Learning Together at Home

As a result of school and nursery closure we are aware that as parents you may be worried about how your children will learn over the coming weeks.   We also know that this time of uncertainty and change in routine can be very unsettling for children.  Many of us are parents ourselves and know that extended periods of time at home can be challenging as a family.

Please do not panic about providing the curriculum for your children the way settings do. At this young age all learning in settings is through play and play is the greatest work a child can engage in.  Thanks to the huge commitment of staff throughout the authority we are pleased to offer a wide range of suggestions on activities for you to do with your children at home in the Sway below.

Every Monday, we will update our blog  with further tips and ideas of how to support your child’s learning at home.  A link to these will also be posted on our FCEYcentralteam Twitter  account @FCEYteam.

If you would like to share the home learning adventures you have with your child, please feel free to tweet them adding #FCLearnAtHome.

Go to this Sway


STEM in Early Years



A new online CLPL Module focused on STEM in ELC has been launched by the University of West Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government.
The online resource features practical activities, relevant reading, videos and examples of best practice in line with developing an ELC approach to STEM.

You might even see some familiar Falkirk faces with Bowhouse ELC taking part in the development of the module. Our very own Marvellous Mealtimes also features as a case study as part of the module materials.

The module can be accessed here (login required) The module will be available soon through the SSSC Learning Zone.

Share your thoughts on the new online module and the impact it is having on your practice to benefit Falkirk’s  wee people. Use our hashtag #WeeFalkirkSTEMpire to share your thoughts and STEM experiences!



Marvellous Mealtimes in Falkirk


Marvellous Mealtimes in Falkirk

Marvellous Mealtimes is Falkirk’s approach to ensuring our wee people have relaxed and unhurried snack and mealtimes. The approach is sweeping across Falkirk with 19 settings now embedding marvellous mealtimes. With the last phase of 1,140 now approaching, CPD sessions on the approach, for the whole team,  have now been organised for the 1st May 2020:

  • 9am-11am at St Patricks ELC
  • 1pm-3pm at Stenhousemuir ELC

Hear from practitioners who have developed marvellous meals and explore their marvellous meals spaces. Sign up on CPD Manager- be quick- spaces are filling up fast!

Marvellous Mealtimes: The Larder 

CPD Sessions for SEYO/PEYO’s have been organised to inform settings of the larder approach and the expectations aligned with the larder fund. Sessions will be held on:

  • 31st March at Bowhouse ELC 4pm-5.30pm
  • 2nd April at Carmuirs ELC 4pm-5.30pm

Have the opportunity to visit the settings marvellous mealtimes space and hear from Bonnypark ELC on developing Marvellous Mealtimes across a larger setting.

Sign up on CPD Manager Now!

Share your marvellous mealtimes experiences on twitter using  our hashtag #MarvellousMealtimesFC


Creating an ‘Environment of Wonder’.

St Patrick’s ELC’s journey to developing a quality environment as part of providing 1140hr provision.

As a staff team, we were passionate about creating an environment that cultivates children’s curiosity, creativity and wonder. We worked very hard to develop a shared vision for our new 1140 environment, recognising the impact our environment has on our children as ‘the 3rd educator’.

This involved looking inwards: self-evaluating our environment and the barriers we faced e.g. comfort, light, space, barriers to free flow play to our outdoor environment; using Building the Ambition to support our self-evaluation.


Next, looking outwards: Falkirk Opens its Doors to Play was an immeasurable support – getting into other quality environments and taking inspiration from good practice within our authority. Following these visits, our team consulted on aspects of good practice which would fit our vision. In addition we took time to research examples of quality environments and resources shared on on-line platforms which proved to be a great support to us. We found inspiration from pages that share their environments and resources, such as ‘The Curiosity Approach’, and as a team, we shared and discussed ideas, challenging each other in a supportive manner.

Then looking forwards: by getting involved in all aspects of planning for our environment. We worked very closely with our Architect at the planning stage, making changes such as; the position of our kitchen, adding extra windows, changing the boundaries of our garden etc. As a team (including our children, parents and staff) we made all decisions re. décor and furnishings of our environment.




Staff embraced the opportunity to make real environmental change and a shift in the resources we provided to support learning. Staff created a wish list in keeping with our research and carefully selected interesting items and resources to purchase with our budget.


Staff worked extremely hard to get all our resources in place and create a warm, welcoming, homely environment for our children and opened our doors in August on the first day of term to our children as an Early Learning Centre delivering 1140 hours of provision.  At that point, our environment continued to be an on-going daily priority. It was a focus of our daily dialogue; discussing how our children were using their environment, changes that were required and improvements we could make.

Block Play Guidance for Practitioners using Building the Ambition

Experiences which:

  • Encourage the child to wait their turn with their friends, for example, having the patience to wait for a turn whilst sharing the blocks and accessories at the blockplay.
  • Develop physical skills by building with blocks, strengthening muscles by moving in and around objects inside and outside.
  • Provide interesting objects to touch which encourage questions and language.
  • Help the child to see how things work, how objects can be moved and transported around; how similar blocks can be grouped together; how things balance.
  • Give the child time and space to be involved in their own schematic play and adults who support this.
  • Highlight a growing awareness of the need for some rules and why this is important and being able to respond to basic structures e.g. we wear our shoes in the blockplay area.
  • Allow children to use their imagination with role play, making models, constructing and designing.
  • Help children remember how they have solved a problem in the past and how this learning links to a current challenge.
  • Give time for children to find out similarities and differences in simple problem solving activities.

Adults who:

  • Understand the child’s own needs and preferences; for example, when the child is in a bigger group and how they may react, or when there are too many people around or it is too noisy.
  • Encourage children to initiate conversations and who extend these by asking well thought out questions.
  • Explain and model new words with the correct level of challenge to extend the child’s grasp of language.
  • Observe sensitively and intervene when necessary to extend the child’s thinking without over-direction and who do not interrupt moments of intense concentration.
  • Use techniques such as wondering aloud, explaining what is happening but all the time allowing the child to find out for them self what will happen next.
  • Encourage the young child to think, helping them to solve problems and giving the child time to come to a satisfying conclusion from the child’s view and then taking time to discuss this together.
  • Recognise differences in starting points of the individual child and encourage them at the appropriate level.
  • Encourage children to see another’s point of view through joint projects and cooperation in play.
  • Praise the child’s growing physical capabilities and challenge them to take the next step.
  • Pose questions which encourage inquiry such as, I wonder if, why do you think that, to extend the young child’s ability to verbalise their thoughts and actions.
  • Ask children I wonder what happens if… to help children make sense of what happens when you try things out.
  • Provide a range of resources to talk about which encourages children to be creative.
  • Help model techniques and strategies with children and encourage this new learning in the child’s new challenges or suggest a new context.

An environment which is:

  • Aware of providing materials and resources for children to use to find out how they move or what they are used for.
  • Provides resources which are interesting and stimulate questions and encourage children to communicate with each other.
  • Gives space to build, construct and take things apart and time to practise these skills over and over again.
  • Is organised to promote physical development, movement and spacial awareness inside and outside
  • Encourages inquiry and invites discussion and exploration with interesting objects to talk about and explore, stimulating curiosity.
  • Is supportive of giving time for the young child to persevere with their thinking and inquiries, to test their own theories out over several days or re-examine the same experience again over time in a variety of ways. For example, how to build a bridge across an area of the playroom using different materials without being constrained by overly formal routines of the day.


Come Along – Play-Based Pedagogy Sharing Practice Event

“Play is the Way! Come along to find out first-hand how Falkirk teachers and early years practitioners are using Froebelian principles and play-based pedagogy to deliver inspiring, motivating and developmentally appropriate learning experiences for Falkirk’s bairns. 2018 ENTHUSE winner, Nicola Connor, will also join us from West Lothian to share practical ways to promote STEM in your classroom through play and playful learning experiences.”

The Falkirk early years team are looking forward to hosting this play-based pedagogy workshop on behalf of Education Scotland’s Teacher Leadership Programme on February 10th 2020 in Camelon Education Centre  from 4PM-6PM and hope to see lots of our own Fab Falkirk folk there.  Please use the link below to sign up and come along to hear about some of the great learning and teaching happening in our schools and early learning settings.


Save the date… ELC Inclusion Fund release

The next phase of the ELC Inclusion Fund opens for applications on 28 October.

This fourth round of funding is available to support children with ASN to access their full entitlement to Early Learning and Childcare.

There is criteria to follow when applying. The fund is available to purchase equipment/resources; staff training; and, to fund adaptations.

More information about the fund can be viewed here

Application forms and details are to be made available on 28 October on the Children in Scotland website.

The process is straightforward and most Falkirk bids have been successful previously. However, if you need help or support with your application please do not hesitate to contact us.



Food Hygiene Refresher Course

Food Hygiene Refresher Training                                

A small reminder that all Falkirk ELC practitioners whose Elementary Food Hygiene certificate is approaching 5 years old should sign up for a two hour refresher course using CPD manager.  Refresher courses are run every 6 months and places are limited so please ensure you plan ahead if your certificate will be 5 years old within the next year and sign up promptly to reserve your space.  The next course will be held on March 4th 2020 from 4-6 PM in Camelon Education Centre.


The Pedagogue Ponders: A team really does make the dream work…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, without a team who feel valued, feel trusted and feel believed in, a leader has nothing. Our teams are the very people who, in their own individual and unique way, tie our leadership together, making for the very best early years experience for our wee people.

Just before the October holidays it was announced that at Bowhouse ELC, we achieved grades of six in our most recent care inspectorate. No easy achievement I may add, two years of hard work and nurturing a team which was valued, believed in and trusted was part of the recipe. Not forgetting our amazing wee people, their families and of course those leading leaders. We all need a leader. Someone to look up to, someone to talk to, seek support from and someone who believes, trusts and values you.

Two years ago, as I began a senior position in Bowhouse, I had no idea, just how important it was to lead a team effectively. It’s been two years of steep learning curves; finding myself as a leader, adjusting leadership to different people, the importance of laughter- even when it’s the last thing you want to do, of taking chances, continuing to stand firm in those chances even when everyone else continues in their comfort.

However the biggest learning curve- the thing that has only strengthened over time is the true value of teamwork. In the early days at Bowhouse there were just three of us and I now wonder how on earth we did it all. Free flow outdoor play, independent children helping to prepare snack, woodland visits, stories, songs, rhymes, blocks, planning, learning stories, the list is endless but we did do it. We believed in each other; knew each other strengths and weaknesses but weren’t ashamed of them. That’s why, even though I’m leading marvellous mealtimes across Falkirk, I’m banned from the Bowhouse kitchen, it would seem that actual cooking and baking is not a strength!

Anything is possible, regardless of the amount of people in your team, what really makes it all work is real effective teamwork.

In August 2018 our wee team of three became a team of 15. That in its self was another learning curve. Not only did I pass my senior early years officer hat on, I became an equity and excellence lead (Early Years Pedagogue). At Bowhouse we don’t do anything by halves so just added in the 1,140 expansion, a new senior, EEL, 8 EYO’s, 3 ELC Assistants and a few SfLA’s. As well as 56 wee people experiencing 1,140 for the first time we had a lovely new setting to set up. Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. However a year on, it seems that we’ve always been together. I suppose that’s because in the early days, as an Early Years Pedagogue, I relied on the team to step up and push fo excellence and boy did they deliver. It soon became apparent how different each member of the team was. Each creative, curious and exciting in their own way- even then I knew 1,140 was the best thing to happen to us.

Over the course of the last year we’ve come to respect and value each other for who we are. Claire for her never ending calmness, kindness and positive outlook as well as being the best SEYO! Jacqui for her nurturing and soothing ways with our wee people and families and can do attitude. Teresa for her passion of all things stories, music and rhyme- missed her calling to the stage so is our resident songstress in Bowhouse. Jennifer who has embraced Froebel and transformed our concrete jungle into a gardeners haven, always taking the time to involve our wee people, each and everyone of them. Rachel for her sense of humour- always knowing when a wee laugh is needed, Rachel’s knowledge of family support makes her our go to person when we need to chat. Kimberley’s relationship with her families and the way she knows what they need and how to get it, makes sure our wee people have the best experience, a marvellous mealtime marvel is our Kimberley. Lynne our outdoor warrior has also developed our wee people’s experiences outdoors and has a way of drawing a crowd of wee people, where ever she is, this alone speaks volumes. Kirstie, whose hidden talents include knowing baby shark word by word, provides our children with the love and nurture they need. Always a nurturing soul for our families too is our Kirstie. Emma, just recently returned from maternity leave, is as positive as you will find. Always willing to try new things out and learn, When Jodie walks in our door at 11am, your always sure to know as a chorus of “It’s Jodie’” takes place as our wee people run up to welcome her. That in itself speaks for the kind and caring practitioner Jodie is. Rachel , quietly confident as she reads stories in a relaxing voice, so much so we all need some quiet time. Mel whose enthusiasm for learning shines through as her ever curious practice means it’s all teach, all learn in Bowhouse.

In light of our excellent inspection, I felt it was important to take the time to speak of the Bowhouse ELC team, let you know a little of them and the amazing work they do EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and glow of an excellent report, however we know we can’t become complacent. That excellence has to be maintained, boundaries need to be pushed, innovation needs to happen.

It is as simple as this, without them- the team, excellence would not happen. Confident, independent, successful and curious wee people would not be moving on in the world without the team.

I would not be a leader without a team who supports me, challenges me, praises me, reigns me in (it happens daily!) and most importantly works with me.

Without them I’m just a person with an idea and what good is that, when you have no one to share it with?


ELC – Bake Off for Maths Week – Week Beginning 30 September

I am absolutely delighted that baking is becoming a core experience for our young children in Falkirk settings.

Many of you have locked this into your curriculum rationale stating that this rich experience supports holistic development.

Without exception, baking experiences, done regularly enough, supports children to learn important early mathematical skills such as counting, ordering/sequencing, comparing, estimating, weighing, measuring.

So, to celebrate Maths Week Scotland (w/b 30 September) we are inviting you to get involved in an authority-wide Bake Off for Maths Week.

Prof. Aline-Wendy Dunlop from Strathclyde has thrown her support behind the idea on Twitter:

“Like the word ‘mathematising’ Lisa- like Making ‘human sense’ of maths – so much to talk about in a recipe – quantity, weighing, measuring, estimating, comparing, sequencing – that’s the adult knowledge bit for great interactions – as you say counting and sorting! Lovely idea!”

We are very happy for you to do your own tasting challenge but, to win an authority prize you are asked to:

  • Keep a visual record of how children are developing and using maths knowledge and skills through baking across the week (be as creative as you want). Special consideration should be given to involving parents and the community.

Prizes are available for the best stories.

To register your involvement tweet using #FalkirkELCBakeOffForMaths Tag @FClisamccabe @Falkirk1140 @numhubchampfalk

So far, we have the following settings signed-up:

Camelon ELC Centre

Rannoch ELC Centre

Kinnaird Primary ELC

Victoria Primary ELC

Wellside ELC

St Francis Xavier Primary ELC

Easter Carmuirs Primary ELC

Beancross Primary ELC

Bainsford Primary ELC

Avonbridge Primary ELC

Comely Park Primary ELC


Three. Two. One. Bake.