This year, the Northern Alliance Early Years Network is focusing on what we can do collaboratively to sustain and improve the quality of ELC across the Northern Alliance in preparation for the expansion of Early Learning and Childcare. We agreed to focus on four key themes within ‘Quality of ELC’:

  • Curriculum Design
  • Self-Evaluation
  • Outdoor Learning and Play
  • Building Leadership Capabilities

We agreed that we needed to bring together members of our local authority Early Years teams to share expectations and agree action points within each of the themes across our Collaborative. We also felt that it would be useful to invite colleagues from Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate and SSSC to deliver the national message and help shape discussions.

On 8th and 9th October, representatives from each of our local authorities came together for two days of rich discussion, shared practice and great networking! Key messages from our national presenters gave us lots to talk about and think about in taking forward next steps.

Within each quality theme we explored, colleagues from across the Northern Alliance shared what was working well for them.

  • Curriculum Design ‘Three Assets Approach’ – Argyll and Bute
  • Self-Evaluation ‘A Floorbook Approach’ – Orkney
  • Outdoor Learning and Play – ‘Working with Juliet Robertson’ – Aberdeen City
  • Building Leadership Capabilities ELC Academy

The opportunity to share practice and to network with colleagues was a very important part of our two days. Colleagues valued the time spent sharing learning and making connections for future collaboration.

At the end of Day 1, Mohamed Hamed from ‘Ajenta’ met with us to see how we can make better use of ‘Vscene’ – an online communication tool which the Early Years Network are currently using, to help us communicate and collaborate more effectively both within each local authority and across the Northern Alliance. By the end of this session, colleagues were impressed by the range of online options available to us for communicating which we are keen to trial over the next few months.

We were also delighted to welcome Aileen McLean to our Quality Workshop. Aileen is Professional Advisor to the Scottish Government’s ELC Delivery Team. Aileen talked with us about leading quality in local authorities and what needed to be in place for the expansion on ELC – and beyond!

Aileen referred to a document called ‘Rapid Evidence Review: Childcare Quality and Children’s Outcomes’ –

This document outlines the following key aspects of high quality ELC within a local authority:

Next steps for the Northern Alliance Early Years Network is to:

  • Reflect on key messages from our time together
  • Build agreed and informed actions around each of our four quality themes for us to take forward together, as a collaborative.
  • Plan for more opportunities for networking and sharing practice.


Kathleen Johnston – Northern Alliance Early Years Network Lead
October 2019


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