ECE Diamonds

Berys Scouse – the child is at the heart

b. 1939
Life member 2001

In 1977, quite by accident, Berys Scouse began her 26-year career in childcare.

On the way home from a PTA meeting one day, a neighbour asked her to help for a day at Auckland Teachers’ College Child Care Centre because they were short of staff. One day became several, then ongoing, and eventually Berys became supervisor. It was a career she’d dreamed about as a younger person but lacked the money to train. Now she could make up for lost time.

“Our centre philosophy was doing things with, and for the children, as you would do for your own children. We used to have camp sleepovers at the centre, walk to the local domain, have dress-up days, visit the neighbourhood or catch a bus to Mission Bay for the day. There was a lot of love for the children. I often thought to myself, “This is how I would have liked my children to be looked after if I couldn’t look after them myself.””

Berys also became involved with the Association (now Te Rito Maioha) and was the Auckland branch president for many years, lobbying for changes in policy and funding to benefit childcare. She was whole-heartedly in support of the field-based, on-the-job training which the Association offered, as opposed to academic training.

When childcare shifted from Social Welfare to Education in 1987 the centre took the children to the Department of Education offices in Newmarket. “We all walked and joined a procession of centres with banners. It was a great occasion of celebration.”

For Berys, the values of the Association aligned with her own belief that the child is at the heart of everything.

“Everybody was working voluntarily because we whole-heartedly believed in what we were doing. We were happy to do this. It was meaningful… We were there because we thought it was important.”

Berys was made a life member in 2001. She retired from the College Child Care Centre in 1993 but spent the next 16 years doing relieving work – “the best thing I could have done in my retirement.” She was made a life member in 2001.

This article is an abridged version from Te Rito Maioha’s book on its life members and their work. You can read the full story and those of other ECE champions:

Life Stories on the Frontline: Growing a childcare movement in Aotearoa
Ngā kohinga kōrero a te aumangea: Kia mana te ara kōhungahunga ki Aotearoa