in the rooms. Mid-day to early afternoon I’m in the office setting rosters, doing wages and other administration before hopping back on the floor in the afternoons.

What makes your service unique?

We have a very diverse centre with people from all walks of life. Our educators are from all over the world and have children of many different backgrounds. Being a city corporate centre, we do have a lot of families who are involved in the legal services and government sector. 

We are always very keen on running fundraising days, PJ days and other interactive way to connect with the community. Recently, we launched the PenPalPlatform as featured in The Sector. This was a great way of creating wonder and excitement during the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing children to connect with other Guardian centres nationwide.

What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?

I love working in early childhood as I get to play a fundamental role in a child’s most important stages of development. Being able to unleash my inner child from Monday to Friday is liberating as well!

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?

The challenges that we face in the sector come from not having widespread recognition of our profession. It frustrates me that there is little coverage in the media for the challenges that early education has suffered, especially in the midst of the COVID pandemic and that we are often forgotten about as frontline workers who come to work every day, in order to allow parents to work, children to learn and do it all for minimum wages and no recognition.

High staff turnover across the board is also a challenge. I am very blessed at this service to have a very stable team who have been here for years, however not everyone is that lucky.

How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?

During these challenges we continue to put our best foot forward and operate a wonderfully welcoming environment, with a strong team of educators and pride ourselves on being non-judgemental, supportive and fun!

How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?

Simply put? A much better regard for the extremely rewarding but very challenging work that we do!

What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?

Embrace new challenges as they come and don’t be scared to try! Professional development, no matter how small is development none the less so absorb as much of it as you possibly can. Ask questions, be flexible, be bold, be kind and courteous and have the confidence to believe in yourself!

Sometimes working in early education can feel like a spiral of crazy days, though for me when I see a child take their first steps, look at the expressions of wonder on a child’s face when they learn something new and exciting and then to be greeted everyday by cuddles and kisses reminds me that this job, giving the gift of learning is the biggest gift of all.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020

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