While teachers work, their children play

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Catholic Education Office Sydney staff breezed through two days of professional development after the organisation enlisted a childcare provider for the first time to help them attend.

The initiative allowed the Leaders of Learning – who support the professional learning of teachers from the Archdiocese’s 150 schools – to complete the training in the school holidays without having to find alternate care for their children.

While their parents worked through the program at St Fiacre’s Catholic Primary Leichhardt from April 16, about 12 children revelled in the party atmosphere created by staff from Extend Before & After School Care. They sang karaoke, painted, tie-dyed T-shirts and built remote control cars.

The kids couldn’t speak highly enough of it over the dinner table

– Vivienne Simnos, Leader of Learning

Director of Human Resources for the Catholic Education Office Sydney, Jane Comensoli, said the organisation was pleased to provide a family-friendly work environment.

“It’s a great support for the teaching community, to be able to do their professional development and know that their children are well looked after,” she said.

Eastern Region Vocational Education Leader of Learning, Carol Amorim, said she was grateful to be able to send her son Ryan, 10, to the program.

“It suited me because I wouldn’t have had any other option for my son,” she said.

“This just made it stress free, which is a blessing.”

Mrs Amorim said Ryan had asked to go back to the program for a second day, where he made a remote control car.

“They would have been talking about the mechanics, the science, the motion,” she said.

“I don’t think he realised he was learning while he was playing. He was really impressed.”

EALD (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) Eastern Region Leader of Learning Vivianne Simnos’ children Adam, 11, and Sarah, 12, formed friendships with other children over the two days.

“It’s been fabulous,” she said.

“The kids couldn’t speak highly enough about it over the dinner table.”

“We usually have to care for our kids during the school holiday time, and now that we’re returning to work two day of that school vacation break it’s just fabulous that we can bring our kids to work with us.

“There’s no having to detour to other places, you can spend some time with them in the car and they feel very comforted by the fact that we’re here with them.”

As a cluster coach, Amanda Tinson works with school leadership teams to enhance literacy and numeracy learning at schools in Sydney’s east. Her family live interstate so she is without alternate help on days where he does not have scheduled day care.

“I don’t usually work on Thursdays so I didn’t have care for him, but this meant that I could come to this professional learning day,” she said.

“I think this is a good example of a corporate organisation helping with that work/family balance, because many organisations do not provide access to vacation care on the site where they are.”

Son Oscar, 2, was equally pleased with the childcare arrangement.

“I was quite nervous sending him yesterday because I knew he was the youngest here among a lot of school-aged kids, but he had a great time,” Mrs Tinson said.

“He thinks this has been a two day long party so it’s great.”

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