Dingwall Ducklings

During the summer holidays, Dingwall Ducklings were delighted to have some refurbishment done. Patio doors have been fitted and decking built to make freeflow play from the playroom to the garden area easier. The lovely large patio doors have also helped more natural light into the playroom making it bright and airy. 

Many thanks to Kenny Ross (K. Ross Joinery) for fitting the doors and a very special thanks to Stuart MacBean (parent) for donating the decking and the workforce to get the job done! 

We think our Dingwall Ducklings photo says it all!

A special delivery supports children’s transition back to Reay ELC

Practitioners in Reay had a special delivery left outside of their setting this week! The children were super excited to open the parcel and find a tiger puppet and a letter introducing ‘Timmy the Tiger.’

The children discussed what they could do to make Timmy feel welcome and safe and decided that this week they would plan and build a special ‘den’ for him.

Senior Early Years Practitioner Yvonne explained that they will be using ‘Timmy the Tiger’ as a learning character to support children’s recall and learning experiences in a variety of ways.  For example,  before lockdown the children were working on a book on  SHANARRI and had started with SAFE and HEALTHY, using photos, pictures and children’s comments and descriptions. Next steps will be to revisit these encouraging children to tell Timmy the Tiger all about it, embedding and consolidating their understanding of what it means to be safe and healthy.  Children’s annual participation in the local garden show will be done virtually this year with Timmy the Tiger’s support to share photographs, recognise and celebrate children’s achievements with their families.

New e-module

CALA are delighted to announce the launch of their new module to the CALA e-learning zone – Gender Equal Play: breaking down barriers. 

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.

The module will support parents and practitioners understanding of how to support gender equality through nonbiased practice with young children.

The module is a mixed media presentation which will guide learners 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 and used to explain and illustrate important learning points and consolidate learning.

The module is aimed at:

  • All Managers, practitioners, community groups, support staff or volunteers who work with or for children and young people.
  • Parent, carers and significant family adults in children’s families
  • Students and or those considering a career in childcare.

Visit www.calaelearning.co.uk for further information.

ELC Childcare Improvement Programme: Bitesize resources

The ‘Early Learning and Childcare programme’ announced the release of a series of online bitesize resources on the Care Inspectorate Hub which will support services to complete their Key Question 5 self-evaluation

Care Inspectorate state:

“The flexible design of the bitesize resources means all ELC staff can view the four sessions at any time – supporting them to raise their knowledge and skills in specific areas. ?Anyone can access them, so it’s a helpful resource for the wider ELC sector. ?They are centred on the programme’s vision which is to see an increased number of ELC settings achieve the national standard.

  1. Key Question 5 self-evaluation
  2. Quick wins in ELC Care Inspectorate inspections
  3. Introduction to quality improvement in an ELC context.

The sessions share some pointers and reminders which will help raise knowledge on the information and detail required to ensure ELC settings facilitate self-evaluation. “

The first in the series introduces and supports services in completing their Key Question 5 self-evaluation? The sessions have been designed to be viewed in sequence.

Click here to access

CALA Virtual Pyjama Party celebrating Book Week Scotland!

CALA Family Services Team has been awarded funding from the Scottish Book Trust to support CALA Toddler Groups to come together to create stories, play, learn and have fun culminating in a virtual pyjama party to celebrate Book Week Scotland.

Before we get to the pyjama party however our Family Service Practitioners are looking for your toddler’s creativity to help us write our very own storybook!

The story will be about a character called ‘Puff’ who visits our toddler communities across the Highlands. We need your help to create pictures of things you enjoy on windy days or pictures of your local area.

If you would like to take part, please send your pictures to [email protected] by the 16th September.

We will be posting further information shortly about our VIRTUAL PYJAMA PARTY!

Click here to access a short video with further details

Cyber Resilience COVID-19 Bulletin

The Scottish Government Cyber Resilience Unit has released a new Cyber Resilience COVID-19 Bulletin. The bulletin shares important cyber security information. The Cyber Resilience Unit state that there is a “significant rise in COVID-19 related scams” and they aim to update the bulletin regularly.

Keep up to date with the most relevant information from the Scottish Cyber Resilience Unit by clicking here

Further information for Toddler Groups

CALA sought further clarification from the Scottish Government on re-opening of Toddler Groups for outside sessions. The following response was received  which indicates that this is not possible at this time as Toddler Groups do not fall into either of the criteria given:

“Unregulated activity clubs for young people under the age of 18 are not yet permitted to open. This is to further limit opportunities for virus transmission and ensure that the transition back to school is successful.

However, if the activity takes place outdoors it may be able to open if it:

is providing training for an organised children’s sporting activity and can operate within the guidance from their regulated body of sport; or

is providing a community learning and development service, such as youth work, and is able to operate within the guidance for this sector

is providing organised outdoor play activity in line with the existing public health guidance (i.e outdoor meetings in groups of maximum 15 people from 5 households)

We hope this helps clarify things and we will continue to keep you updated as soon as we receive further information.

Meanwhile, you will find resources you may find helpful on our website

Parent Portal

Baby massage, stories and songs from our Family Services Teams

Play and Learning ideas

Gaelic songs, stories and ideas


Important information for all Toddler Groups

CALA requested guidance from the Scottish Government on the re-opening of Toddler Groups. Scottish Government have kindly responded with the following information with regards to all non-regulated services such as toddler groups:

“Schools and regulated ELCs are beginning again from 11 August and we are receiving queries about whether other indoor activity may resume at the same time.

The answer is that indoor activities for children and young people which are not overseen by a regulator should not start again until agreed guidance is in place.  Unfortunately, back to school does not mean back to normality and for now, ensuring that the transition back to school is successful is our top priority.

For now, activities for children and young people under the age of 18 should continue online or outdoors in line with existing guidance. 

We know that these indoor activities are of huge value to children, young people and families across Scotland and our ambition are to get them open soon as soon as this is deemed appropriate.  We will provide further information about timing with additional guidance where this is necessary”.

We hope this information is useful. Please keep checking in with our Parent Portal for further updates and useful links to a wide range of information to support parents and carers.

Moving on with CALA

We’ve been just blown away by the number of daily views, parent interaction and feedback that our Family Information and Support pages (developed in response to Covid-19) have received over the last term – thank you for helping to keep us all so connected!

In recognition that the summer holidays are here and how we are so looking forward to the re-opening of our childcare settings in August we’re moving on with what information we provide whilst retaining what you told us was most useful but with a fresh new look!  Some areas are still work in progress, however, we’re delighted to announce the launch of our new Parents Portal and Practitioners Portal full of carefully selected items including Health and Wellbeing we think will be of most interest to you.  Our ‘Family Servicespage shares your favourite play/videos/songs and stories in English and Gaelic. Our ‘News from CALA Settings’ will be populated just before the start of the new term so you’ll know just what to expect when your child returns to their setting.

Why not have a look, we’d love to have your feedback https://www.careandlearningalliance.co.uk

Updated guidance on re-opening of ELC and OSC

Friday 3rd July 2020: ELC reopening guidance update

The Scottish Government Early Learning and Childcare Directorate have issued a letter to all Early Learning and Childcare providers containing an update on reopening guidance issued on the 15th June 2020.

Click here to access the letter.

ELC online sessions for Childcare Providers and Childminders

Online Support Sessions on Reopening Guidance for Childcare Settings – for childcare providers and childminders

The Scottish Government and the Care Inspectorate are hosting a series of online support sessions on reopening guidance for the childcare sector, which will begin on Friday 10th July, 2pm – 3pm.

Click here for further details and information on how to book.

Friday 3rd July: School-age childcare services reopening guidance 

The Scottish Government has released new guidance to support planning for the wider reopening of school-age childcare services in Phase 3 of Scotland’s Routemap.

The Scottish Government Early Learning and Childcare Directorate have issued a letter to all childcare providers detailing the guidance for the re-opening of Out of School Care.

Click here to access the new guidance

Weekly round-up

‘Being Prepared’ Continuous Professional Learning Sessions

Everyone at CALA is excited and optimistic that we will be shortly welcoming our children and families back to our settings across Highland. Preparations to ensure we are prepared to do this safely while still providing high-quality care and learning for our children began this week with a series of virtual learning sessions based on Scottish Guidance, sharing learning from our Keyworker Hubs and focusing on both child and practitioner Health and Wellbeing.

Over 70 staff including Service Coordinators, Childhood Practice Managers and Early Years practitioners attended the sessions. Practitioners will be further supported over the coming week with the launch of our new ‘Practitioners Portal’ on our website. The Portal is designed to serve as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information for our practitioners.

Updated reopening guidance for childcare providers

On Tuesday 23rd June there was further information on the re-opening of Early Learning and Childcare – including Out of School from the First Minister that subject to scientific and public health advice, all childcare providers will be able to reopen from 15 July 2020, if they wish to do so.

The Scottish Government Early Learning and Childcare Directorate have issued a letter to all childcare providers detailing what this means for them.

Click here to access the letter

Further announcements and guidance are expected to be issued shortly.

Interim guidance on the use of face masks and face coverings 

The Scottish Government has released interim guidance on the wider use of face masks and face coverings in health and social care.

Click here to access guidance

Parent Club – Changes to coronavirus restrictions

As coronavirus restrictions begin to change, Parent Club recognises the many questions parents will have and how they affect their family etc. Parent Club has a section of its website dedicated to providing information to what some of these questions may be. The page includes links to:

  • Returning to work
  • Your guide to extended households
  • Changes to outdoor restrictions
  • Reopening of schools and Early Learning Childcare Settings

Click here to access the Parent Club page

New guidance to support planning for wider reopening of ELC Services

The Scottish Government published new guidance for the safe reopening of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) services in Phase 3 of Scotland’s Routemap.

Click here to access the new guidance

The Scottish Government Early Learning and Childcare Directorate also issued a letter to all ELC’s outlining what this guidance will mean for them.

Click here to access the letter