Developing The Early Years Workforce

This event will reflect on the changes introduced since the publication of the Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) Workforce and Out of School Care (OSC) Workforce in April 2015 and share some of the excellent practice already in place to support Scotland’s early years workforce. In doing so we will also debate how we can balance the different priorities placed on early years delivery.


In her Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare Workforce and Out of School Care Workforce, Professor Iram Siraj noted:

“There is evidence that improved training and higher qualifications benefit the workforce, and that a more developed workforce improves children’s experiences and developmental processes and in the long term this benefits the economy […] The workforce must be ‘fit-for-purpose’; and its purpose is to improve children’s wellbeing and learning outcomes, and to support parents and communities in raising their children as well as providing time to study or work.”

Since the publication of the review a range of actions have taken place, yet quality and availability of childcare has continued to dominate discussions on the early years.

Key learning points:

  • Hear about progress so far on the recommendations of the Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare Workforce and Out of School Care Workforce
  • Discuss how we can promote leadership in the early years
  • Discover good practice on developing and training new and existing staff
  • Debate how the early years sector can balance the different priorities of supporting workplace equality; improving learning and attainment; and, enhancing child wellbeing



09:15    Registration opens

09:55    Introduction from the Chair

Tom Freeman, Journalist, Holyrood magazine

Session 1: Facing the challenge

In this opening session we will look back at the recommendations of the Independent Review of childcare and explore progress so far. In doing so we will consider the next steps for supporting the early years workforce.

10:00  New Understandings of Workforce Development

  • Overview of the strengths of the Scottish workforce reform
  • Some of the existing challenges
  • New research on strengthening workforce

Professor Iram Siraj, Professor of Early Childhood Education, University College London and chair, the Independent Review on the Early Learning and Childcare Workforce and Out of School Care Workforce

10:20    Early Learning and Childcare Skill Investment Plan: Prospectus

Present skills evidence base for the Early Learning and Childcare sector and skills challenges and priorities. 

Chris Brodie, Lead Head of Sector Development, Skills Development Scotland​

10:40    Questions and discussion

10:50    Blueprint for 2020: Next Steps for the ELC Workforce

  • Update on Scottish Government priorities for the expansion of entitlement to funded early learning and childcare to 1140 hours by 2020
  • Focus on 2017-18 Blueprint Action Plan, published in March, and in particular what this means for the ELC workforce in Scotland​

Alison Cumming, Programme Director – Early Learning and Childcare, Scottish Government​

11:10    Refreshments and networking

Session 2: Building skills in the early years workforce

The diverse and disparate nature of the workforce has resulted in major differences in work environments, qualifications, and recruitment, retention and staff progression routes. This has led to innovative approaches being adopted across the country. This session will look at just a few of the national and local training opportunities on offer.

11:25   Additional Graduates in Early Years: Maximising Potential

  • Meeting the commitment
  • Glasgow’s approach
  • Challenges, opportunities and impact

Heather Douglas, Early Years Manager, Glasgow City Council and member of the Early Learning Childcare Trials Team

11:45    The Froebel Approach to Early Education

This presentation will explore the work of early years pioneer Friedrich Froebel and share with the audience the impact of Froebel’s principles in practice today. It will also share the transformational learning from the Froebel in Childhood Practice courses running in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and from August, Midlothian. It will also highlight that after the course the learning continues in the form of master classes, seminars and annual conferences. ​

Professor John M Davis, Professor for Childhood Inclusion, University of Edinburgh 

Dr Lynn McNair OBE, Director, Froebel CPD, University of Edinburgh and Head of Centre, Cowgate Under 5’s in Edinburgh

12:05    Developing the Childminding Workforce

  • Role of childminders within ELC
  • Overview of the childminding learning pathway
  • Next steps

Catherine Agnew, Chief Inspector – Children’s Services, Care Inspectorate

Tracey Joyce, Project Lead for the Learning & Development Pathway for Childminders, Care Inspectorate

12:25 #Openingdoors - A pathway Into Childcare

#Openingdoors is an innovative approach to developing our young workforce in the childcare sector.

  • Introduction to the project
  • Purpose of the pathway and the role of the MSO by Kirsty Hunter
  • ‘Our story’ – by Hayley Abell and Zoe Lumsden
  • The experience of a Modern Apprentice by Rebecca Smart.​

Jaci Douglas, Chief Executive Officer

Rebecca Smart, Modern Apprentice and Youth Ambassador, Care and Learning Alliance

12:40    Questions and discussion

13:00    Lunch and networking

Session 3: Delivering Early Years: balancing workplace equality, learning and wellbeing

The debate continues on the balance of quality and quality in early years provision in the context of the different demands facing the sector. These tensions are particularly acute at time of constrained finances. In this final session we will consider how the early years workforce can work together to deliver the best possible care for children in the current climate.

13:50    Opening remarks from the panellists

14:15    Panel discussion

  • Balancing quality and quantity as childcare entitlement expands
  • The balance of formal and informal learning in the early years
  • Early years provision and parents in work
  • Teachers in the early years

Panellists include:

  • Sue Palmer, Chair, Upstart Scotland
  • Dr. Cara Blaisdell, Lecturer in Early Years Education, University of Strathclyde 
  • Eleanor Coner, Partnership Development Officer, Scottish Parent Teacher Council
  • Margaret Smith, President, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • Claire Schofield, Director of Membership, Policy and Communications, National Day Nurseries Association​

15:15    Closing remarks from the chair

15:20    Close of event

*Agenda subject to change


Venue and Costs


Delegate Rates (excluding VAT): The Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE

  • Discounted rate: £145 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 | 2+ places £195 (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 | 2+ places £245 (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email or phone 0131 285 1635


27 June 2017
United Kingdom



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