James Horgan - Greenwood Scoresby

Published on Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Last updated on Wednesday, 08 December 2021

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What is your full name and where do you work?

My name is James Horgan and I am 28 years old, I'm known simply as James by the children.

I work for Greenwood Scoresby in Victoria and we have 90 licensed places with more than 20 educators. My room caters for more than 22 children and myself and Stephanie, the assistant educator, are in the Kinder room.

What is your professional background and career experience?

I received my Bachelor of Early Years Education from Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland in 2014, at which time I moved to Australia to be with my family who emigrated in 2012 during Ireland's big recession. I found my feet at Community Kids Heathmont in January 2015 and haven't looked back.

Since then I have been in a video for the Department of Education and worked as part of the team who helped to deliver new technology systems to families. I've also been nominated as a G8 workplace champion to support the delivery of new projects, helping to train other services and teachers from the local area.

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

I used to work part time as a butcher, then as a baker while I studied so I would work all weekends and most Thursday and Friday evenings to help put myself through college. I have always had a passion for teaching and have always been a strong advocate for the early years. It's amazing to think that 80 per cent of our brain development in done is the early years - who wouldn't want to be a part of this crucial time and be the first cog in a child's journey of education?

What does a 'normal' day look like for you?

I don't believe there is such a thing as a normal day for me - each and everyday is full of new learning and possibilities for both me and the children in my care. We could be woodworking today, learning sign language tomorrow and spend the next day planting flowers and learning about how to care for them.

We build our program around the interests of the children as well as school readiness experiences and we also try to get lots of input from families too so that we can have a well-rounded, educational and fun program at all times.

What makes your service unique?

At our service we are lucky enough to be in the beautiful Caribbean Park, so we have access to communal BBQs which we frequent weekly to have snags or burgers and salad. We also have a café nearby who are always so great about letting us join them for babycinos as we share our news and stories from the week.

As we are quite a new service (opened July 2018) our facilities and resources are state of the art and we even use slideshows and PowerPoint presentations to bring visual aids to our group experiences. It is so great to be learning about a butterfly life cycle and as we are discussing it to have a GIF of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon to back up what we are talking about.

The bonds and connections between all of the rooms here at Greenwood Scoresby are also important as we often have days where rooms will combine for experiences or excursions. This is also amazing for siblings and friends from other rooms to spend time together. We even have an outdoor environment which has four walls and a ceiling but without those you would think you were outside. It boasts a soccer pitch and goals, a basketball hoop, sandpit, water feature, cubby house and more - this area is a fantastic backup to our actual outdoor area so that if it is ever 38 degrees in summer or if there is thunder, rain and lightning, we always have an accessible outdoor environment.

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

The main advantage of working in the early years is that we have the opportunity to help grow and develop the minds of the future. I still remember what my Kinder teacher showed me as a child, so to be able do that for others and to teach them from experiences that are worthwhile and will help them in the future is very special.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?

Losing great teachers and educators to other jobs like primary school teaching and even to other sectors due to poor pay conditions would have to be one of the biggest challenges our sector faces.

How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?

My service is part of G8 education who will often go above and beyond to retain educators and teachers. They pay ECTs above award rates and just last year they introduced a new employee app called playground which can give you 5-10 per cent off most shops like Kmart, Coles, Big W and more. This may not sound like much at the start but if you work out 5 per cent of your weekly shopping bill and then multiply that by 52 weeks a year the savings can be huge so things like this can be a big help to educators that they may not get in other jobs.

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

In the long term, better pay and better recognition for the work we do is the way forward - it is just that simple. You look at countries like Denmark and Sweden that have some of the best early childhood systems in the world, including free education from 6 weeks to 18 years which allows families to work and ensures less financial strain on families. For the children it ensures they are in the education system longer and a more educated workforce when they finish school and University to help drive their economies forward.

Educators are better paid and respected in their jobs also which helps to ensure talented and brilliant educators stay in the sector and are not lost to other jobs. This also supports the standard of care and education in their services to grow and become stronger and stronger. Apologies for such a long answer, I get quite passionate about my job!

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

I would like to tell them that working in early childhood education and care is tough, you will always be learning and it can be quite demanding, but you will never find a more rewarding job which is always full of surprises and exciting 24/7!

If there is one last thing I can say it is this: being a good educator or teacher is never a one-person job. I have received some praise recently since becoming G8's Educator of the Year for Victoria but I would not be able to do what I do everyday if it wasn't for my management team (Marta, Leah, and Pavi) supporting me each day. I could not take part in extra programs and trainings unless I knew my room was in safe hands so I must thank Stephanie for that.

The families and children in my care also make up for a huge part of what I do each day and deserve a thank you for being so amazing and supportive each day. A special mention has to be given to my fiancé Rebecca (who also works in the Early Years Sector) as much of what I do like training and planning is done outside of hours. Without Rebecca backing me to be the best I could be I would not be the Teacher I am today - Thank you Bec.

I'd like to finish with a quote for everyone which always gets me through tough days when I am tired and worn down from busy week after busy week.

"You can't stop waves, but you can learn to surf."

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