AERO has partnered with the National Outside School Hours Services Alliance (NOSHSA) to support continuity of learning and development for school-aged children as they move between out of school hours care (OSHC) services and school.
An early childhood educator outside with three children. The educator is kneeling down to speak to them at their level.

The Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) has partnered with the National Outside School Hours Services Alliance (NOSHSA) to support continuity of learning and development for school-aged children as they move between out of school hours care (OSHC) services and school.

This involves exploring best practice and creating evidence-based resources to support teachers and educators. This work fits within a broader AERO project that focuses on different aspects of transitions between school and early childhood education and care (ECEC), including transitions from ECEC settings to the first year of school, and transitions to school for children with disability and developmental delay.

AERO’s initial scoping of the literature, as well as consultations with key stakeholders from the OSHC sector, highlighted some untapped opportunities within the OSHC transitions space. AERO aims to answer several questions, including:

  • Can improving transitions between school and OSHC (in both directions) enhance continuity of learning and development for children?
  • If so, what are the best practices and resources to support this aim?
  • What additional supports do teachers and educators need in order to achieve this?
  • How can we evaluate success?

A sense of belonging is essential

Based on insights from pre-eminent researchers in the field of transitions, such as Dockett & Perry (2022) and Joerdens (2014), AERO’s conceptualisation of an effective transition centres on a child’s sense of belonging. To understand whether a child is successfully transitioning between school and OSHC, and experiences a sense of belonging in both settings, we might ask whether a child feels that:

  • their teachers, educators and peers like, value and accept them
  • the educational content is interesting, relevant and valued in both settings
  • their cultural identity is welcomed and valued
  • their teachers and educators care about their wellbeing, learning and development
  • they can ‘be themselves’, within appropriate boundaries.

AERO's collaboration with NOSHSA

This transitions project is the first collaboration between AERO and the OSHC sector. AERO recognises that OSHC plays an important role in the lives of 500,000 Australian children (NOSHSA 2021). However, the intersections between school and OSHC – and the educational opportunities that effective transitions between the two might offer – are not well understood. Despite OSHC being formally categorised as an educational service (ACECQA 2022), there is very little research evidence about the role of OSHC in children’s learning and development (Cartmel & Hayes 2016; Dockett & Perry 2014). AERO’s collaboration with NOSHSA will allow both organisations to bring their complementary expertise and capacities to learn together and drive change. This collaboration aims to respond to the on-the-ground needs and expertise of key stakeholders in the OSHC sector and ensure the work is produced with their maximum engagement, and can be used in their contexts.

The partnership also includes Monash University, who bring their research expertise to help build and consolidate the evidence base.

AERO’s collaboration with NOSHSA seeks to:

  • find the best evidence about supporting continuity of learning and development for children transitioning between OSHC services and school
  • build a shared understanding between school and OSHC of effective transitions
  • support a collaborative approach to transitions for teachers and educators
  • provide evidence-based resources for teachers and educators to support these aims.

Specific areas where evidence-based resources might have impact include:

  • helping OSHC educators describe the learning and development that occurs in OSHC, in line with the My Time, Our Place framework for school age care in Australia. Building on educators’ capacity in this area could make the documentation of OSHC programs easier and more relevant for educators; as well as making learning in OSHC programs visible to families and schools.
  • helping teachers and school leaders recognise the learning that occurs in OSHC, as a support for learning in school and a valuable outcome in its own right
  • building teachers and school leaders’ capacity to work with OSHC educators to maximise learning and development on both sides of the transition.

The focus on transitions between OSHC and school also presents an opportunity to extend the policy conversation about transitions, from point-in-time transitions to school, to the daily, two-way transitions that occur between school and OSHC.

Reflective questions

  • To what extent does a child’s sense of belonging feature in your OSHC service’s values and practices?
  • How could the learning that takes place in OSHC inform, and be informed by, learning at school?
  • What helps and what hinders collaborative approaches with your OSHC service’s feeder schools?

This article was originally published in the 'All about OSHC' June 2022 edition