Current Projects


Our employability project – #openingdoors has been running for 4 years now and covers Inverness and the Inner Moray firth area, Nairn-shire, Sutherland and Easter Ross. We support, mentor and guide young people ages 16-24 years as well as adults, into a career in childcare.

Find out more about #openingdoors project and careers in ELC.

Click here for information on volunteering with CALA

Active Play    

CALA has supported the Active Play Programme in partnership with Inspiring Scotland and The Highland Council over the last two years.

For this year, our programme will run from April – December 2020 in 20 Primary schools in the Inverness area, funded by NHS Highland, delivered in partnership with The Highland Council.

 Programme Background

This programme was initiated by Inspiring Scotland and offers a unique contribution to both raising attainment and improving children’s health and wellbeing.  Inspiring Scotland works to tackle some of the long-term, entrenched social problems faced by Scotland’s people and communities. Their Active Play model has been developed in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, who continue to do ongoing research on programme delivery in schools across various local authorities in Scotland.

Evidence from the research is strong: the Active Play programme boosts physical activity in children, helps develop fundamental movement skills such as coordination and balance and is also linked to helping close the attainment gap

with evidence of improved emotional, social and cognitive development for some children.

For further information click here

About the programme in Highland Schools

 Active Play in schools involves an hour-long weekly session during curriculum time (over and above PE) with individual classes.  Each session is split into semi structured physical games and free play.  The games have been designed to focus on developing fundamental movement skills contributing to physical literacy. The free play element provides the opportunity for the children to consolidate these skills and gain many more.

All sessions focus on being FUN, ACTIVE and INCLUSIVE, providing positive early experiences to encourage children and young people to continue to enjoy being physically active throughout life.

Parent and Community workshops are also offered in each school involved in the Active Play Programme. This provides parents and the wider school community with the opportunity to consider the importance of the physical activity in their children’s overall learning and development and the opportunity to explore social and physical play and recall their own memories of play.

All sessions are delivered outdoors by our experienced Play Practitioners and supported by class teachers and other school staff.

COVID Update

With ongoing restrictions in schools and in line with the relevant guidance from the Scottish Government, we adapted the Active Play Programme and began delivery in some of our Early Learning and Childcare settings.

Read about our delivery at our Wimberley Way Childcare Centre in Inverness.

Click on the link to open the book.

Exploring New Models of Early Learning and  Childcare in Rural Areas

Care and Learning Alliance (CALA) have been successful in obtaining Social Innovation funding from the European Social Fund and the Scottish Government to pilot the delivery of new and innovative models of early learning and child care in rural areas to support a sustainable rural community.

Key partners in this research project, which is running until the end of March 2020, include, Inverness College UHI, University of Edinburgh, NHS Highland, Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland, The Shieling Project, Cantraybridge College and Dementia Friendly Communities.

The project is focusing on four main strands to test out the viability of different ideas/models and to identify barriers to accessing inclusive quality ELC in rural areas.

The four main strands can be summarised as follows:

  • Mobile nurseries – the idea of bringing the nursery to the children, or looking at different methods of transport to facilitate access for children to quality ELC. We will also be exploring the option of a mobile provider neutral workforce working within existing nurseries when they currently close, i.e. in school holidays in school buildings.
  • Alternative spaces and different times – testing different locations and times including weekends to suit the needs of working parents. The focus will be on taster sessions assessing the viability and interest in these options at different local venues, including a Wildlife park, formal gardens, community woodlands and also working with the Forestry Commission and with local businesses for other indoor models.
  • Intergenerational Partnerships and inclusive – learning from the success of intergenerational work elsewhere and exploring opportunities for different intergenerational experiences and shared use of space. Pilots will include work within care homes, with a dementia group and with young adults with learning disabilities.
  • Sustainable and multi-skilled workforce – looking at whether there is an option for a generic care qualification and registration, enabling staff to work with both children and adults at the same time in shared spaces or merely within the community as a whole.

For further information on the project: e-mail Emily Stokes, Project Manager, [email protected]


Play@Home originated in New Zealand in 1990 and is a physical activity programme for children from birth to five years. The programme provides resources for parents to help them support their children to participate in physical activity.

Find out more about Play@Home.

Smart Start

Smart Start is a health and wellbeing programme aimed at young children (3-5 years) in Early Learning and Childcare settings. It provides children with the opportunity to engage in activities endorsing key messages on nutritional eating and physical activity. Smart Start is funded through NHS Highland, and managed by CALA, working in close collaboration with the Highland Council.

Find out more about Smart Start.


The CALA Family Support team have a unique toolbox of skills and this includes being qualified to deliver the peep Learning Together Programme.

The Learning Together Programme (LTP) aims to help parents and carers to:

  • value and extend learning opportunities in everyday life
  • improve the quality of the Home Learning Environment
  • develop secure attachment relationships with their babies and children
  • in some circumstances gain credit-rated qualification units based on
  • supporting their child’s learning and development.
  • By supporting parents/carers, the programme aims to improve children’s:
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • communication and language
  • early literacy development
  • early numeracy development
  • health and physical development

peep sessions last around an hour and are a fun and engaging way for children and parents to have fun and learn together. peep sessions include songs, stories an activity and are always FUN!

Gaelic Toddler Group Project

CALA, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and Highland Council are working in partnership to develop a vibrant Gaelic 0-3 early years sector across the Highlands.

Find out more about the Gaelic Toddler Group Project.

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