Meet our Direct Employment Services Team

Together the Direct Employment Services Team offer management support to 32 groups across Highland and 1 in Moray, of which 26 are fully managed and 7 staff managed. The groups consist of Early Learning and Childcare, Out of School and Daycare centres.

Mary Ramsay, Direct Services Coordinator

I moved to the Highlands in 2014, and still find it such a stunning environment. In my role as Direct Services Coordinator, I am fortunate enough to travel to various locations and have some time to enjoy the beautiful views.

Many years ago, as a social care worker, I spent some time in a childcare centre and realised how fun and exciting the sector was. I have worked in childcare ever since, and still thoroughly enjoy it. 

When I’m not working, I like adventure sports, camping, and hiking up mountains.

Jackie Stewart, Direct Services Coordinator

Having worked in childcare for over 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work with children from 2 – 12 years in a variety of services including Early Learning and Out of School Care in both Highland and Moray.

In June 2019, I took up the position of Direct Services Co-ordinator for CALA. No two days are the same and there’s always something new to learn within the role and there is a great team within CALA to support this learning and any challenges that may arise.

Any spare time is spent with family and especially with my two grandchildren. 

Holly Bannerman, Family Services Coordinator

After leaving secondary school I went on to study Childcare at college and then completed my Childhood Practice Degree. Throughout my time studying I had the opportunity to work with children from birth – 12 years in a variety of ELC settings including Out of School Care in the Highlands and voluntary work in Uganda for 6 weeks teaching Mathematics. After studying I continued expanding my knowledge and experience by managing a nursery setting.

I joined CALA in Dec 2019 and enjoy working with an incredibly supportive team,  delivering high quality care and learning for the children and their families. I love watching how children learn through exploring their world around them,  expanding their current skills, knowledge and understanding

When I’m not working I like to take part in Crossfit training sessions regularly, walk the dog and keep myself fit. I also really enjoy reading in my spare time. 

Kirsty Hunter, Mentoring Support Officer

I have lived and worked in the beautiful Highlands my whole life. My career journey began with volunteering at Raigmore’s Children’s Ward as a Play Services Worker. I went on to support young families, mentor vulnerable young people and work in residential care for looked after young people. I have enjoyed incredible roles where I have coordinated an outreach service for children and young people experiencing domestic abuse, developed youth work participation projects and forums and coordinated media based youth lead campaigns and projects. Throughout all of these amazing roles I have drawn on my passion for empowering children and young people to feel listened to, have a voice and be heard. And above all, have hope.

Following an interrupted adolescence and education due to illness I studied for a BA in Child and Youth Studies as a mature student, alongside raising my young family. I then completed my SVQ III during my time as a residential childcare worker. I love nothing more than spending time with my little family and our many rescue animals. When I ever have any free time I volunteer at a local animal sanctuary and create pretty things with glass.

Childhood Practice Managers


Julia McNeil, Childhood Practice Manager

I have been with CALA since September 2006. I currently manage two Early Years sites down Loch Ness which means I travel some beautiful country side on a weekly basis. I also manage three Out of School Clubs in Inverness, one of which is open for Holiday periods.

The holiday club has allowed us to access outings to Kincraig, Fort George and many more which have also been good fun.

I am a mum of two grown up girls embarking on their chosen careers which leaves my husband and I to enjoy a bit of walking and lots of cycling.

Alison Morrison Smith, Childhood Practice Manager

I have been working in Junior World in Nairn for 10 years in a variety of roles, starting off as a part-time helper in Out of School Care, then spending some years in Early Years as a Playworker and as a one to one support. I then became a Senior in Out of School Care which is where I found I was most comfortable and enjoyed this role and working with the older children.

In 2012 I became the Senior in the new Daycare facility and with the rest of the team, we now have a very busy and successful service for children aged 2-5-year-old.

In 2014 I reduced my hours at Junior World to mornings to able me to fulfil my role as a CPM in the afternoons. Within the role, I am responsible for 4 Out of School Services and a breakfast club. I enjoy this new position and the different people I get to work alongside many different professions and background.

Annarie Heneghan, Childhood Practice Manager

I have worked for CALA for the last 16 years and during this time I have gained qualifications to match the childcare roles I have held. I most recently gained a BA Childcare Practice and am currently the Manager of Sutherland Stepping Stones Childcare Centre and Golspie ELC.

On a personal note, I have two daughters and a son and am also blessed with three beautiful grandsons. In my spare time I like to spend time with my family and new puppy Hunter who is very lively. I enjoy reading, socializing and anything crafty. 

Donna Sinclair, Childhood Practice Manager

After spending many years working within safety and works control, an opportunity arose to change career path after having my 3 children.  Since then I have spent 9 years in childcare running my own childminding business and acting as a relief practitioner in Highland Early Learning Centres.  

After completing my SVQ 3 and beginning my degree in Childhood Practice I now manage 3 Early Learning Childcare Centres, Reay, Watten and Norlin and also provide support to the CALA Childminder Members.   I am enjoying the challenges this position provides whilst caring for my 3 children.

Philip Hull – Childhood Practice Manager

I have been fortunate to have worked with children most of my adult life, after having lived above a Nursery School as a child. I worked in a few settings in London and Oxford before joining a childcare group in Kent eventually becoming its owner. After adopting two girls we needed a lifestyle change and decided on relocating to the Highlands and joining the Care and Learning Alliance.

Karina Pawszok – Childhood Practice Manager

My name is Karina Pawszok, I am a Childhood Practice Manager at Care and Learning Alliance.

My work within the company started years ago, first as staffbank, then as Senior Practitioner. I also worked for local authority nursery in Inverness and in a private nursery school in Edinburgh. While working I was gaining qualifications in Early Education and Childcare; first through college then onto university, where I gained my degree in Childhood Practice.

I come from Poland and live in Inverness with my family, I am a mother of three (now grown-up) children and grandmother to twins (boy & girl).

I love reading books, travelling – especially camping, art – oil paint and pencil drawing, and theatre.