The latest news, views and reviews for Australia's child care industry. June 18, 2013
child care industry
Child care person in the spotlight
Jan Marxsen Co-ordinator of Outside School Hours Care at John Paul College in Brisbane QLD

Jan MarxenChild care professionals share a commitment to improving society by creating dynamic and nurturing care environments for Australia's youngest learners. This month we feature an interview with Jan Marxsen

What is your name?

My name is Jan Marxsen and I am 55 years old.

Which centre do you work in? How many staff and children are in the Centre?

I am the Co-ordinator of Outside School Hours Care at John Paul College. John Paul College is one of Queensland's largest and most progressive private, independent, co-educational schools with a reputation for offering K-Year 12 students a contemporary learning experience, supported by comprehensive co-curricular performing arts and sporting programs and a leading Notebook Computer Program. Our campus is located in Daisy Hill, south-east of Brisbane and north of the Gold Coast.

Our outside school hours care program caters for students from Prep-Year 7. Our service is highly important to the parents of the college and in our before school program we care for up to 90 children each morning and in the afternoon session approximately 130 children.

Our vacation care program is extremely popular and we can have up to 110 children book in for any special event day.

I have a team of twelve dedicated educators who work tirelessly and support me to ensure the children who attend our program are well cared for.

What was your professional background and career experience?

I have been proudly associated with John Paul College for the last twenty years. I began my educational career as a teachers aide in year one and this role lasted for 13 years. I eventually progressed to assisting in after school care each afternoon and during this time I became the assistant co-ordinator at OSHC and seven years ago I was offered the role of co-ordinator. I hold a Certificate of Early Childhood, Certificate III in Children's Services and a Diploma in Children's Services.

What attracted you to a career in child care?

My two children were attending John Paul College. I participated in the “parent roster program” operating in the primary school and enjoyed it so much, that I approached Mrs. Noeleen Munns, head of primary at the time, to enquire if there were any teacher aide positions available. She suggested I enrol in the Certificate of Early Childhood and hence my career in education began. Twenty years later, I still enjoy working with children!!

What does a normal day look like for you?

My day usually begins at 6:30am. Our school care room is set up and the children arrive from 7:00am. Our morning program is busy with inside/outside play and this takes us until 9:00am. We usually have a staff de-briefing to discuss issues from the morning and complete our evaluation and observations. My staff leave after this as most of them are university students and I work for the rest of the morning on a variety of jobs e.g. administration work, planning, evaluations, student portfolios, rosters, working on the next vacation care program or attending network meetings.

The new National Quality Framework takes up a lot of my time and I usually take a break from around lunch time through until 2:00pm. After school care operates from 2:30-6:00pm and as I am in direct contact with the children throughout both sessions my days are very full, but very fulfilling.

What makes your Centre unique?

The most unique thing about our centre is the positive relationships which exist between the staff, parents and children at OSHC. This is the most rewarding aspect of my job and witnessing these relationships grow and develop over time between the staff, parents and children is amazing. The OSHC program at John Paul College is built on respect – respect to the children, respect to the parents and respect to each other as staff members. If the children are respected, they are happy and behaviour issues are lessened. All educators are respectful of each other and value each other's opinions and skills. The parents are respected and we listen to them and work together if issues arise. John Paul College as a whole is a large family and we treat everyone who visits our centre as a valuable family member. This is what makes us unique.

We recently participated in the assessment for the National Quality Framework. John Paul College Outside School Hours Care achieved EXCEEDING NATIONAL QUALITY STANDARD in all seven Quality Areas. I am very proud of all of our educators and to have had our hard work recognised at the highest standard.

We were commended on our achievements in providing quality outcomes for children, in particular for Innovative Programs for Sustainability, Strong Relationships with the Community and for Embedding Indigenous Learning in the Program.

What are some of the advantages of working in the child care sector?

Well it certainly isn't the money!! Having personal fulfilment in my career makes me feel rich. It is truthful to say, there is never a day I don't want to go to work. If you can make a difference in the life of one child, you have achieved something.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the child care sector?
I feel the biggest challenge in the OSHC environment at the moment is to change the thinking about outside school hours care and encourage people to extend their vision of OSHC and to accept it as a learning environment.

Some people are uncomfortable with a description of an OSHC service as a learning environment. This may be partly because they associate learning with school and academics. Their image of a learning environment may also be incompatible with their idea of OSHC as a place to play, socialise with friends, have fun and relax. OSHC at its best is all of these things and a rich learning environment as well.

It is a place for learning about yourself, others and the world – in other words, learning about living and learning through living. This view of learning is one that places great importance on relationships, developing and strengthening talents and interests and a view of children as contributing members of the community.

The My Time, Our Place - Framework for School Age Care in Australia has been a positive step in promoting collaborative relationships and partnerships between school age care services and their schools. I don't think enough people understand the role and responsibilities OSHC educators have in the lives of children. Educators have had to attend numerous meetings on how to implement the new Framework over the last twelve months and, if other centres are like us, they have spent massive amounts of hours outside what they are paid for to ensure everything is finalised for their assessment visit. I feel we are a giant classroom and should be recognised as such. We are just as important as a child care centre or kindergarten centre.

It was extremely gratifying to recently receive a letter from a parent at my school commenting that she viewed OSHC as so much more than a child minding service and for those families that have both parents working (and these numbers are increasing) OSHC provides a unique opportunity for children to learn and use a different set of skills than in the classroom or on the sporting field. Children get the opportunity to mix with a range of students from different year levels, they learn how to make decisions about how their time is spent, choose to involve others in an activity or to be independent, participate in new activities and experience different perspectives or cultures.

At Outside School Hours Care programs, children have a range of experiences that are now supported by a framework which supports their joy of learning, challenges and tests them, can delight and excite them, teaches and reinforces in them the values of school. Children don't realise all of this, they just have fun.

OSHC programs are important and an asset to school communities and can be an integral part of the reason why a family will choose a particular school. To be able to keep providing quality outcomes for children, OSHC co-ordinators and educators should be better remunerated for their contributions to the education of children. Better sustainable employment opportunities within the school age care setting should be made available to keep good educators in OSHC.

How has your Centre changed to deal with these challenges?
I have had many meetings with the Principal of John Paul College and the Head of Primary School to discuss the My Time, Our Place – Framework for School Age Care. They have been extremely supportive of all the initiatives we needed to implement over the last twelve months and without their support we may not have been able to achieve our outstanding results in the National Quality Framework Assessment.

The educators who work at this Centre have to be congratulated as well. They all gave 110 per cent to ensure they understood the Framework, the Regulations and worked tirelessly to provide quality outcomes for the children who attend our service. They continue to demonstrate their commitment to quality to make this service what it is today.

Two of the areas we worked on consistently were embedding sustainability practices and Indigenous learning into our program. We invited an Aboriginal Elder to join our team and the children love to spend time with Aunty Robyn learning about aboriginal culture, spending time in the yarning circle and painting rocks etc. to beautify our aboriginal garden.

How does the industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?
Consideration has to be given to finding ways to keep experienced educators in the OSHC environment. I fully appreciate the need to raise quality and drive continuous improvement in early childhood education and care and school age care services, but to keep this happening the industry needs to raise wages and recognise the dedication these special people give to setting a very high standard of care for the children in their centres.

What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career in child care?
If you don't have a genuine love for children, stay where you are!! Working in this industry is a privilege. Everyday parents entrust the care of their child to us. Take the time to learn from experienced educators, learn to laugh and most of all listen to the children and take the time to learn what is important to them.

Do you work with someone who deserves to be profiled in an upcoming edition of our newsletter? If so let us know by emailing All of the child care professionals we interview will receive a selection of DVD's for their service courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment.
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