Seasons Greetings

The holiday period is finally here, and our settings are closed today for the holidays after a fun-filled time of Christmas festivities.

Here are a few of the experiences that have been happening around our settings, thanks to the innovative and solution-focused approaches from practitioners to ensure they continue to provide high-quality experiences for the children while keeping them safe and following COVID guidance.


 Junior World

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Junior World was very involved in our Intergenerational work. The children have missed their visits to the local Care homes, so a window visit was arranged, and children, staff and residents all had a sing-along.




Culbokie School Aged Childcare

Fun, fun, fun with children leading the all the way, including Christmas Mediation and Yoga, Snowflake lessons for friends and a design a Gingerbread Man competition.



Beechwood ELC

Our five Year 1 Foundation Apprentices put on an outdoor Pantomime for the children and staff, providing lots of opportunities for the children to sing and dance along!



With restrictions still in place, parents are still unable to attend settings to watch the children’s Christmas shows – however, practitioners arranged for shows to be filmed instead and these have been shared with parents.

Our office will be closed from Thursday 23rd December to Tuesday 4th January 2022.  If you are looking for fun play ideas to do over the holidays, don’t forget to check out the Play and Learning section of our website or visit the Parent Portal for information, guidance and contact details for services.

Everyone at Team CALA would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and safe festive period and warmest wishes for 2022.


The Power of play

With the continued challenging and uncertain times we are all still experiencing, we thought we would share with you a couple of examples from around our CALA settings of how play continues to remain steadfast in helping our children develop resilience, understanding of relationships, allowing them to experience positive feelings, and giving them the chance to develop their own solutions to problems to name but a few!

First, we have the children from our school-aged childcare setting at Culbokie sharing their experiences from last week.

Our Reay Under 5‘s group has recently moved premises to the Primary school. This transition for the children was supported by the consistency of play and learning experiences being provided. Here are some photos of the children happily engaged in exploring their new environment and finding all their familiar favourite play resources.

To see more news from all our CALA settings, visit

‘Unfeartie’ Conversation

Are you an ‘Unfeartie’?

To mark Children’s Parliament’s 21st birthday, the Children’s Parliament initiated the inspiring and brave band of’ Unfearties’. ‘’

‘Unfearties’ are individuals who are courageous in discussing children’s issues, are making a difference in children’s lives, and are willing to speak up for, and stand alongside, children.

Since 2017, more than 1000 people, including doctors, nurses, teachers, parents, carers, civil servants, local authority workers, third sector practitioners, United Nations deputy high commissioners, and even the First Minister of Scotland, have joined the movement’ (Children’s Parliament Website).

As part of the 25th birthday celebrations of the Children’s Parliament which coincide with World Children’s Day on the 20th November 2021, CALA will be holding a ‘Unfeartie Conversation’ to discuss Children’s Rights and what else we can do.

Join us for our ‘unfeartiness’ conversation on Thursday 18th November, 4 pm.

To receive the link to join, click here

Funding Follows the Child & the National Standard

CALA is looking to hear from ELC providers and childminders on moving towards full implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard.

Given the impacts of the pandemic, interim guidance giving some flexibilities to the standard was provided this year and CALA has been asked to consult with childcare providers on behalf of the ‘Scottish Government’s Childcare Sector Working Group’ who will be compiling a report based on your feedback and sharing it with the ‘ELC Joint Delivery Board’ to help inform on the timetable including sufficient notice to move to full implementation of the National Standard by the local authority and ELC providers.

 You can do this by:

Completing our online survey by clicking on the link below and complete no later than the end of the day on Thursday 4th November.

Alternatively, join us online on Wednesday 3rd November 2021 @ 4.45pm -5.15pm to discuss and share your views with fellow colleagues from the sector.

Click on the link below to sign up.

Your feedback will help to inform understanding of how to support the final steps towards the full implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard

Gender Equal Play

Children’s understanding of gender is influenced and reinforced from a very young age through interactions and experiences with family, culture, lifestyle, the media, education, childcare environments and the wider community.

As parents and or practitioners nurturing children, we are in a unique position to make a significant difference by considering both the physical and psychological environments and interactions we provide.

Would you like to know more about this?

Why not try CALA’s e-module for parents and practitioners working with children and young people. The module will support your understanding of how to support gender equality through nonbiased practice with young children.

The module is a mixed media presentation that will guide you through key messages in a clear, straightforward and interesting way. Video, audio, simple interactive tasks, links to national and relevant guidance, along with suggested further reading are suggested are used to explain and illustrate important learning points and consolidate your learning.

To find out more visit

Keeping our planet safe

All CALA ELC and SAC settings ensure that through play-based learning and embedded in our vision, values and aims, children and young people have the opportunity to learn about caring for our planet. Many of our settings have been awarded their Eco-schools Green Flag.

As part of their Eco Journey, the inspiring children and young people that attend CALA’s Junior World Childcare (School Aged Childcare) frequently run different ECO projects within the setting and the community. The latest has involved making a poster on soft plastic recycling for the local COOP, along with an ocean-themed painting/display that can be viewed by visiting the COOP in Nairn Highstreet.


The Scottish Youth Parliament, Children’s Parliament, and Scottish Parliament are currently encouraging children and young people from across Scotland to take part in nation-wide climate meetings with MSPs to ensure their voices are heard as part of the debate on the climate emergency in the coming weeks. Click here for further information

In conjunction with this, the children decided to write to local MSP Drew Hendry and have been thrilled to receive not only a personal video response from Mr Hendry congratulating them on their achievements but one that was filmed from the Houses of Parliament in London.

On behalf of the staff at Junior World and Care and Learning Alliance, we would like to thank Mr Hendry for taking the time to send the children and young people this meaningful response.

Click on the video below to hear Mr Hendry’s reply to the children 

Barnardo’s Works Highlands & Islands

Bumps to Baby Steps

Barnardo’s Works Highlands & Islands provides young people with a unique blend of personal support and accredited training, matched with quality work experience and the opportunity for sustainable, independent employment.

Bumps to Baby Steps provides specific support for lone parents aged 16-24, with childcare and travel cost covered for the duration of the programme.

Click here to find out more.

Keeping Children Safe

Keeping Children Safe 

Children across Scotland can face abuse, neglect, exploitation or harm. It’s not just up to the services to provide child protection services, everyone has a responsibility to keep children safe from harm. The Highland Child Protection Committee in partnership with Care and Learning Alliance (CALA) has a number of free-e-learning child protection-related e-modules to help raise your awareness including ‘Think you Know neglect’ and ‘Children affected by parental substance misuse. To find out more about the modules and how to access them, visit

Look, Think, Act Campaign

The Care Inspectorate has launched a campaign and resources for those working in Early Learning and Childcare. Published on 25th August 2021 they introduced SIMOA (Safe, Inspect, Monitor, Observe, Act) the elephant to all ELC settings to support practitioners to be alert to how and why children could leave a childcare setting without a responsible adult.

The poster and artwork can be used to support discussions with children and families with posters and artwork to help children be aware of how to be safe and secure in a setting.

With new children attending ELC and new staff teams forming it’s a good time to be reminded of the importance of being vigilant at all times and the need for strong/effective teamwork to help raise awareness and act responsibly to safeguard, protect and support children’s wellbeing.

Click here to access

Updates: COVID-19: early learning and childcare services

Following the First Ministers statement on the 4/8/21, Scottish Government and Care Inspectorate have updated and issued further guidance for:

  • Early Learning and Childcare provision
  • Childminders
  • School-Aged Childcare

The Scottish Government has also published a checklist summarising the COVID-19 risk mitigations for ELC settings. The Scottish Government state:

This should not be used as a substitute for reading the full guidance. This is especially true for managers of settings who must read the full guidance to understand the measures that they should implement in service planning“.

With updates to guidance ongoing CALA continues to update their Practitioner Portal to make it as easy as possible for childcare services to access the information and guidance in the one place.

For the updates mentioned above and other guidance visit:

New Guidance and Resources

Care Inspectorate: A quality framework for daycare of children, childminding and school-aged childcare

This week the Care Inspectorate published their new quality framework for the daycare of children, childminding and school-aged childcare.  

The primary purpose of the framework is for early learning and childcare (ELC) services to evaluate their own performance.  It will also be used by Care Inspectors to provide independent assurance about the quality of children’s experiences and outcomes. 

The framework will be tested in some services between June and September 2021 and Care Inspectorate will notify the sector before they fully implement the framework in their full inspection programme.

Click here to access the guidance


National Cyber Security Centre: Supporting children to keep safe online

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has launched a new free educational game ‘ CyberSprinters’ with resources for helping children aged 7-11 years in Primary school, clubs and youth organisations learn about cybersecurity (how to stay safe online). 

To find out more and how to access the game click here

Get into Summer

Supporting Parent, Baby & Toddler Groups Grant

Early Years Scotland and the Care and Learning Alliance are excited to be administering a fund for Parent, Baby and Toddler Playgroups.

This fund will support Parent, Baby and Toddler Playgroups to be part of the Get Into Summer Campaign. This is a fantastic opportunity for groups to apply for a grant of up to £500.

We would be grateful if you could share this information with any contacts that are involved with one of these groups.

We have created an extensive list of FAQs to support applicants, which can be found on the webpage, along with the online application.

Funding is not limited to the provision of activities, find out more details in the FAQs. 

Applications open on Thursday 10 June at 10 am and close at midday on Monday 21 June.

Enquires are welcome and details of how to get in touch with CALA or Early Years Scotland can be found below.

Click here to contact details for Care and Learning Alliance

Click here for contact details for Early Years Scotland

Pocket Garden – Junior World


After being among the winners selected from the charity Keep Scotland Beautiful – Design a Pocket Garden competition, the children at Junior World are now putting their design into action and creating the garden!


The garden will be digitally showcased from Saturday the 5th of June 2021 and voting for your favourite pocket garden can take place from the 5th – 13th June 2021 at