Looking back at the 2016 CALA Conference

The 2016 CALA Conference took place last week at Greyfriars Free Church, Inverness. The theme of this years conference was “Family Matters – Opportunities and Challenges in the 21st Century“. We had a fantastic line up of speakers, delivering truly memorable speeches and workshops on a wide range of fascinating subjects.

We have prepared a short video that takes a look back at the event. Click the image below to play:



Feedback from the event has been overwhelmingly positive, with people particularly impressed by our keynote speaker, Karyn McCluskey, who delivered a speech that left the audience energised and inspired. You can read some of this feedback below:






A big thank you to everyone who attended our conference! We hope you left feeling more knowledgable and inspired than when you arrived. Thanks are also due to the CALA conference team (particularly Chairperson Louise), the helpful staff at Greyfriars Church, all exhibitors who came along, and our amazing line-up of speakers and workshop leaders.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for how we can make next years conference even better, please get in touch!

We hope to see you all at the 2017 CALA Conference!

Karyn McCluskey – Keynote Speaker for the CALA Annual Conference

Hello everyone!

Here is the final instalment in the series for the workshops and speakers in the upcoming CALA Annual Conference.

To find out more be sure to visit here!

Be sure to book your place at the conference as soon as possible, as it is first come first served! Click here to sign up!

We look forward to seeing you all there

We are delighted to welcome Karyn McCluskey as our keynote speaker for this year’s CALA conference.karyn

Karyn McCluskey is the Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, which is part of Police Scotland and is dedicated to reducing violent incidents throughout Scotland.

Karyn has twenty years’ experience working with police forces around the country, including Sussex, Lancashire, West Mercia, Strathclyde Police and the Metropolitan Police.

The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit is a national centre of expertise on violence. Part of Police Scotland, the VRU targets violence wherever it occurs whether it’s on the streets, in schools or in our homes. Supported by the Scottish Government the unit has adopted a public health approach, treating violence as “an infection which can be cured”. The VRU is the only police member of the World’ Health Organisation’s Violence Prevention Alliance. The VRU believes violence is preventable – not inevitable.

The aim of the VRU is to create long-term attitudinal change in society rather than a quick fix. The VRU also focuses on enforcement, seeking to contain and manage individuals who are involved with violent behaviour. The approaches taken have centred on the contributing factors leading to violent crimes, such as disruptive home life, domestic abuse, unemployment, etc.

This public health approach includes supporting ex-offenders to find employment, supporting their families, encouraging community cohesion and breaking the cycle of an unhealthy and abusive environment.

“Violence works like an infectious disease. It’s passed on. You can catch it. You might live and die in a square mile. Your life is not predictable or manageable. You may have alcoholic parents, suffer domestic violence. Nobody cares about you. You’re incapable of empathy: hard-wired for violence.”

– Karyn McCluskey, the woman who took on Glasgow’s gangs

Click here to read more about Karyn and the invaluable work she does with the Violence Reduction Unit.


The other side of the coin: the impact of poverty on our children

Hello everyone

This is the fourth installment about the workshop leaders for the upcoming CALA Annual Conference.

Hanna McCulloch, Policy and Parliamentary Officer for Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) will be delivering a workshop discussing how child poverty affects children and families as well as the most recent research on the topic

To find out more be sure to visit here!

Be sure to book your place at the conference as soon as possible, as it is first come first served!

We look forward to seeing you all there

Speaker BiographyHanna McCulloch

Hanna McCulloch is Policy and Parliamentary Officer for Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland. Her role involves working with CPAG colleagues to run the Early Warning System, a framework used to gather case evidence from frontline workers about the impact changes to the social security system are having on the health and wellbeing of children in Scotland.

Workshop Overview

  • An overview of child poverty in Scotland. What is the definition of child poverty?
  • How can we recognise the difficulties that families may experience?
  • What is the impact for children growing up in poverty? How might this affect their development?
  • What steps can be taken at local and national level to reduce child poverty and its impact on children and families.

Organisational Overview

Child Poverty Action Group works on behalf of the one in four children in the UK growing up in poverty.

CPAG works to understand what causes poverty, the impact it has on children’s lives, and how it can be prevented and solved – for good. They do this through developing and campaigning for policy solutions to end child poverty. They also provide accurate information, training and advice to the people who work with hard-up families, to make sure they get the financial support they need and carry out high profile legal work to establish and confirm families’ rights.

CPAG Mission StatementCPAG Blogpost

Our vision is of a society free of child poverty, where all children can enjoy a childhood free of financial hardship and have a fair chance in life to reach their full potential.

Supporting Parents along the Journey of Child’s Development

Hello everyone

This is the third installment about the workshop leaders for the upcoming CALA Annual Conference.

James McTaggart, Educational Psychologist with Highland Council will be delivering a workshop discussing how Developmental Overviews can be used by professionals, the benefits to children and the impact on their development.

To find out more be sure to visit here!

Be sure to book your place at the conference as soon as possible, as it is first come first served!

We look forward to seeing you all there


Workshop Outline

Over the past 3 school sessions, Developmental Overviews have provided a format for the early identification of need within preschool settings in Highland.

In James’ workshop, he will explain the background of the Developmental Overviews, as well as:

  • How the data generated by the Developmental Overviews is collated, analysed and used to address and improve play experiences to maximise opportunity for children’s learning and development.
  • How at an individual level DO’s can support in the early recognition of any issues/developmental gaps/delay, difficulties for young children in managing their behaviour etc.
  • A new web resource that provides strategies to support children’s development from pre-birth onwards, put together by local speech and language and occupational therapists, physiotherapists, early years practitioners and psychologists.
  • Strategies to employ to address the concern identified along with an appropriate timescale for intervention and review, level of success and next steps, e.g. differentiating activities, making changes to the environment, etc.
  • The importance of practitioners working to support and engage parents and the significant difference this can make to outcomes for children. What would practitioners like covered on the website?


Speaker Biography

James is an educational psychologist with Highland Council, specialising in early years. He has key roles in supporting developments in early parenting, learning, language and literacy, working across all services and sectors. As the workshop will demonstrate, he is not yet very good at designing websites, but enjoys learning new things. A key part of James’s role is to engage with practitioners and find where development and improvement is needed, and he will hope to hear many views during the day.


Healthy Minds, Happy Children

Hello everyone

This is the second installment about the workshop leaders for the upcoming CALA Annual Conference.Linda and Emma

Linda Thom, Promoting Positive Relationships Team Lead & Emma Campbell, Primary Mental Health Worker, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service are going to deliver a workshop discussing how mental health can affect parents and children in different ways , the increasing instances of mental ill health and what are the strategies which can be adopted to support children and families through mental illness.

To find out more be sure to visit here!

Be sure to book your place at the conference as soon as possible, as it is first come first served!

We look forward to seeing you all there

Healthy Minds, Happy Children

Workshop Outline

  • How do parents mental health issues impact children’s health and wellbeing?
  • An explanation of the rising instances of mental health issues in young children. What support is available?
  • What strategies can be adopted to allow practitioners to take a preventative,
    rather than reactive approach to supporting children?
  • Support that can we offer ‘in-house’ and where can we go for more advice?

Promoting Positive Relationships Team

This is a strategic Post supporting and developing the building of relationships for all in the Care and Learning Service.
It fits with the National direction working to enable ‘better relationships, better learning, better behaviour’ (Smarter Scotland Scottish Government)
Improving the Odds – states that ‘of all the features the most important was the quality of relationships between staff and pupils’

Building Curriculum for Excellence through Positive Relationships and Behaviour (2010) states
“Curriculum for Excellence cannot be delivered without good relationships and positive behaviour”
and that underpinning this is the emotional health and wellbeing of staff.

The work of Promoting Positive Relationships is underpinned by Emotional Literacy.
We offer various levels of training to staff which develops their own Emotional Literacy and helps them to support and develop it in others.


CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) is provided by NHS Highland and The Highland Council.
We work with children, young people and families to understand their difficulties and offer a range of therapeutic interventions
to help you make the changes you want to make.

The term, CAMHS is used to embrace the range of services across agencies that contribute to the mental health and care of children and young people.
CAMHS works collaboratively with children, young people, parents and professionals, using the most up to date research and knowledge,
building on strengths and fostering self-development”.

Primary Mental Health Worker Service, CAMHS Mission StatementHighland Council

The PMHW service builds capacity within other agencies and provides early intervention to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children, young people and their families, within their local communities, through consultation, direct intervention and training.

A Family Man: the role of men in 21st century families

Hello everyone

This is the first in a short series of posts giving a little taste of what you can expect at the upcoming CALA Annual Conference.

David Devenney, Head of Programmes with Fathers Network Scotland, is going to deliver a workshop discussing the influence of men in the home and how to involve fathers in raising and caring for children.

To find out more be sure to visit here

Be sure to book your place at the conference as soon as possible, as it is first come first served!

We look forward to seeing you all there

A Family Man: the role of men in 21st century families

The Fathers Network Scotland is an organisation determined to drive positive cultural change by inspiring organisations, communities and individuals to engage, support and empower men to be the fathers they want to be.

Workshop Outline

  • Why focus on dads? What has changed?
  • Diversity of dads’ roles.
  • Who benefits when we include men in childcare/families?
  • What can we do as Early Learning and Childcare Practitioners – what works?


Speaker BiographyDavid Deveney

David Devenney served as a Police Officer in Glasgow, for four years before joining the Royal Marine Commandos in 1980. He saw combat service during the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands and later in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After leaving the service in 2009, he worked as team leader in a prison project for a UK charity in three High Security prisons teaching inmates life skills and personal development.

In 2015 he took on the role of Head of Programmes with Fathers Network Scotland.

CALA Conference 2016!

This year’s Conference is fast approaching and we’d like to bring you up to speed with our plans!

The Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald will open the Conference and set the scene for a busy day of networking and workshops.   A two course buffet lunch will be provided with time for delegates to browse our exhibitors and catch up with colleagues and friends.

We are delighted to have Karyn McCluskey, the Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, delivering the Keynote speech this year.   She will discuss vital aspects of early intervention and consider how we can ensure that children can grow up as part of a healthy community.

Our workshops this year look at aspects of family life and wellbeing in the 21st Century, from the impact of Child Poverty to the role of men in childcare.  Find out more by clicking on the titles below.

We look forward to seeing you there – booking is now open.

A5 Conference 2016

Book now to reserve your place at the 2016 CALA Conference!


We are now taking bookings for the 2016 CALA Conference! The theme of this years conference is “Family Matters – Opportunities and Challenges in the 21st Century“. Through a series of informative and thought-provoking presentations and workshops, we will explore some of the issues facing children and families in an age of unique challenges and opportunities.

The 2016 conference will take place on September 30th at Greyfriars Free Church, starting at 09:30am. Tickets cost £25 and can be purchased by visiting our booking page.

If you have an interest in the welfare of children and their place in society, we truly believe you’ll find the CALA Conference extremely worthwhile. Here are some of the things we have in store for you:

  • Mark McDonald MSP (Minister for Childcare and Early Years ) will be delivering the opening remarks for the conference. We’re thrilled to have Mark opening our conference, and are very much looking forward to hearing his take on the challenges facing Scotland’s children.
  • Our keynote address will be made by Karyn McCluskey of the Violence Reduction Unit (part of Police Scotland). Karyn has years of experience in the field of violence reduction, and we are delighted to have such an accomplished keynote speaker for our conference.
  • There is a choice of four workshops. The workshops are being delivered by experts in their fields, and are sure to leave you inspired, energised and informed. For more information on the workshops, please visit our conference page.
  • Lunch is included in the price, with a selection of hot and cold dishes available. Teas and coffees will also be served.
  • One of the aspects of our conference that attendees find most rewarding is the chance to network with a wide range of people in the childcare industry, giving you a chance to broaden your horizons and make valuable contacts.

If you’re ready to book a place at our conference, head over to our conference booking form. Payments can be made via PayPal or cheque. Take a look at our conference page if you’d like more information on the conference, which includes a detailed agenda and speaker biographies.

We’ve got a fantastic day lined up for our conference, packed full of informative presentations, engaging workshops, and the chance to meet like-minded childcare professionals. Book now to avoid disappointment!

We look forward to you joining us at the 2016 CALA Conference!