A fond farewell to Stephanie Bruce, leaving CALA today after 23 years of dedicated service

Today is a sad day for all of as at CALA as we say goodbye to our Executive Manager, Stephanie Bruce who leaves CALA today.  (Well, perhaps not exactly goodbye as I’m sure many of us will be keeping in touch and Stephanie won’t be able to resist keeping a keen interest in what we’re doing!)

In the words of our CE Valerie Gale, “without a doubt, Stephanie’s drive, passion and unstinting commitment to the company over the last 23 years has helped shape where we are today. Her legacy of never watering down the quality of children’s services remains with the company as she leaves her footprint  on the need to offer children and families the very best we can.”

We will all greatly miss Stephanie’s attention to detail, enthusiasm, creative thinking, listening ear, ability to rise to every challenge and get the job done, make a positive difference and of course her much valued friendship. We thank her for all her sterling work and encouragement of others over many years and wish her all the very best for the future.


A wee pic of Stephanie who met up with the senior team for coffee, scones and presents yesterday morning, other farewell events are in the pipeline!

Drakies out of School Club – Easter Holidays Newsletter


Having trouble reading the newsletter? Click here to download as a PDF.

Baby Blether – Your Baby’s View of the World


The Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Scotland, have launched a new project in which they invite members of the public to send in photographs of what their babies see. From the Baby Blether website:

“What is your baby’s view of the world, right now, at this moment in time?

Are they playing with a favourite noisy toy that drives you mad? Or is it all quiet whilst their eyes are closed in sleep?

Whatever they are doing, this is their life. Your baby has their own point of view— and we’d like you to share it.”

Click here to access the Baby Blether website, where you can submit a photo of your own, or browse their gallery of Baby Blether photos.

30 Magical Photos Of Children Playing Around The World

Image credits: Terry White

Image credits: Terry White

Play Scotland recently shared a blog article they came across, showing some incredible photographs of children from around the world engaged in play. We particularly loved the joy on the faces of a group of young boys in Ghana – improvising  by using a cardboard box for a football – loose parts play in action!

Click here to be taken to the article. 

Junior World Fundraising – March Madness


A massive ‘well done!’ to the children and staff at Junior World in Nairn, who recently took part in a ‘pyjama day, bake sale and Easter Egg raffle’. They raised an amazing £100 for Cash for Kids!

If you’d like to read more about how their day of fundraising went, click here to download their report [PDF].

Upcoming Training: Play and Learning into Practice (New Venue)


CALA’s upcoming Play and Learning into Practice (PLiP) training will now take place at Merkinch Community Centre, Inverness. Due to low uptake, the training will no longer be held in Strathpeffer.


  • Merkinch Community Centre, Inverness.


  • Tuesday 16th May 2017
  • Tuesday 23rd May 2017
  • Tuesday 30th May 2017
  • Tuesday 6th June 2017
  • Tuesday 13th June 2017
  • Tuesday 20th June 2017

9. 45a.m – 4p.m each day. Lunch is provided.


To book a place on this training, please call our Inverness office on 01463 703033, or email [email protected]

Click here to download the training flyer and booking form. 

We hope to see you there!

Junior World Blog – “People Who Help Us”


Jayne from Junior World in Nairn has sent over a fantastic PowerPoint presentation, all about their visit from the local Fire Brigade. This led on to the children discussing other people who help us.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation. 

Upcoming Training: Play and Learning into Practice (PLiP)

FREE Training Opportunity – Play and Learning into Practice (PLiP). The course is delivered over 6 days and will take place in Strathpeffer Community Centre.

To book, please call: 01463 703033, or email: [email protected]

Click here to download the booking form for this training.


Practice Guide to Chronologies – Care Inspectorate’s revised version replacing that from 2010

The following blog post was submitted by Norma Ruettimann, CALA Training Development Manager:


The National Risk Framework definition states:

“Chronologies provide a key link in the chain of understanding needs/risks, including the need for protection from harm.  Setting out key events in sequential date order, they give a summary timeline of child and family circumstances [or those of an individual using adult services], patterns of behaviour and trends in lifestyle that may greatly assist any assessment and analysis.  They are a logical, methodical and systematic means of organising, merging and helping make sense of information.  They also help to highlight gaps and omitted details that require further exploration, investigation and assessment”.

This useful guide supports practitioners work in this respect.  ELC practitioners might consider reflecting on aspects of the guidance  linking this in with self-evaluation eg. Quality Indicator 2.1 Safeguarding and Child Protection: Consider how well you do this, any actions required to improve and plan accordingly.

Click here to download “Practice Guide to Chronologies” [PDF].

You do WHAT with Toddlers????

This blog post was submitted by Heather Knowles, Toddler Group Facilitator 


This is the question which I get asked many, many times.

So, what do I do with toddlers at Toddler groups?

Well, let’s see, there are :

  • Bookbug sessions
  • Playdough, Moonsand, Slime, Gloop, Shaving foam activities (to name but a few)
  • Physical play (e.g. running and chasing, throwing and catching, obstacle courses)
  • Messy play
  • Baking
  • Crafts
  • Painting/Art
  • Music and Movement
  • Parachute games
  • Preparing their own snack (e.g. making pizzas, fruit kebabs, biscuits, pancakes)
  • Exploring science
  • Bubble fun
  • Making playdough, bubble cups, gloop and moonsand
  • Small world play (e.g. farms)
  • Dressing up games
  • Hide and seek
  • Balloon games
  • Skittles
  • Lots of activities from the [email protected] books
  • And, of course, listening to them and talking with them

To name but a few.

Here are some photos (taken at a variety of toddler groups) showing some of the things which we do.

My husband often says that the inside of our car bears a strong resemblance to an untidy children’s’ play area – and to be honest, it does.  But, as long as the children have fun, are happy, and are both mentally and physically active, I really don’t mind how the inside of the car looks – it can always be cleaned out for family use at the weekend!  (Well maybe not cleaned, but certainly tidied enough for us all to get in it!)

Unveiling the Highland Child Protection Committee’s new logo…

Last Thursday, 30th March saw the unveiling of the Highland Child Protection Committee’s (HCPC) eye catching new logo at an event launching a focus on ‘Neglecting the Issue?’ at the Council Chamber. The logo was chosen from a super range of creative designs from over 350 entries from pupils age 5 – 18 years across schools in Highland.



The winner Bodham Campbell age 9 from Plockton Academy, runners-up Aela Campbell age 8 also from Plockton Primary and Mackenzie Blyth age 15 from Dingwall Academy attended the event to collect their prize and certificates.

The distinctive logo is aimed at raising public awareness of the CPC and they work they do in protecting children in Highland. A dedicated web site www.hcpc.scot due to be launched on 1st May 2017, is currently under development and is intended to provide a one stop shop for news, training, information and guidance on child protection and related matters in Highland.

The launch was followed by an emotive and highly thought provoking presentation by BAFTA award winning actor Paul Branigan and conference the following day focusing on ‘Understanding and Working with Neglect’ the following day attended by over 170 practitioners.

The Winner of the Highland Play Award has been Announced…

The following news update comes from The Highland Council:

Highland Council

“The Highland Council’s Play Improvement Group has assessed all of the applications for the annual Highland Play Award and the decision has been made that it will go to Badenoch and Strathspey-based “Roots and Shoots” who will receive £1000 towards their project.

Runners-up, each receiving £500, were Fort William-based “Stramash” outdoor nurseries providing quality early learning and childcare for 2 to 5 year olds and Kincraig Under 5’s playgroup which uses the local environment to give children a forest school experience.

Sandra Harrington, Chair of the Play Improvement Group at Highland Council said: “We received a large number of entries – the standard of which was very high. The Play Improvement Group enjoyed reading all of the excellent examples of play opportunities being provided in Highland. Due to the high standard of entries and how close the top three were, the group decided to award prizes to two runners up in recognition of the excellent examples of play underway.”

Read the full announcement by clicking here.