Tag Archives: Early Learning and Childcare

Realising the Ambition During Covid-19 at Cairngorm ELC⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

In the second in our series of practice sharing blogs during Covid-19 restrictions, Beth Rodgers from Cairngorm ELC provides us with fascinating insights into how she and her team prepared for the return of children:

Uncertain and unprecedented times call for creative measures and allows us the opportunity to be brave and take a leap of faith out of our comfort zone.

As Charles Darwin once said:

‘It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’

This has been the thought process for our team throughout the closure period. Key questions we asked ourselves were:

1. How can we adapt to the current situation and enhance the service we offer, whilst ensuring the safety of all of children by following national guidance?

2. What training opportunities can we access, albeit it in a different format than before to ensure that professional learning remains at the heart of our practice?

3. What spaces could be developed to enhance and maximise the experiences for our children?

4. How can we ensure that the wellbeing of our children, through nurturing and positive interactions remains at the heart of all we do?

5. How do we ensure that we take parents with us on our journey of change?

Think Spaces

Outdoors, outdoors and more outdoors. With the correct clothing and resources no weather is ‘bad’ weather. Embrace the elements… puddle jumping on wet days, dancing in the wind on windy days and staff embracing their inner child!

We were lucky enough to access some great outdoor training for staff prior to re-opening, which was supported by Education Scotland’s ‘Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM’ and this allowed staff to build confidence and prepare for a predominantly outdoor service.

We created a whole new outdoor space, utilising as many natural resources as possible, whilst really thinking about open ended materials which allow for lots of opportunities to be creative. Big piles of sticks, log, cones etc. have seen our children build dens, create their own role play areas, obstacle courses and many, many more. Spaces to relax and rest can be achieved outdoors – our Bell tent has been a revelation!

We have embraced our local environment, and walks and local exploration feature heavily in the daily life of Cairngorm Early Learning.

Think Interactions

Scary times and change are hard enough as an adult, but put yourself in the shoes of your children. Don’t underestimate the impact of cuddles and reassurance and that sense of belonging and safety that comes hand in hand. Think carefully about your groupings. Who do the children know well already? Are your key workers systems in place? Is there a safe space for children to feel relaxed and comforted? (Yes, even a tent outdoors can achieve this!)

Settling back in sessions have been a must for us and allowing children (and parents and carers) the time to take these at their own pace has been of paramount importance. Whether this means a child has one session or ten, you must look at each child individually and work from there.

We have updated our Care Plans to recognise the huge impact that COVID-19 has had on their lives and are utilising the Leuven Scale to track wellbeing over the weeks and months ahead, ensuring that we are responding to individual needs.

Think creatively about your communication with parents/carers. Are they still getting the information they need on a daily basis to make them feel secure in their child’s care? Never forget that this is a scary time for parents too and this needs the same level of thought and planning. We decided to buy in online software for parental communication and journals, ensuring that despite the reduction in face to face interactions with parents and a move away from a literal ‘open door’ policy, parents feel no less informed or part of their children’s experiences.

Using child friendly prompts about hygiene and the social distancing measures have also ensured that none of our messages have been threatening or scary. Being child friendly has been key.

Think Experiences

Little and often has been our mantra when it comes to resourcing and changing them regularly to support cleaning and hygiene practices.

Click to view slideshow.

A sand tray/tuff spot with a thin layer of sand and interesting mark making materials or small world toys can be just as exciting a tonne of the stuff. This has allowed us it to change it for each cohort with as little waste as possible. Water taken from a water butt with a tap for play, as and when required, and then disposed of has also helped ensure that hygiene measures are followed.

Ensure you have a comprehensive rota system for cleaning. We have found that a basin of sterilised water close by throughout the day allows us to pop resources into it immediately again use ready for a thorough clean at the end of the session. Clear guidance for staff regarding this has also been crucial.

Most important of all, be kind to each other.

Most important of all, be kind to each other. This experience has affected everyone; staff, children and families alike. Be patient with each other, support each other and remind yourselves that you have one of the most important and privileged roles out there. Be that source of comfort and love to your children and the rest will fall into place from there.

Kingsmeadows Nursery and Out of School Care – Implementing Realising the Ambition During Covid-19⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Over the next few weeks  settings across Scotland will be sharing their stories of providing quality early learning and childcare,  while at the same time implementing public health measures to help protect children, families and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rebecca Jewitt from Kingsmeadows Nursery and Out of School Care is the first to share their story:

Kingsmeadows Nursery and Out of School Care has remained open as a critical childcare hub within our local area. We have been open to key worker families and vulnerable children only throughout the COVID-19 lockdown and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

A group of our staff team have worked throughout this period and a group have been at home on furlough. Staff are coming back from furlough now and are adapting well to our new routines.

Our staff have been using some of their extra time during lockdown to complete training. Our intention from the beginning has been to use this time to update and develop our knowledge and skills to further improve the outcomes and opportunities we provide for our children and their families throughout our setting.

Our staff have been great as always! They have been thinking in an even more creative manner than usual and are finding positives in working shorter days and having more time at home. Our numbers of children attending are definitely lower than usual, ranging between 18 and 30 in total. This seems to be the new busy just now, and we are one of the busier hubs in our area.

We have adapted and adjusted many daily routines since lockdown started. For example parents/carers now drop off and collect their children from the main entrance. This has worked surprisingly well and our children usually come in with ease. Our children are split into smaller groups and this is working well.

We are extremely fortunate to have an extensive outdoor environment that is used each and every day. Throughout this period we have intentionally increased the amount of time we spend outdoors even further. This is an important improvement for us and something that will be continued after Covid-19 restrictions have ended.

At Kingsmeadows we have been carrying out a lot of STEM activities, including making potions, den building, using tools, scavenger hunts, and making ice-cream. Our children have also been on lots of woodland walks. The woodland is on our door step which couldn’t be any better!

We have continued to offer opportunities for messy and sensory play by providing each child with their own tools and equipment. Depending on the resources used, certain things are disposed of once the activity is finished. Playdough and clay seemed to be a great hit with no sharing required! All tools and equipment are washed after use.

We’ve been able to use our bikes that we gained through the ‘Play on Pedals’ scheme. Children can use helmets provided by the setting which are cleaned after use, or are welcome to bring in their own if they prefer to do so.

We have limited a lot of resources within each of our rooms but alternate them regularly. All toys and equipment are cleaned at the end of each day.

At Kingsmeadows we have an online system to record observations which we update and share with parents and carers daily. We have also set up a welcome display board which is placed at the main entrance. We pop new photos on at the start of each week to give parents and carers further insight into our daily practice. We have had some lovely feedback from parents and carers and they all really appreciate what we are doing.

‘Realising the Ambition: Being Me’ has supported us as we have made changes to the way we think about and provide high quality opportunities and experiences for our children. Sections 3.5 ‘When things in my life are not straightforward – adversity and trauma’ and 5.4 ‘Leading through learning together with families’ have helped us to think and respond to the impact of Covid-19 on our families. The sections on considering the ‘learning environment’ and ‘facilitating playful learning environments’ have also been really useful in helping us focus on quality as we have adapted our setting and the way we support children’s learning through play.

It really has been a case of looking for the positives. We look for the rainbows – the one above was a sunny Friday afternoon task! – and keep on smiling 😊.


DYW – Support Offer⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

In these unprecedented times Education Scotland would like to ensure you continue to get the professional support you may require around DYW over the next months.

the following will provide you with an offer of key professional online support:

  1.  A quick start guide to DYW: This includes the key essential around DYW such as main documents, key links to latest information and updates.
  2.  Professional learning and reflection tools:  here you find all the essential tools and learning modules collated in one area.
  3. Career, Information, Advice and Guidance – My World of Work:  This is Skills Development Scotland’s online support hub for teachers and practitioners as well as learners .  It contains classroom resources, Labour Market Information, guidance on Meta – and Career Management Skills amongst a range of other interactive and engaging resources
  4.  Online professional dialogue – virtual meetings:  We have set up 3 session for teachers and practitioners to ‘get together’ in order  to share their DYW experiences, exchange information and discuss challenges.
  5.  National Improvement Hub – DYW  Summary Page:  This website page contains all our resources, tools, exemplification etc. in one place.  .

For more information on the above please follow the links.

If you have any specific questions please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at:  EDSDES@educationscotland.gov.scot

Developing the Young Workforce – Early Learning & Childcare and Primary Focus⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

In order to support the implementation of DYW at early learning & childcare and primary school level we aim to bring together teachers, practitioners and DYW leads with experience and interest in this area to enter into a professional dialogue and collaboration.

The aim of the focus groups are to:
• share current practice and experiences;
• scope requirements to enhance DYW implementation in this area;
• develop support for teachers and practitioners.

We have set aside the following dates for workshops early in 2020:

23 January 2020 Glasgow
26 February 2020 Edinburgh
24 March 2020 Stirling

The meetings will be one day events and held in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling. You are only required to attend one of the workshops. We would be grateful if you could forward this information to relevant people from your authority/organisation, they can register their interest by sending a confirmation email to EDSDES@educationscotland.gov.scot stating their school, local authority and availability, by Thursday 19 December.

For more information please contact Peter.Murray@educationscotland,gov.scot (07780 225304)

Briefing on Gaelic Education⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Seo fiosrachadh ùr bhuainn:


Please see our September  Briefing on Gaelic Education here:


Our briefings on Gaelic Education  keep practitioners updated of some of Education Scotland’s, and key partners’, support for improvement in Gaelic Education. Please follow this link for more information:


National Digital Learning Week 2019⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

National Digital Learning Week is back! This year the event will take place Monday 13 until Friday 17 May.

For this year’s even all Early Learning and Childcare Centres and Schools across Scotland are invited to take part in 5 Curriculum focused challenges in: STEM, Social Studies, Expressive Arts, Numeracy and Literacy.

Here’ a 2 minute video that tells you everything you need to know about the event.

Visit the Glow Blog today and get started. https://bit.ly/2PfR0Go

Briefing on Gaelic Education⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Seo fiosrachadh ùr bhuainn:


Please see our February Briefing on Gaelic Education here: 


Please follow the link below to view our briefings on Gaelic Education which keep practitioners updated of some of Education Scotland’s, and key partners’, support for improvement in Gaelic Education.



DYW and Outdoor Learning⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

At Castlemilk Day Nursery DYW features as an integral part of the learning and teaching alongside literacy, numeracy and health & wellbeing. The Nursery employs a variety of approaches to allow their children to link the skills they are developing to the world of work, challenging gender stereotyping alongside.

Through outdoor learning children at Nursery have opportunity to explore and develop a wide variety of transferable skills across all curriculum areas. Using for example prompt cards and key questions children become aware of key professions and the skills required for these . This is reinforced through our joint up ventures with business and other local nurseries, primary and secondary schools. The Nursery is looking to promote skills for work, life and learning through role-playing , currently they have a focus on the veterinary sector. Children undertake a variety of roles and this helps them to understand the range of different skills that are necessary in the world of work.

Central to embedding DYW across all aspects of learning was the engagement of staff in professional dialogue and partnership working with employers. The Head Teacher and the staff have been working on resources that ensure that the Career Education Standards 3-18 is embedded within the curriculum.

Job Profile

A key priority of the nursery was to support children’s knowledge and understanding of the skills they were learning and relating these to the world of work The skills that the children explored are:



Creativity/self confidence

Physical wellbeing


These where broken down into achievable “I can” statements for children and linked to the Career Education Standards 3-18. Staff had previously taken part in outdoor training within the local community woods and shared photographs of the learning with the children. The children were encouraged to share the skills that they could identify which included “helping”, “showing” and “talking” and relate these to their daily nursery routine and the wider world of work.. This was a shared learning approach which had positive implications for both staff and children’s learning. The nursery has taken the first steps to building on employee partnerships, developing the young workforce through joined up ventures and sustaining lifelong learning for all. The children really enjoy outdoors and the benefits which it brings. Having a woodland area within our nursery outdoor area we have been able to support and enhance the learning opportunities to support developing the young force through the children’s newly acquired transferable skills.

Staff and children have the opportunity to look at various experiences and outcomes through interdisciplinary learning. Skills for learning, life and work is an integral part of the planning and this ensures these are embedded within the curriculum experiences. Castlemilk has now made contact with wider industries such as house builders, catering agencies, generation programmes and engineering companies who are willing to support in sharing skills with our children

Castlemilk Day Nursery will continue to develop the young workforce approach within their daily practice and within their planning. They will work on joined up ventures with local nurseries, primaries, secondary schools and other education providers sharing skills and knowledge. This will support their children in developing their skills and open up many opportunities to embed DYW within the learning and teaching of the nursery.

Transferable skills and DYW

Karen Henderson, Head Teacher says: “The initial idea came from linking staff CPD training with our community “Wellie Wanders” group which our children take part in weekly. Staff were also able to link their experiences to the “Outdoor learning” documentation and “My world outdoors” resources which are embedded within Castlemilk Day Nursery”

“I liked climbing on the trees with Ella. I climbed really high. Then climbed down again” Josh, age 4yrs

“I learned to build a den with sticks, leaves and tarpaulin. I like playing in the mud. I like everything outside” Tommy, age 4yrs

Yokerburn Early Years⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Extended day centre within Yoker area of north west Glasgow. Nursery caters for children from 0–5 years from a multitude of cultural, social, financial and learning backgrounds.

Click to view slideshow.

Raising awareness of job roles within local community by working with a range of different partners in the community is one of ur key priorities. This inspires the children and provides an early introduction into the world of work.  Our children have been working with a local care home to build up confidence and familiarity of the world of work. The children have experienced several different roles within the care home including: nursing, cooking, hair and beauty and table set-up . This is a fantastic opportunity for the children to gain a real insight into the world of work.

The project has grown and we have now had several engagements with the organisation:

Working with the care home to grow products. This project is in conjunction with another partner Dumbarton Environmental Trust. The project is helping our young people to improve their understanding of science but also introducing a wide range of different career options.

Remembrance Day
We joined the care home residents on Remembrance Day and the young people made their own poppies to commemorate the occasion. This was another opportunity for the residents to discuss their own lives with our children.

We have other experiences available to our children:

Parental Employability Sessions
We have encouraged our parents to become involved in our employability events and we have had several successful parental QA sessions. This allows the children to experience these skills from some familiar faces.

Fruit Stall
This project has allowed our childen to learn employability skills in a real-life context. The children are involved in all aspects of the enterprise activity

Health and hygiene
Money handling
Stock control

They also produce a survey on what products are selling the best and plan their purchases accordingly.

Community Police Visit
The children had a visit from the community police, this was another opportunity to show a positive role model for them. They had a QA session and had the opportunity to ask a wide range of diverse questions.

“The effective incorporation of simple counting, matching, comparison tasks into the conversation encouraged early numeracy skills and the reciprocal question and answers and new vocabulary in context developed early literacy skills for our children in a real and meaningful way. Our childen have been extremely engaged during visits to Quayside with older residents and we have recognised that often adults can underestimate children’s abilities in terms of empathy and awareness. We have had statements from Quayside about increased motivation, interest and engagement by some residents and there really is an observable connection between the regular visitors.Promoting the world of work is allowing our children to access early knowledge of the wide range of different career pathways.” Head Teacher

We are building on our local partners and will continue to actively promote the positive impact of early introduction to the world of work.

Next Steps
Working with local partners
Continuing our links with local community and strengthening joint appreciation of the people and families in our area.

“We have noticed a surge of energy and increase in physical activity for some of our residents when they know the children will be visiting” Anne from Quayside

Gaelic version of e-Sgoil’s live narrative project now available⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Education Scotland has published the Gaelic version of e-Sgoil’s live narrative project here:


This project outlines e-Sgoil’s virtual learning approach to overcoming barriers to learning across a range of local authorities and aspects of pedagogy​. It is intended to assist senior leaders and teachers  with improving practice through the medium of Gaelic and English.