Scottish Government ELC Modules Launched

As we prepare for the expansion of funded ELC to 1140 hours this August, the Scottish Government are providing extra support to the sector to ensure that we have a well-trained, professional and skilled workforce with free access to high quality online Continuous Professional Learning resources.

They launched the first module on the 31st of January 2020. This module is focused on enhancing staff skills, knowledge and confidence in delivering early learning in STEM.  Some Highland staff have accessed this already.

The module on supporting the development and progression of children’s early language and literacy was launched on 24th Feb.

All of the online modules can be accessed on the UWS’s website at: Users will need to create an account and then search “STEM” to enrol.  It will also be made available on the Care Inspectorate CPL National Directory for ELC and on the SSSC website over the course of the next few weeks.

Further modules will soon be made available to all ELC staff, as follows:

Supporting parents to further engage in their children’s development: 12th of March

Building confidence in identifying and responding to additional support needs: 26th of March. 

Realising the Ambition Launched Today!

Launched today, Realising the Ambition: Being Me builds upon the original principles and philosophy of Pre-Birth to 3 and Building the Ambition.

This refreshed early years national practice guidance for Scotland presents key information about the characteristics of child development based on research and evidence.

It explores the range of interactionsexperiences and spaces we need to provide for babies and young children to help them learn and grow best from their earliest days through to being a young child in early primary school.

In essence, ‘Realising the Ambition: Being Me’ increases expectations of high quality but still provides the necessary support for all who work in the early years sector and beyond.

This guidance is for use by anyone who works with and for babies and young children across both early learning and childcare settings and early primary school.

Highland Council will be organising engagement sessions for this new resource over the next few months.  Read more about engaging with this new resource now at the link below.

Developing the Learning Environment at Holm ELC

Holm ELC have recently taken some steps to develop the quality of both their indoor and outdoor learning environments.  The Depute Head, Janine Webb, has shared the inspiration behind the changes and the impact this has had on the children.  Read more about their journey of change below.

‘The initial focus started following our recent Care Inspectorate inspection.  The setting has been transformed in response to feedback. 


‘We started to look at our existing resources and make better use of the natural loose parts we already had – this then went into larger loose part pieces in the outdoor environment as we attempted to blur the boundaries/thresholds  between outside and inside.

We looked at literature from Play Scotland and asked parents for donations of additional materials. We had been very aware of getting numeracy and literacy into the outdoors but now had much more of a focus on bringing more natural materials inside the setting.

There has been a positive impact on the children regarding the changes we made in the items that we chose to display.  It was suggested we question who the displays were for and the time taken to turn them around. We now use a more regular Floorbook approach for planning and anything that does get put up on display is then added to our Floorbook at the appropriate time.  The children are much calmer and to be honest don’t look up much past their own height so the lack of display has not affected them – the calmer colours and lighting has definitely had a more positive impact for all.

The setting supports breakfast club and out of school care so we attempted to also make it more of a chilled space for the older pupils after school. We have installed low level lighting and fairy lights and use the bright fluorescent lights only as and when required.’


Parents helped us to organise the outdoor resources and following some community support from house building firms, we created different levels in the garden; we did some additional landscaping in the garden (sensory path). This is part of our School Improvement Plan (SIP) work on curriculum design and is still ongoing.

The pirate ship project was part of Friendship Friday – a whole school initiative to establish play based, skill driven activity sessions across CfE levels. This too in response to our SIP and part of a Curriculum redesign and a fresh look at our Vision, Values, Aims and Ethos.’ 

Janine Webb, DHT, Holm Primary and Nursery

Messy Maths Outdoors at Country Bumpkins Nursery!

Children working together to make the loose parts pattern symmetrical.  Gross motor skills developed as children move and manipulate the tyres.


The middle line created using a plank of wood.  
Adults carefully observing children’s play, supporting when necessary to extend and reinforce learning and new vocabulary.

Estimating lengths using loose parts.  The metre line rope acts as a guide to check if estimates are accurate.

Murray Mackay is an Early Years Practitioner supporting children’s play and learning at Country Bumpkins Nursery.  He is also one of the outdoor leaders taking part in ‘Laying the Trail for Outdoor Learning’ course with Highland Council.  Part of the work Murray has taken forward is to develop aspects of the curriculum outdoors.  Inspired by ideas from Juliet Robertson’s book,  ‘Messy Maths – A Playful, Outdoor Approach for Early Years’, Murray has reflected on his own practice and introduced some new approaches to support children’s play and learning outdoors.  Hear a bit more from him below as he shares some of the ideas taken forward in his setting:

Metre Length Line

‘We started this indoors, measuring a line of animals and foam bricks against the rope, before removing the rope and seeing if we could estimate the length! We then went outside and used stones and pine cones to do the same, using mathematical language to discuss if we needed ‘more’, ‘less’ or ‘it’s the same.’’


‘We have used planks and tyres to introduce the idea of symmetry out in the garden. We named the plank the ‘middle line’ and discussed how we wanted everything on either side of the plank to ‘be the same.’ I added one tyre to one side and asked the children if it was the same on the two sides, they quickly saw it wasn’t and with a little prompt they ran to get another tyre to make it equal! I stepped away at this point and just let the group move the tyres to either side: working on our theme of symmetry and measure as well as developing gross motor skills at the same time.’

Take a look at Creative Star Learning Ltd’s blog page for more ideas and inspiration to help you make the most of your outdoor spaces!