Thursday 30 January 2014 8:07am
Construction of the Otago University Childcare Association’s (OUCA) new childcare facility on Castle Street is well underway with enrolments open for children 0-5 years of age. A new bilingual facility is included on the site.
The centres are planned to open on 14 April, (on which date the OUCA Great King Street centre will close and children attending that centre will transfer over to the new facility). The new centres will cater for a total of 140 children, representing a 50% increase of places provided by OUCA between its two sites (the other being the College Centre, Ropu Tiaki Tamaiti, in Union St East).
The new facility (the name of which is still to be formally confirmed) is effectively four childcare centres on one site:
- Te Pārekereke o Te Kī - a bilingual centre for up to 28 children aged 0-5 years of age.
- Te Maioha - two rooms of up to 16 children under two years of age
- Te Puna and Te Uru – each catering for two groups of 20 children 2-3.5 years and 3.5-5 years of age.
OUCA Director, Kay Lloyd Jones, says that over the more than 40 years OUCA has operated on campus, it has established a reputation for offering quality childcare through a stable workforce of trained and experienced teachers, low adult:child ratios and a curriculum based on best practice. Its unique ‘bush curriculum’, when the eldest children spend time playing in the bush, will continue from the new site.
“In our new facilities our teachers will be working with small groups of children, which will enable them to build the trusting, close relationships with children and their families that we know are optimal for learning,” Ms Lloyd Jones says.
"…the new bilingual centre will offer… learning in a kaupapa Māori context and where Te Reo Māori will be the main language of communication."
“We are recruiting some new staff and their numbers will grow as enrolments rise. We are sitting at about 35 staff now and expect that to rise to around 50.
“We want word to go out that we are expanding, we have places for new children and that the quality of care and education provided by OUCA will be enhanced in these purpose-built centres.
“In addition, the new bilingual centre will offer parents the option of their children learning in a kaupapa Māori context where Te Reo Māori will be the main language of communication, adding to the childcare options available to parents on campus.”
Property Services Project Manager Christian German says that one of the most interesting building aspects of the project is the reuse of elements of the original 19th century villas. Dunedin-based practice Parker Warburton Team Architects undertook the design, which also incorporates:
- underfloor heating and hot water provided by a sustainable woodchip boiler
- a level site, with all areas fully accessible for staff and children
- unique form and use of finishes and fittings in the bilingual centre
- extensive landscaping and planting, with existing and new trees, suspended ‘sail cloths’ and canopies providing shade and protection from the elements.
Mr German says, “The OUCA have worked with Property Services and the consultant team on all aspects of the project, from the beginning of the design stage in 2010 to the present.”
Ms Lloyd-Jones adds, “The outdoor play area will be an environment where children can engage closely with the natural elements. There are plans for vegetable gardens, an orchard and pet enclosures.
“The building and environment’s design will support our teachers in providing a curriculum of rich and varied learning experiences for children. The University has generously funded the construction to meet all the higher standards for safety and learning.”
For enrolment information with OUCA contact: office@OUCA.co.nz
Otago University Childcare Association’s new childcare centres will allow it to extend the services it offers, while existing successful activities, such as the unique ‘bush curriculum’ (pictured) will continue from the new site.