All posts by Gemma Paterson

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!


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

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


Realising the Ambition and Marvellous Mealtimes CLPL

Realising the Ambition

Realising the Ambition support materials are now available on Glow! These materials have been adapted from the Education Scotland challenge questions that sit alongside Realising the Ambition. These materials have been developed to enable reflection, challenge and facilitation in developing your practice and approaches within your setting.

We’d advise that these materials are better focused on, one section at a time, preferably as a whole team. Professional discussion, challenge and debate will enhance your already in-depth thinking from the reflective activities. Focusing on these as a team ensures there is depth to your reflections and in turn meaningful adaptions can take place in looking forward.

You will see a join code on the beginning of each title slide, inviting you to join the Realising the Ambition in Falkirk Team. We hope to use this as a platform to share and learn from others. On Friday, 1st May, we are holding two live chats on Section 3 from 10.30am-11.30am and Section 4 from 1.30pm-2.30pm. You might find it useful to explore these sections in the support materials to reflect on what you have read.


Please note- you can access these materials and receive the join code for the team here .

Marvellous Mealtimes


Marvellous Mealtimes CLPL materials are also now available on Glow! Explore how Marvellous Mealtimes has developed over the last two years and discover the key components of a high quality approach to snack and mealtimes.

We also have a Bonnypark ELCC case study, showcasing the approach in their setting. There is also a join code for you to join the Marvellous Mealtimes in Falkirk Team, again to share practice and explore the approach. Here you will find Marvellous Mealtimes Book 2. The second book explores where we are now and how the approach has developed. There are also case studies of the approach from a variety of settings across Falkirk.

Be sure to complete the Remote CLPL Evaluation and send it to

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


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?