Christmas wishes from CALA

As we come to the end of what has been a particularly challenging and unprecedented year which with last week’s news of the need for tighter restrictions – this will no doubt bring further challenges for us all.

Despite this, everyone here at CALA is incredibly heartened by the resilience, dedication, and spirit shown by our children, families, staff and partners and would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and relaxing festive holiday and will look forward to working together with you all again in the New Year.

Our little video message below was created for everyone by our Foundation Apprenticeship students.

Information for CALA settings (6th – 18th January 2021)

All our CALA settings in Highland and Moray will be open from 6th January for children of keyworkers and children who will benefit from being in the setting. Children in these categories attending ELC settings and Out of School Care will follow their normal attendance pattern and your normal ELC funding entitlement will apply. Any additional hours, on top of ELC entitlement, will be charged to you as parent/carer.

The ‘Parent Portal’ on our website has been updated to share with you the current information as provided by the Scottish Government, The Highland Council and Moray Council. You will find useful links to letters to parents from both The Highland Council and Moray Council, along with further links to relevant guidance and support services you may find useful.

Click here to access

For parents/carers of children attending CALA settings in Highland & Moray, we have provided specific information regarding your childcare provision from 26 December to 18 January.

Click here to access

For practitioners working for and with children and families, including Childminders, you will find all links to current guidance and updates on our ‘Practitioner Portal’.

We will continue to monitor and update these pages with any further information.

We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for everyone and would like to thank all our families for their continued support and understanding as we try to navigate through the necessary changes to keep everyone safe.

Festive period: important new and updated information from Care Inspectorate

The following information has been provided from the Care Inspectorate via their provider update (22nd December 2020)

Letter to all registered childcare providers – for period 26 December to 18 January

 The Scottish Government have issued a letter to all registered childcare providers following the First Minister’s announcement on 19 December that further public health measures are to be put in place. Mainland Scotland will enter Level 4 from 26 December and the island authorities will enter Level 3 restrictions.  

The letter confirms the guidance which will apply from 26 December 2020 until at least 18
January 2021.

Help us keep children safe – complete a COVID-19 childcare monitoring return today

Please complete your childcare monitoring return today. The Scottish Government is collating this information, alongside local authority data, to monitor child attendance and absence from childcare services during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

We have adapted it to account for changes in their data requirements, and now issue it to you weekly on Tuesdays.  

We ask that all local authority, private and third-sector childcare services including nurseries, out of school care and childminders complete a return each week.   

 The only exception is if you are a local authority run service in one of the following areas:

Aberdeenshire Argyll & Bute Clackmannanshire East Lothian City of Edinburgh Falkirk Midlothian Perth & Kinross Stirling West Lothian

Private, third-sector services and childminders operating in these areas should still complete one. 

 Any residential schools, school accommodation services, and independent schools who complete a ‘COVID-19 Grant-Aided & Independent Schools Monitoring Return’ do NOT need to complete this.

You only need to complete this on a Tuesday before midnight, and only information on childcare provided that day is required.

Test and Protect – contact tracing while services are closed over the festive period

It is anticipated that over the festive period some ELC services including childminders and out of school care services will close for some or all of the period. During this period it is expected that Test and Protect will require to contact services to establish close contacts of any staff member or child who is confirmed as having COVID-19.

As the Test and Protect service depends on Health Protection Teams being able to look back 48 hours from the time a positive case had symptoms in order to identify close contacts, we are requesting all registered services have an emergency contact for their service that families and staff can pass to Test and Protect during any closure period.

The service emergency contact will need to have access to attendance and staffing information for each session or day, including any information on groupings of children, and will need to provide contact details for the identified close contacts to the health protection team.

It will be particularly important for services to be able to identify close contact staff members if a staff member tests positive.

Therefore, can you please ensure that all of your parents and staff have the contact number for someone in your service who will be able to provide any information to Test and Protect that is required to help prevent the spread of infection.

Tier 4 information for ELC provision – update from Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has provided the following statement:

“All areas in mainland Scotland are to move into Level 4 of the Strategic Framework from 26 December 2021. 

Schools and nurseries will remain open (reopening according to their planned timetable), but only to vulnerable children and the children of ‘key workers’, this is in order to restrict the number of contacts as a precautionary measure to ensure sufficient time to assess the impacts of the festive period on community transmission in light of a new strain of the virus has emerged, prior to the full reopening of the sector.

Out of school care settings can also continue to operate, but as for nurseries, only for children in the priority groups. The aim is to return to the normal operation of services from 18 January.

This does not entail a return to critical childcare, or the operation of local Childcare Hubs, but rather the continued operation of settings with reduced numbers of children. Childcare accessed by eligible families would either be the regularly funded entitlement or require to be paid for by those families.

Supplementary guidance is being developed for publication later today, which will set out definitions for the categories of Keyworkers and Vulnerable Children. 

The guidance will also set out arrangements for staff and children who are clinically vulnerable, and provide as much information as we can about financial support available”

For updated guidance and signposting to relevant information that you may find useful,  visit the following:

CALA Practitioner Hub – Click here

CALA Parent Portal – Click here


National guidance for child protection – revised: consultation

The Scottish Government is currently seeking your views on the revised ‘National Guidance for Child Protection’.

Scottish Government state:

“The aim of the consultation is to seek views on the tone, level of detail and approach in the revised guidance, in particular in relation to the description of new or significant aspects, and whether there are any omissions or aspects that have not been adequately addressed”.

The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland describes the responsibilities and expectations of everyone who works with children, young people and their families in Scotland. It sets out how agencies should work together with children, young people, parents, families and communities to protect children from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Click here to access the DRAFT National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2020

Click here to access the Consultation Guidance

Click here to locate and download the Consultation Questionnaire and Respondent Information Form

The safe operation of daycare of children settings during Covid-19

The safe operation of daycare of children settings during Covid-19

Scottish Government are hosting a webinar on the safe operation of daycare of children settings during Covid-19

Care Inspectorates ‘updates to providers’ on the 25/11/20 states:

This webinar will provide an opportunity for heads of centres and managers to come together virtually and hear from the Care Inspectorate, Public Health Scotland and ADES on key issues relating to safe operation during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, informed by feedback the Scottish Government has gathered from the sector on areas of particular interest/concern.

To book your place click here.

CALA’s Book Week Celebrations

CALA Family Services have loved celebrating Book Week Scotland, from 16th to 20th November. With most community toddler groups unable to meet in our current circumstances, it was a project that aimed to reconnect our families and facilitate an opportunity for all ages to come together to celebrate storytelling, books and rhymes.

In September we invited young families to tell their stories of windy days by drawing or taking photos and submitting them to be a part of a new book.  This book also contained a new rhyming story, written especially for this project, about Puff.  The story tells of the adventures of Puff – a tiny wee breeze who travels across the Highlands, and visits each Toddler Group community.  Puff was painted onto stones, which practitioners then hid in these communities, encouraging families to go on a Puff Hunt and find her themselves.  Photos were shared on group social media pages of successful finds and submitted onto the CALA website prior to Book Week.  In addition, 200 party bags were delivered to families from Toddler groups, with activities, songs and rhymes relating to Puff and windy days.  All these resources were also available to download in order to give wider access.

Our celebrations for Book Week itself included daily activity videos exemplifying some of these activities and culminated in a virtual Pyjama Party, in which we were honoured to welcome local author Merryn Glover.  Among the songs, rhymes and games, Merryn encouraged us all to be storytellers, by telling stories based on our everyday activities.  Merryn also read the story A Tiny Wee Puff and we heard families’ stories of A Time we met Puff.

A variety of individual families, toddler groups, playgroups and nurseries took part in the Puff Hunt, activity videos in Book Week and the Pyjama Party itself.  One mum said her son, “absolutely loved his wee pyjama party… it was so lovely having something so positive to do with him all week.” Another stated “I couldn’t believe how engaged [he] was with the whole thing.  He loved the songs and the story.  It was lovely to watch it together.” Noah’s Ark Tots in Inverness arranged their very own Puff Hunt in their outdoor area and made their own kites to see where Puff would take them.  Meanwhile, Toybox in Gairloch made flags and watched them flutter and the ELC at Milton Primary School also participated with a Puff Hunt, using Puff Bingo, the crafts and roleplaying their own Pyjama Party and sleepovers in their setting.

CALA are grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for the funding given to facilitate this project and to Merryn Glover for her collaboration.  We also thank all the families who shared their stories through their pictures. 

Working with a wide range of partners, Scottish Book Trust – the national charity changing lives through reading and writing and delivered events and activities across the country during Book Week Scotland 2020, which ran from 16 November to 22 November, linked to this year’s theme of Future. Now in its ninth year, Book Week Scotland was initiated by the Scottish Government. Hundreds of free events happened during Book Week Scotland across many different local authorities, funded by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC). This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, public events could not be held, however, there were many community based and digital events to join in across Scotland.

As another Book Week closes we recognise that stories are amazing -they can make us feel anything and take us anywhere in the world! Keep telling your stories in any way you can. Words, photos, artwork, music, movement… Pick your favourite and tell your story! We cannot wait to hear them!

We truly value your feedback and would like to be able to report back to our funders, Scottish Book Trust on how you found our activities. We would be grateful if you could complete our online evaluation and Scottish Book Trust’s at

Important Information for Services from Care Inspectorate

The care inspectorate is making changes to the way you receive your PROVIDER UPDATES. You are required to click on the link below to select which update version you wish to receive and update your account.

The Care Inspectorate state:

We are tailoring the content you receive.

We carried out a Provider Update reader survey in July 2020 to help us get Provider Updates right for you. Based on what you said we are transitioning into three new editions of the Provider Update: 

  • Provider Updates for adult/older people services 
  • Provider Updates for early learning/out of school/children and young people services
  • Provider Updates for childminders 

We will be switching to the new editions of the Provider Update from 10th December 2020. 

Subscribers who receive the Provider Update 

Subscribers to the Provider Update must now choose which of the three editions they now want to receive going forward. You may choose to receive all three editions if you wish or any combination of the three. 

We will continue to issue reminders to subscribers to update their subscription topics as we will be switching entirely to the new editions of the Provider Update from 10 December 2020. 

Your subscription topics can be chosen by logging into your subscription account here and clicking ‘Add subscriptions’ which sits just under the ‘Submit’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons.


World Kindness Day – TRACC

Practitioners in our settings have been encouraging children’s awareness of their health and wellbeing since returning to settings following closure during the pandemic. 

As this is Kindness week, the practitioners at TRACC Out of School Club suggested the children might consider kindness and wellbeing and make an individual pledge showing what kindness might look like. Initially, the children’s ideas of a pledge benefitted themselves.  So they had further discussion and also asked for CALA staff to share their ideas of their pledges to be kind to others.  12 members of staff replied including our CE, Jaci Douglas who said: ‘I always wave at the local care home residents whenever I walk by with my dog as they sit at their windows and just lookout.  They always wave back with a big smile – although it also benefits me as it makes me smile too’.  One of the children then decided her pledge would be to ‘say kind words’.  

Watten Early Learning and Childcare – Eco School

The children, families and practitioners of Watten Early Learning and Childcare are working towards renewing their ECO Schools Green Flag – here is a little update from them on some of the things they have been doing (please click to fully open the post to view their fabulous photographs)

At Watten ELC we have been busy working towards renewing our Eco-Schools Green Flag. Our two biggest topics have been Litter and Waste Minimisation.

We carried out several litter picks including one at Dunnet Beach where we learned about the harm plastic can cause to sea life. Linking with the local primary school we began collecting crisp packets and bottle tops for recycling.

Our Eco-Committee decided to make “Eco-Bricks” using plastic bottles and plastic which could not be recycled locally.  Over several months staff, children, and parents helped to collect plastic and make the bricks. Children were working out how to get the plastic into the bottles and using scissors to cut up the larger pieces of plastic. Some children even carried on making Eco-Bricks whilst at home during the lockdown.

Children were weighing, sorting, and counting the Eco-Bricks and we have now made over 100 and recycled approx. 30 kilograms of plastic. Our next step is to use the Eco-Bricks to make a planter for our garden.

Children also created a litter policy for our centre in the form of a mind-map and helped to make an anti-litter sign for displaying at the Loch Watten picnic area.

Doing this project has given children a better understanding of how we can all reduce, re-use and recycle as well as a sense of achievement knowing that they are bringing about positive changes to their local community and the wider environment.


Equal Protection

On Saturday 7th November 2020, The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 (Equal Protection Act) became the law in Scotland.

This change in the law will apply to acts of physical punishment or physical discipline carried out after 7 November 2020. 

Information from Equal Protection states:

“The purpose of the legislation is to assist in ending the physical punishment of children by parents, carers or the person who has charge of them. It removes the statutory defence of ‘justifiable assault’ under Section 51 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003.

It is important to emphasise that the change in the law does not change well established local and national Child Protection procedures. Those procedures will continue to be instigated as and when required by our officers, in accordance with Police Scotland’s policy”.

Police Scotland have produced information and resources to raise people’s awareness of the legislation and their role in supporting it.

There are two resource packs:

  • Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2020 – resources for children and young people
  • Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2020 – resources for adults

Quick and easy access to both these resources and further information are available from our Practitioner Portal on our website. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS 

CALA information roundup

‘Baby and Toddler Groups Online (title) 

The Family Services Team are excited to announce that they can deliver sessions online for groups of our Baby Toddler Group families.

We can deliver Book Bug, Baby/child massage, PEEP, Play@Home and many other activities such as songs/rhymes and storytelling sessions.

If your Baby and Toddler Group would like to participate in some fun online interactive sessions, please get in contact with your local Family Practitioner or contact our CALA Office via:

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 01463 222569

Updated COVID 19 Guidance

On Friday 30th October there were further changes and updates to guidance such as:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): early learning and childcare (ELC) services
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): school-aged childcare services

To make sure we support you to access the guidance, updated information and support resources as quickly and as easy as possible, we have put these and much more all on our PRACTITIONER PORTAL.

Click here to access

COVID-19 education recovery

This resource from Education Scotland provides a single point of access to guidance and support for COVID-19 recovery. It includes key advice from the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG), and from sources approved by CERG.

It will be updated weekly until further notice. Where there are revised versions of earlier publications, these revisions will be highlighted

Click here to access

Fledglink APP

The new Fledglink app (endorsed by DWP Job help website) aimed at young people, has just been launched and is available now!

This is an attractive way of bringing free employability support to young people from their smartphone, offering guidance on building a digital CV, connections with other motivated young people, explore new career opportunities and get free in-depth professional and life skills workshops.

Visit the website here for further information. The app is free and available to download on iOS and Android.