Learning, Development & Quality Improvement



Norma Ruettimann, Director of Learning & Quality

Having taken a career break from my conference and banqueting role to have children, I became involved in toddlers and playgroup as a volunteer, then practitioner then as a part-time development officer in Badenoch and Strathspey. Fast forward several years, my son and daughter are all grown up and my role in CALA has grown and diversified.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in developing and delivering a variety of projects, training & quality improvement and have travelled many miles across Highland and Moray and other local authorities in the process. As Education Scotland say “every day’s a learning day” and with ongoing developments and expansion in child care and learning, there is always an interesting new challenge and learning gained from the inspiring adults and children I come into contact with.

I spend my time between Highland and Glasgow and enjoy walking, yoga,  eating out and going to music events (not necessarily in that order!)

Marion Laidlaw, Improvement Coordinator

I started my working life as a social worker but when my children came along, decided I’d much rather work with wee ones. I got involved as a parent with my local playgroup then started working there in 1995 and haven’t looked back since! In 2011, I took on the rewarding role as Childhood Practice Manager which allowed me to combine working with children and supporting staff to develop their skills as practitioners – the best of both worlds! This has naturally led to my current role, as I have the privilege of working with people across the breadth of CALA services.

The aim is to continually develop high-quality practice to provide the very best for children and families. No two days are the same: different people and places to see, and always something new to learn!

Outside of work, I enjoy music, cooking and baking but most especially spending time with my family including discovering the great joy of being a Grandma – all the fun without the responsibility

Corrina Shearer, Learning & Digital Development Coordinator

I live in Dulnain Bridge in the Badenoch & Strathspey area where I am fortunate enough to have beautiful views of the Cairngorm Mountains from my windows. In my spare time I love walking and cycling with my two dogs Kylo and Hughie.

My working life has always been in Early Learning and Childcare in a variety of roles across England and Scotland. My role as Training Officer for CALA sees me travelling all over Highland & Moray in the CALA van taking in the beautiful views and meeting lots of lovely, dedicated people working in various sectors within Early Learning and Childcare, Childminding, Education and Health.

Ruth Gomes

I began my career in childcare eleven years ago volunteering in a school nursery. This inspired me to gain some formal qualifications in Early Education. I began studying and went on to complete my BA in Childhood Practice. This led on to me managing an outdoor preschool in the Highlands. I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in outdoor education and really value the benefits of outdoor play for children of all ages.

After some time off to care for my young family, I joined CALA as a Childhood Practice Manager in April 2018.

At home I am kept busy with my three boys; walking our dogs, going on trips, watching movies together and trying to beat each other at Monopoly!

Connie Spouge – Senior Active Play Practitioner 

Having changed my career path after having children I was introduced into a career working with children. The change in direction introduced me to a new found enthusiasm and passion for work. My career has seen me working with children of all ages and it has led to me becoming a huge advocate of play for children. Having been offered the position within the Active Play programme seemed like fate and a job specifically made for me. I love been able to build relationships with children through play and watch how their curious and adventurous minds develop and discover the world around them.

I live in Forres, Moray with my two beautiful girls and my husband. I love spending time with my family and friends, spending as much time as possible outdoors. We have the most fun together climbing trees, beach trips, woodland walks and discovering new places around our beautiful local area. 

Ruth Menzies – Assistant Active Play Practitioner 

Having grown up in Ullapool surrounded by beautiful scenery and easy access to activities , I have developed a love for exploring the great outdoors. Now living in Jamestown I am able to go mountain biking,  kayaking, canoeing and snorkeling right on my doorstep.  

I am able to bring this passion to help children feel inspired to play and explore outside. I first starting working with CALA through staffbank which involved supporting a variety of different settings and roles. I then started working at our out of school club in Strathpeffer in May last year.

I am now excited to bring my play experience and interests to this new role as Assistant Active Play Practitioner.