Out of school care franchise sets sights on Victoria

Industry “stale” and in need of “a really good dusting”

Out of school care provider Sherpa Kids Australia has signalled expansion plans for Victoria with the appointment of an area development manager tasked with growing the franchise business and expanding its presence in schools across the state.

Michael Rasmussen, formerly a teacher at St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Camden, New South Wales, has taken on the master franchise for Victoria following the success of his own Sherpa Kids local franchise. Mr Rasmussen aims to grow the number of Sherpa Kids franchises in Victoria from five to more than 25.

Sherpa Kids has operated in Victoria for four years and competes with both Camp Australia and YMCA to offer out of school care services.

Mr Rasmussen says Sherpa Kids will differentiate its offering through a community-focused service, with local owners engaging with local schools and parents.

“I think the fact that Sherpa Kids services are provided and managed by local people is important. These are people with a significant stake in both the business and the community in which it operates, and with an incentive to make sure it’s being done right and being done well,” he said.

“From my experience, local ownership and involvement in the service has always resulted in a higher quality of care being offered to families.”

Sherpa Kids delivers out of school care in a highly structured environment, engaging children with a wide range of activities tailored to fit in with the individual requirements of schools and their curriculums, Mr Rasmussen said. These include arts and crafts, music and drama, sport and games, and cooking and technology. Many are based on specific themes, such as the circus, recycling, sporting events and space exploration.

There are more than 80 such themes, equating to more than two and half years of activity. The range is expanded each month as franchise owners around the world develop new ones.

Vicki Prout, managing director of Sherpa Kids Australia, said she wanted to give the business of out of school care in Australia “a really good dusting.”

“This is a stale sector of the child care market,” she said. “Some of the more established providers have been around for decades and the rut they’re in is both deep and long. In many cases they’ve degenerated into little more than a corporate baby-sitting service.

 “Children and their hard-working parents deserve way, way better. We’ve been around long enough to earn our stripes but we’re still the new kids on the block. The way we do things is gaining traction with both teachers and parents, and I’m confident that Mick’s remit to build our brand in Victoria is going to change significantly the out of school care landscape here.”