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

Watten Wee Ones

Watten Wee Ones is a voluntary run Toddler Group supported by one of our Family Practitioners, Jules Taylor.  She has shared with us how the committee has worked together to support their families during Covid-19.  Here’s what Jules had to say:

I just wanted to share the thoughtful good practice of Watten Wee Ones in supporting children’s play and learning during lockdown.

Watten Wee Ones used to be a small group, which was poorly attended but some lovely local parents agreed to form a new committee and became a CALA member group.  This enabled them to apply for funding and gave them the freedom to implement their own ideas and encourage more families from the community to join in.  The group is now thriving and last year received funding from the local wind farm which has helped them to continue to improve, providing rich play experiences for the children and families attending.  Each week they provide a variety of activities, usually in themes that run over a course of around 4 weeks supporting children’s interests.


Because they are not able to offer their weekly activities to the families that attend during the pandemic, the very proactive Committee has come up with the idea of putting together an activity pack to send out FREE to families that wish to receive one. 

When a family opens the pack, they find a rainbow with their child’s name on it. Packs include a whole range of inviting resources to support play experiences including kits to make and assemble, crafts, playdough, paints, puppet kits and bubbles. There are also some glue dots and lollipop sticks so they can make the box into a small world scene – nothing is wasted!

The packs have been posted out to families and here are some of the responses:

“Flora was very excited to receive her craft box today! She’s already had loads of fun with it (as did her brother and sister) and still has lots left to do! Thank you so much!!”

 “Cammie loved the box and has painted everything including herself.  Thanks so much for the box it’s been great.  We are really missing the group and Cammie has turned into a grump not being able to socialise.”

 “Amazing support and contact from Water Wee Ones, it ensures that we still feel part of a group even though we are apart.  The excitement of getting the parcel to cheer us up and give a constructive activity was just the pick me up for us mums and babies indoors every day with little social interaction.  Many thanks and thank you to the volunteers cannot wait until we are together again…. stay safe – Archie.”

The committee has done a wonderful job and this pack clearly demonstrates their ongoing commitment to supporting their families and thinking of others during these strange times.  

A huge Well Done and Thumbs Up from CALA



Update information and upcoming events

Care Inspectorate Update

ELC including childminders and out of school care

The announcement made by the First Minister on Thursday 21 May 2020 outlined the Scottish Government Route Map and a phased approach is planned to the lifting of lockdown. The First Minister was clear in her message that each stage will be reviewed and take account of scientific evidence and research before we move forward.

Click here to read more 

Share the Love 2020 – Fri 29th – Sun 31st May

The ‘Share The Love’ festival is  Who Cares? Scotland digital festival to support participation and engagement activities for people with care experience across the country during this period of isolation and social distancing.  The festival will include a variety of different activities and broadcasts that cover learning, getting active and showcasing talents. 

Click here to find out more

Words up Wednesdays

Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) team in Highland are hosting an exciting weekly opportunity on Wednesday’s during June to focus on one of the Words Up key messages each week.

Click here to find out more

Information on reopening of schools/childcare etc.

Letter to all childcare providers from Scottish Government ELC Directorate

Yesterday, the First Minister made a statement to the Scottish Parliament setting out Scotland’s routemap through and out of the crisis, including a phased approach out of lockdown.

Click on the link to access a letter from the Scottish Government Early Learning and Childcare Directorate to all childcare providers outlining what this will mean for us all.

Click here to access

Parent Club support for parents on the reopening of Schools/ELC’s

Parent Club ha provided useful information to help inform parents of how schools/ELC’s will reopen over the coming months.

Parent Club state:

“As you may have heard, schools are set to reopen this August. However, things won’t be the same as they were before the coronavirus outbreak – schools will be making changes to ensure that everyone stays safe.

On our new back to school FAQ page, we answer as many questions as we can about what those changes will be and how they’ll affect your family”

Click here to access

Information on transitions and Gaelic language learning at home resources

Early Learning and Childcare Highland

ELC Highland has posted updated information on Developmental Overviews and transitions to Primary 1 in the current situation due to COVID-19.

Read the full article on ELC Highland blog by clicking here:


Cluichidh sinn Còmhla’ – Resources to Support Gaelic Language Learning at Home

Cluichidh sinn Còmhla’ is a new resource created in collaboration with Early Years Practitioners who are linking ‘Bumps to Bairns’ play-based learning activities to language opportunities.

Read the full article on ELC Highland blog by clicking here

Update on the use of PPE in Childcare settings

Click on the link below to listen to a short video clip from Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director sharing information about what the science tells us and why childcare and education workers don’t need special protective equipment or face coverings while caring for children in hubs/settings

Click here to access the video

Update Information

Career Advice – Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

As First Minister has just announced, anyone concerned about their learning or work during the current crisis can now access free one-to-one career advice through SDS helpline on 0800 917 8000   

Click here to access the media release from SDS

Skills Development Scotland Online Portal – free access to online learning materials

SDS has introduced an online learning portal to connect people with thousands of free-to-access online learning materials. Additional opportunities will be included in the coming weeks and months.  People who have been furloughed or made redundant are being encouraged to develop their skills with the help of this new online resource.

Click here to access the media release from SDS

Children’s Parliament – National children’s wellbeing survey

Children’s Parliament is supporting a national survey for children aged 8 to 14 years old. It is designed to measure the wellbeing of children during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The survey is anonymous and can be accessed here.

Care Inspectorate – Young inspectors video message 

Our young inspectors have made a video to share their thoughts and ideas about staying safe and getting through the lockdown

Practical information and advice

With so much really useful and practical advice and guidance around we thought you might find it useful if we collated a few together to share with you. We hope you find them helpful.

May Calendar – Action for Happiness

This Meaningful May Calendar has daily actions for May 2020 to help us respond to this global crisis with a sense of purpose and meaning. 

Click here for further useful information from Action for Happiness

Top tips for bedtime = Parent Club

Many parents are reporting that due to the current COVID-19 situation they are seeing changes in their children’s sleeping patterns etc, Parent Club provides really useful advice and top tips – visit Parent Club and enter ‘sleeping’ to their search facility to view a host of options to explore.

What’s the Problem? – Stop it now

Being online with their friends, doing lessons etc. is the norm at the moment for our children – What’s the problem? – is a useful guide for parents about staying safe online and what to do if problems arise from ‘Stop it Now’

Click here to access

At Home with Ziggy toolkit (as highlighted in Education Scotland)

Road Safety Scotland’s free ‘Go Safe with Ziggy!’ road safety learning resource helps equip young children with the skills, knowledge and attitudes that will help them stay safe now, and in later life. Download the toolkit here.

Mindfulness – Information from NHS

NHS state:

“Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing”.

This useful page provides you with access to ‘mood self-assessment’ quiz, information on ‘mindfulness’ and links to other useful wellbeing information.

Click here to access

Care and Learning Alliance

We have created several different pages on our website which we hope families are finding useful. Check them out at:

Keep safe information for families during COVID-19 – quick useful links to both national and local services to support families

 Click here to access

Play and Learning Ideas – lots of simple play ideas to do at home for children of all ages

Click here to access

Keep up to date with news from CALA services – our practitioners from each of our sessions are working hard to stay connected and continue to support their children and families. Each setting is posting messages and ideas.

Click here to access.

Child Protection – Information on how to keep children safe and how to share concerns.

Click here to access.

Week ending 1st May 2020: Summary of information updates

The Care Inspectorate  shared the following information:

  • Update for ELC and Childminders on the COVID-19 staff absences

“The recent COVID-19 staff absences notification that went live on the 17th April is being revised and there is no longer a requirement for ELC and childminders to complete these. 

Please continue to complete the daily survey for the Scottish Government, remembering to use the name the service is registered under, and submit it before 3pm”.

Safety Notice from Care Inspectorate

IRIC Alcohol-based hand rubs risk of fire

The Incident Reporting & Investigation Centre has released an information message containing guidance on the risk of fire from alcohol-based hand rubs. 

You can view the information message here.

Information form Highland Third Sector Interface (HTSI)

HTSI has created a COVID-19 response website – ‘Highland Community COVID-19 Response’

There are a lot of resources available for Third Sector Organisations – from Social Media tutorials to Self-Care

You can also register to volunteer – HTSI is maintaining a register of volunteers who are ready and willing to support across the Highland Region

Click here to access the site

Important update from Highland Child Protection Committee

COVID 19 – Interim Changes to Highland Child Protection Guidance

The Highland Child Protection Committee has issued an update to Child Protection Guidance for during COVID-19. They state:

“The Scottish Government update to National Child Protection Guidance supports interim changes to local arrangements for child protection practice. Following this document, some small amendments have been agreed to Child Protection Guidance in Highland. These will be in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and reviewed regularly. The Interim Guidance should be considered alongside the Highland Child Protection Guidance and can be accessed here.”

Click here to access

A day in the life of a CALA Practice Manager during lockdown

Today is ‘International take your child to work day’. This annual event on the 4th Thursday in April is an educational program in the United States and Canada where parents take their children to work with them for one day. The day is designed to help children explore the workforce. With children out of school and many of us working from home at the moment, don’t forget to consider the positive ‘learning and insights to the world of work’ your children will be getting from watching you work (they will be learning even when you think they are not watching!).

To celebrate,  our CALA Practice Manager, Donna Sinclair has shared insight to her ‘lockdown’ working day with us along with some photos of her working alongside her children and just to cheer us all up – a few of her super cute furry friends!

From Donna:

“I hope everyone is keeping safe and well.  Like many of you I’m finding life at home is very busy and most of the day is juggling home schooling for my two children in Primary 4 and Primary 7 and trying to convince my nearly 16 year old to get up to do some work.  I’m working from home and have the extra challenge of studying – I’m in my 3rd year of BA Childhood Practice so with everything else going on, it can be hard to concentrate and find the time needed to complete my assignments.

My day starts with a 4 mile walk with our Collie at about 6.30 and then we begin work and school.  We go outside during breaks and lunches to bounce on the trampoline, play in their den or generally run about and play games.  I am trying to keep a routine going which is definitely helping to keep us all motivated.  We are very lucky as we live on a wee farm with a few sheep and highland cows.  

I thought you’d like to see some pictures of our animals. The sheep in the picture is Nibbles who was a pet lamb 3 years ago, she always comes for a cuddle. She’s expecting twins so we can’t wait to see the lambs!  We have just recently had 3 highland calves born who are called Bailey, Daisy (original name for a cow ?) and Poppy and they are very fluffy and cute bouncing around the field.  Our lambing is about to start so it will be nice for the kids to be able to help through the day around school work.

Every evening and more often if needed, we go to check on the animals and walk through our burn and fields. I know we are so lucky to have all this space and the weather has been kind too.  Nobody is sure how long this will last but staying connected and reaching out helps to keep our spirits up.

We will be doing our weekly clap and drumming of pans on Thursday (I broke my spoon last week ?) as a massive Thank You to all the key workers and NHS staff working hard to save lives.

Stay Safe everyone”