Falkirk Early Years Pedagogues

Who can believe that the last week of the first term is upon us? It has been a privilege to witness teams across Falkirk work together to ensure their wee people have the very best early learning experience. Our practitioners have gone above and beyond for children and families – we really do have, #fabfalkirkfolk.

Our Early Years Pedagogue team have been working on many interesting projects during the first term. Like everyone else, our team have had to adapt to our current circumstances and develop new ways of working with children, families and teams.

Our Falkirk Early Years Pedagogue poster gives you more information on our role as Equity and Excellence Leads.

We also have to think about the way in which we are sharing our work with practitioners. Each of our Pedagogues have developed a Sway which details their progress in developing different projects. These will be updated monthly and you will be able follow each project as it develops. Follow the links below to have a look at what we have been up to in the last few weeks and get to know our Pedagogues a wee bit better. Remember you will need your Glow login!

Elaine Haughton- Carmuirs ELC

Helena MacPhail- Sacred Heart ELC

Donna Green- Nethermains ELC and Froebel Falkirk Lead

Claudette Wright- Beancross ELC

Louise Harrison- Bowhouse ELC- COMING SOON!!

Lisa Boa- Bainsford ELC

Yvonne Robinson- Victoria ELC and Queen Street ELCC

Our early years pedagogues have been focusing on :

What Matters to Me?

Our What Matters to Me projects stem from Jason Leitch’s TED talk in which he spoke about a what matters to me approach for patients in hospital. We wondered how this approach would look in ELC while thinking about transitions, care planning and responsive and intentional planning. Have a wee look at the video below, we are sure it will definitely get you thinking!

Children’s Creativity

Our Pedagogues will be exploring the progression of children’s creativity using the Duffy Scales. From painting to dancing, our Pedagogues and their teams have their creativity hats on in developing these experiences, spaces and interactions across their settings.

Early Mathematics

Our Pedagogues and their teams will be exploring different mathematical concepts through the use of Cuisenaire rods. We are currently receiving CLPL on this and will begin this project after the October break.

Keep in touch

The Pedagogue sways will also share unique successes and developments within settings that happen out with the identified projects. From nurturing nature, to our fabulous Froebel initiatives, we hope you’ll find these sways useful in sharing our work.

You will also be able to read about our pedagogues in the Falkirk early years newsletter. Look out for our pedagogue ponders section.

You can now also follow us on twitter @FalkirkEYP to keep up to date with our latest developments.

Let us know what you think of our sways and get in touch for more information.


#ArtyMathsFalkirk – Keep Going


After another week of celebrating all things Maths as part of Scottish Maths Week, it is important to think about what’s been achieved.

First of all, I want to say a huge WELL DONE and THANK YOU to everyone across Falkirk’s ELC community for showing, once again, that you are on a mission! As a community, you are always keen to support our initiatives and with a gentle spark, you really embrace the opportunity to develop memorable experiences for children.

Photo: Courtesy of Sacred Heart ELC Class via Twitter

What have you learned about the children and and yourselves?

The energy and enthusiasm shown during Maths Week is very special, so we need to make sure that we reflect on what went well and what have we learned. When we know this, we can keep going and keep improving.

This year we asked you to think about where is the Mathematics in Art. In doing so, we wanted to provide you with the opportunity to look closely at children as they play but through the lens of asking: “where’s the Maths?”

Photo: Courtesy of Queen Street ELC Centre via Twitter

In doing this, I am sure you realised that, even over a short window of time, the awesome potential that  young children have to think and behave mathematically, appropriate to their developmental stage, of course. You will have, I’m sure, noticed children being highly competent in their knowledge of a broad range of essential foundational mathematical concepts.

In using Art as a context, you’ve also been give a reminder that foundations of Maths is more than numerals and counting. Counting is vitally important and we need to make sure we find lots of natural ways, relevant to children, to support them to recognise numbers and count objects. Absolutely.

“Numeracy is not just about being able to count. It is about developing number sense which encourages creativity of thought and it allows children to interact with the world around them”. Realising the Ambition, page 74

But, let’s not forget that for children to develop reasoning skills, essential for the mathematical brain to develop, we must support a range of other essential concepts: Matching. Sorting. Grouping. Categorising. Time. Pattern. Shape. Measure. Movement.

Photo: Courtesy of Wellside Kingergarten via Twitter

So, what next?

You mustn’t lose what you’ve started.

Now that you know what children are capable of, you must keep looking for the Maths within the rich experiences you are offering to children.

Think: how am I seeing the child thinking and behaving mathematically?

Make sure children get the credit for what they know and can do.

After maths week, I am sure children’s profiles will be full of rich observations with numeracy and mathematics featuring prominently. But, for progress to be maintained, you have to keep looking and noting as children play: What maths am I seeing now? What is new? What is different? What is important? What is surprising?

Support and Guidance
This is a good time to remind you all about the excellent resource from Education Scotland. You can find the materials on the National improvement Hub here.

Please take time to read the Guidance Document first of all. It’s only 8 pages long but it talks specifically about Early Level and the important connections with Realising the Ambition.

The other materials, for each of the key areas of Numeracy and Maths within the curriculum, have an Early Level section. I am delighted to say that there is an explicit and very helpful focus on play pedagogy and in keeping with Realising the Ambition.

You can also take a look on Twitter at the fabulous learning throughout Maths Week in Falkirk by clicking the links below:






Arty Maths – Maths Week Scotland – 28 September


It’s Maths Week Scotland next week.

Excited much?????

I’ve always thought about maths and art being connected. Why? Because both disciplines are about noticing and appreciating the world around us.


As human beings we are drawn to things. Sometimes we don’t know why. It’s intuitive or natural. We like something because it has an appeal. In our mind’s eye it is beautiful. Often the reason for our appreciation lies in its order, symmetry, colour, shape even its movement. All of which are basic, natural, mathematical concepts.




Babies, toddlers and young children haven’t yet learned about the properties of shapes or the names of colours, maybe. However, they do naturally distinguish for characteristics in the way they sort or collect things around them.

Matching, sorting and grouping are essential foundational mathematical skills. It is important that we are not tempted to ‘schoolify’ this behaviour too early but rather that we provide children the opportunity to be challenged by objects and watch how they use them.

Back to art. The visual arts (drawing, painting, collage, modelling) are offered everyday in every ELC in the land. But, have you considered the contribution to children’s mathematical thinking that such experiences offer?

I think it is important to think about the visual elements of Art when thinking about the sorts of experiences children should have. When you see the elements, you will quickly recognise the connection with Mathematics.

The visual elements of art are:

  • Line
  • Colour
  • Texture
  • Shape
  • Pattern
  • Form
  • Tone


  • Thinking of your Creation Stations, have you organised the materials in a certain way to help children make choices on the basis of lines or shapes or colours?
  • In this example, materials are organised in colours but also there is thought to strips of papers, so that children can think about lines.


  • Have you thought about giving children different shape of paper to paint or collage on? Think about what children would learn about a triangle if they had to make decisions about what tiny marks they needed to make in the angles?
  • What about different sizes of paper and different painting tools for that size. The mathematical language that will develop will impress and astound you.

3D Modelling

So, 3D modelling is basically a mathematical/STEM experience as well as an arty one!

  • How are the materials organised in your playroom or in the outdoors? Are they all jumbled around? You might want to think about categories to help children make decisions on the basis of shape or colour or function. For example:
    • A box for objects that roll
    • A box for objects that ‘don’t roll’
    • A box for ‘see through’ or transparent objects
    • A box for ‘very small’ objects
    • A box for ‘flat’ objects
    • And on and on and on…….

Clay, Blocks and Wood

Form and pattern are visual elements of art but they are also mathematical concepts that are explored and discovered by children as they design with  clay and blocks and wood. I don’t need to say anymore about this here. Go to our wonderful Froebel in Falkirk menu in the blog for all you need to know.

You will have so many more ideas but hopefully Maths Week Scotland will give the opportunity to notice the maths in the art, to observe closely how children are thinking and behaving mathematically.

I am so excited about #ArtyMaths week in Falkirk. I know that, as always, ELC is going to embrace this opportunity to support children’s progress and to help families understand how their young child’s mathematical brain is developing.

Please do as you always do…..share and tweet. Please tag-in @FCEYTeam @NumHubChamp @FCLisaMcCabe using #ELCArtyMathsWeek #MathsWeekScot
Well done and thank you!


Continue reading Arty Maths – Maths Week Scotland – 28 September

Launch of New Materials for Falkirk’s ELC Teams

It’s the end of another busy week in Falkirk’s ELC settings and this week’s blog post is about some of the many support materials and CLPL opportunities  which were shared with settings this week.

Early Learning Newsletter  published.

The FCEY central team are excited to be publishing the first newletter for Falkirk’s ELC workforce.  Our newsletter contains snapshots from a few of our #FalkirkWonderisers out in ELC settings and Primary 1 classrooms along with latest news, upcoming events and updates from some  of our professional partners.   Watch out for this term’s newsletter coming soon!

Early Learning Professional Learning Brochure

With these words in mind, the Early Learning team were pleased to launch their professional learning brochure detailing their 2020-2021 CLPL programme.  Falkirk ELC and early primary practitioners can use this brochure to view the fantastic range of CLPL on offer to them in Falkirk this year.  Below is a snapshot of the wealth of opportunities on offer.

Staff Handbooks

The FCEY team have been working hard to produce new and updated staff handbooks to support practitioners working in the many varied roles of our ELC workforce.  The first of these, launched this week are:

  • SEYO handbook
  • Staff Induction handbook
  • ELC Assistant Induction handbook
  • Mentor Guidance handbook

Falkirk Council practitioners can access all  handbooks on the Early Learning Sharepoint on Glow using this link.

Marvellous Mealtimes

We began our marvellous mealtimes journey 2 years ago and what an experience it has been! It’s been fabulous to see all of our wee people and #fabfalkirkfolk return to ELC over the last few weeks. It’s also been heartening to see our #MarvellousMealtimesFC approach being implemented across the authority with some fabulous environments and experiences being developed for children.

As expected there have been a variety of different questions and queries around the implementation of marvellous mealtimes in our current circumstances.

It is important, as always, to consider spaces, experiences and interactions when implementing the marvellous mealtimes approach. You can access our updated values here.

While implementing marvellous mealtimes you may wish to consider some of the following points:

  • Does each bubble have their own eating area? Are these areas relaxed, nurturing and homelike?
  • While a full self-service model can’t be operated at this time, do children still have choice in choosing foods and drinks?
  • Do children still have the opportunity to be social during snack and mealtimes, sitting with friends and familiar adults?
  • Has time been taken to consider the experience of snack and mealtimes? As a rich experience children should be able to choose their own plate and cup and use this for lunch. Serving children grab and go bags as they are is not suggested, children should still have the opportunity to use a plate and glass as part of the mealtime routine.
  • Is lunch a staggered experience? Consider having children in smaller groups, rather than everyone eating lunch at the same time. This enables practitioners to spend meaningful time with children at one of the most social times of the day.
  • Cooking and baking are regarded as continuous provision and, where possible, this should continue. The way we provide this experience will have to be adapted and assessed differently across settings. For example children should experience this in small numbers and should have access to their own ingredients and tools.

This is a marvellous mealtime moment from Easter Carmuirs ELC. The space they have developed lends itself to ensuring a warm, welcoming and relaxing space for children. The use of real crockery, cutlery and additions such as flowers demonstrate the quality of the experience and the high value practitioners place upon it. 



Continue to share your marvellous mealtime moments using the #MarvellousMealtimesFC

Please just get in touch with your cluster link if you have any questions regarding marvellous mealtimes!


Online Training Opportunities

Welcome back to all our #FalkirkWonderisers.  We are so proud to see all the amazing play and learning that has been taking place already in our ELC settings and primary schools.  It is wonderful to see all the smiling faces back in our settings.

For those of you looking to continue your development of play pedagogy through high quality CLPL, we wanted to draw your attention to these upcoming training opportunities from Anna Ephgrave and Deirdre Grogan.

*Update June 16th 2020* Supporting Transitions from Home-Early Years-P1 in 2020.

On Monday 8th June over 50 dedicated early learning and childcare and primary practitioners and leaders came together online to discuss transitions.  We aimed to share ideas about creative ways to support our youngest children back into our settings this year; whether they are returning to ELC or starting ELC or Primary 1 for the first time.  They were ably led and supported in this discussion by Jackie Ballantyne from Education Scotland.

To read a summary of the discussion please click here 

Play At Home – Success

Our #PlayAtHome week was a huge success and it’s all thanks to YOU!

The level of contribution from our ELC settings and primary schools was outstanding. On top of that was the way that families enthusiastically took part, sharing their ideas from home.

It was fabulous to see children and families enjoying play experiences. The learning opportunities were endless. We saw lots of baking, treasure hunts, role play ideas, den building, traditional games, and much much more!

Older children joined in too, so it goes to show that it’s play all the way in Falkirk.

We believe that this success is testimony to the dedication and commitment we all have to play-pedagogy and play-based learning. Long may it continue.

**Thank you and well done**

Here’s a wee SWAY montage of your tweets – there’s great ideas, so take some time to take a look.

We also have a wee video montage to share with you.

Take a look at the previous #AtHome weeks too:


Week beginning 20 April – #LiteracyAtHome

Week beginning 27 April – #STEMatHome (**especially good)

Week beginning 4 May – #HWBatHome

This week is #MathsAtHome week – enjoy!

Falkirk Early Years Pedagogues Sharing Sessions


It has been another interesting session for Falkirk Early Years Pedagogues this year. As we all find ourselves in strange times, each and every one of us across Falkirk can be proud of the continued effort of ensuring our wee people and families feel connected and included, albeit from afar.

This year the Early Years Pedagogues and their teams have continued to strive for excellence and equity as they have explored, researched and implemented a variety of different projects which have impacted positively on the learning and development of their wee people and families within their settings and beyond.

Follow this link here to access the Early Years Pedagogue Sharing Session Presentations. A different format to the market stall sharing event we had planned, I am positive you will find these interesting, informative and impactful. We hope you’ll have a few ‘take away’ project ideas to implement in your own setting when the time is right.

We ask that once you have explored the different projects you complete the feedback form to let us know what you thought, to reflect and to tell us what you’d like to see from the Early Years Pedagogues in Falkirk next year. There is a link on the last slide of each presentation or you can access the questionnaire here.

Here is an overview of what you can expect to find in the project sharing sessions:

Elaine Haughton from Carmuirs ELC has explored the impact of retelling stories on children’s confidence and story awareness. Elaine and her team have also explored risk and resilience outdoors, in particular exploring children’s confidence through a variety of experiences. In turn this impacted on parent’s confidence in risky play opportunities. Elaine also explored how children’s subitising skills develop through play and the opportunities that can be provided to enhance this.

Claudette Wright from Beancross ELC explored the impact of children and their families healthy eating habits and how these changed with the addition of a ‘Fruit Barra’ in ELC. Explore how the experiences and provision of fresh fruit impacted on children within and out with ELC. Claudette and her team have also explored a ‘Nurturing Nature’ project- in particular exploring how playing and learning in a local green space impacted on the positive interactions between children and significant adults. The ‘Once Upon a Story Time’ project looks to including children under 3 years of age, in particular siblings from ELC and across the primary school. Explore how this has led Claudette and the team to build positive relationships with children before they attend the ELC setting and the impact these sessions have had on early literacy development.

Donna Green from Nethermains ELC implements a Froebelian practice into the setting, in particular using Block Play as a focus on developing children’s development in measure. Donna began this project during her time at Bainsford ELC. Donna is also Falkirk’s Froebel Lead and showcases how the Froebel family has grew and gone from strength to strength in the last year. Also explore the Big Chef, Little Chef project which encompasses the values of marvellous mealtimes but focuses on a real in-depth family learning approach. Also explore how the local community has supported children in developing their speech and language skills through “an explosion of vocabulary’’.

Louise Harrison from Bowhouse ELC explores the impact that using wordless books has had on children’s speech and language. Louise uses the Forth Valley speech and language pyramid to explore where children are and the impact of using wordless books has had. Louise also showcases her Family Feast project from her time at Easter Carmuirs ELC- again another family learning project which focuses on improving children and families association with healthy eating.

Helena McPhail from Westquarter ELC has had a primary focus on developing regular access to a local green space. Helena’s ‘’Doon the Glen’’ Project explores the importance of establishing parental support in developing remote access to sessions outdoors. Helena also explored the development of the ELC outdoor space and how she involved children, families and the team in the approach.

Yvonne Robinson is assigned to undertake work with our Under 3 children from across Falkirk. As well as this Yvonne will also have responsibility for spreading and scaling Helicopter Stories across the authority from next session. Yvonne’s project focuses on implementing Helicopter Stories during her time in Easter Carmuirs ELC. Explore the practicalities of implementing such an approach and the impact this had on Easter Carmuirs wee people.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome Lisa Boa to the pedagogue team. Lisa joined us in April and will be based within Bainsford ELC. Welcome to Falkirk, Lisa. Lisa has been working on Learning Environments CLPL for the authority. Lisa has been collating tweets around environments and linking this with theory and research to produce a reflective, insightful and in-depth piece of CLPL which I know will support practitioners in thinking forward. This piece of work is still under construction, but fear not, when it’s complete we will be sure to let you know.

If you would like further information you can find each of the pedagogue’s details on the last slide of their sharing session presentation. You can also contact me;

Gemma Paterson (Lead Early Years Pedagogue) at gemma.paterson@falkirk.gov.uk.

Remember you can also use the blog comment section to leave feedback or ask a question.


Introducing #PlayAtHome Week

We want to say a huge **thank you** to our ELC and early learning colleagues and families who have supported our CS Comms #AtHome themed weeks.

So far, there have been three themes:

Week beginning 20 April – #LiteracyAtHome

Week beginning 27 April – #STEMatHome (**especially good)

Week beginning 4 May – #HWBatHome

The level of participation and engagement from settings, individual practitioners working at home when not in hubs, those in Hubs and from our families (with your support) has been simply outstanding.

Our lovely colleague and RAiSE Development Officer, Laura McCafferty, has been collating the tweets, retweets and quote tweets into a wee video. Click on the #AtHome links above to see the video and see yourself on the big screen. These videos are also great for seeing practice elsewhere and getting ideas for helping parents, carers and families support their child’s learning at home.


As well as these videos, you can also search on Twitter by entering the relevant #AtHome AND #JoinInFalkirk. We’ve made it a bit easier by linking these searches below. Click to go straight to the Twitter thread: #LiteracyAtHome #STEMatHome #HWBatHome


The big news of course is that next week (week beginning 11 May) is #PlayAtHome week.
We are so excited about showcasing the fabulous ways we are supporting learning through play and home and in our Hubs.

We know you’ll support and take part, so thank you in advance for all that you will do. We just have one small favour to ask…..remember when replying or quote tweeting (and we want lots of these) please remember to add the hashtags #JoinInFalkirk AND #PlayAtHome

Why? We need both hashtags as this is the search link we’ll use after the week finished to collate the engagement from the week. We would hate for your tweet to be missed, so please don’t forget.

With your continued help and support, #PlayAtHome is going to be a great week. Watch this space for the video collation too.

Remember to leave a reply on our blogs too.