Last Updated: Friday, June 25, 2021

A summary of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) resources

What is this?

​​​​​This page provides a summary of key information, policy, resources, and exemplification relating to early learning and childcare (ELC)​.​

Who is this for?

​This page aims to support all ELC practitioners, leaders and policy makers with an interest in, or responsibility for, early learning and childcare.

How to use this page to improve practice?

When using this page, please consider the following reflective questions:

  • What is my understanding of the current ELC policy and guidance landscape?
  • How do I use self-evaluation, research and evidence to inform and improve my practice?

Self-evaluation approach

  • How good is our early learning and childcare? (2016) provides a suite of quality indicators. These support staff to look inwards; to scrutinise their work and evaluate what is working well for babies, toddlers and young children, and what could be better. The framework is designed to be used to support self-evaluation for self-improvement by practitioners at all levels.

Key documents

  • The Early Years Framework (2008) sets out a vision for early years services in Scotland to ensure that children get ‘the best start in life’.
  • Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) builds on the solid foundations developed in the critical years pre-birth to three. Within CfE, children are entitled to a broad general education from age three until the end of S3. The early level of CfE for most children spans the period of time from age three until the end of Primary 1. It supports a smooth transition in learning between ELC and primary school.
  • Realising the Ambition: Being Me (2020) is the new national practice guidance for early years in Scotland. It builds upon the original principles and philosophy of Pre-Birth to 3 and Building the Ambition. It covers children’s learning and development from birth into the early years of primary school.

Supporting ELC during Covid-19

We know that the pandemic has impacted young children in different ways. To help early learning and childcare practitioners support young children’s wellbeing and development the Scottish Government has created a handy list of some available resources:

PDF file: Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young children - Resources and training to support ELC Practitioners - April 2021 (237 KB)

Education Scotland has curated into a single list the support that is available to educators in all sectors, on remote learning from national organisations. The following links may be particularly helpful to those working with young children and their families ELC during the Covid-19 pandemic:

e-Sgoil Covid-19 Support – Being Me with Dug

Dug’s Discovery Den has been developed by e-Sgoil in partnership with Education Scotland to offer young children an interactive collection of clicks to inspire further learning and exploration beyond the screen.

Scotland Learns - A range of ideas and suggestions of activities, for the early level and beyond, to help parents, carers and practitioners support learning at home.

ELC Wakelet - Support for cross-curricular learning at home

Being Me – the CaFTeam Wakelet - The Children and Families Team Wakelet provides support in areas such as transitions, returning to settings and adversity and trauma informed practice.

What Scotland Learned - A collection of inspiring stories about how practitioners across Scotland have responded during the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Education Recovery - A single point of access to guidance and support for COVID-19 recovery.

Digilearn.scot - Providing a range of strategies, tools and guidance to support learning at home.

Parentzone Scotland - Education Scotland’s website for parents with information about education and learning in Scotland.

Parent Club - Scottish Government’s website for parents provides a range of helpful suggestions and advice

Practical support and resources on the National Improvement Hub

Resources on the National Improvement Hub (NIH) are tagged by subject. This includes an ELC subject tag. Searching live on the NIH ensures you are checking the most up-to-date list of ELC resources. The following resources on the NIH may be of interest to ELC practitioners and leaders.

Curricular approaches

Creativity infographics
Development of creativity through play at Ballogie Nursery
Permission to be creative - Brian Boyd
Science across the school - early level at Strathallan Primary
STEM practice at Sunflower Family Nurture Centre

Inclusion and equality

Improving gender balance 3-18

Gaelic Medium Education

Advice on Gaelic Education
Advice on Total Immersion and ELC
Expansion of free learning and childcare, 1140 hours and GME Foundation Apprenticeships for childcare - Improving the Gaelic Medium Curriculum
Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education, 2012-2016
Blog accompanying Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education, 2012-2016
A’ cur taic ris an Ìre Thràth ann am Foghlam Tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig / Supporting the Early Years in Gaelic Medium Education
Briefings on Gaelic Education/Fiosrachadh mun Ghàidhlig
Gaelic Medium Education 3-18 - A case study from Sir E Scott School
Dè cho math 's a tha ar tràth-ionnsachadh agus curam chloinne? / How good is our early learning and childcare?

Health and wellbeing

Developing nurturing relationships in Early Years in Dundee

Language and literacy development

Talking, listening and questions

Leadership

How Woodside Nursery School has developed partnerships to support children’s learning
Pedagogical Leadership in Early Learning and Childcare

Learning environments

Being Me Through Block Play - the significance of block play in children's early learning and development and how we can best support it in practice.

Development of creativity through play at Ballogie Nursery
Effective environments to promote learning for children aged zero to five
Inspiring environments for high-quality learning

Observation, planning and assessment

Children's learning journeys at Monkton Primary School Nursery Class
Effective observation leading to effective assessment
Planning learning at Auchlone Nature Kindergarten

Outdoor learning

Get the Bairns Oot! An outdoor kindergarten in Norway
Managing Risk in Outdoor Learning
Planning learning at Auchlone Nature Kindergarten
Playtime Revolution – a resource from Grounds for Learning
Forest Kindergarten Approach – Learning Outdoors With Confidence

Parental engagement and family learning

Engaging parents and families - A toolkit for practitioners
What is Family Learning?
Family learning framework
Review of family learning
Good Practice in working with deaf learners, their parents and families - British Sign Language (BSL) Plan
How staff involve parents in their children’s learning - Ladybird Nursery School
Information for parents / Fios
Engaging families in supporting their child’s learning - Mearns Primary School – East Renfrewshire Council
Evidencing change in fathers participating family learning groups
How staff involve parents in their children’s learning - Ladybird Nursery School
Learning at home with science boxes - West Kilbride Primary School
Using ‘App’ technology to improve parental engagement in Dundee

Pedagogy

Early Level Play Pedagogy Toolkit
Children's learning journeys at Monkton Primary School Nursery Class
Creativity - Dylan Wiliam
Development of creativity through play at Ballogie Nursery
Pedagogical Leadership in Early Learning and Childcare
Playtime Revolution – a resource from Grounds for Learning
Schematic play - Taking a closer look
Talking, listening and question
The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Years Education

Play

Early Level Play Pedagogy Toolkit
Development of creativity through play at Ballogie Nursery
Pedagogical Leadership in Early Learning and Childcare
Playtime Revolution – a resource from Grounds for Learning
Schematic play - Taking a closer look

Practice exemplars

Building the Ambition at Cowgate Under 5s Centre
Children's learning journeys at Monkton Primary School Nursery Class
Cowcaddens Nursery - eTwinning Project Report
Developing nurturing relationships in Early Years in Dundee
Effective environments to promote learning for children aged zero to five
Evidencing change in fathers participating family learning groups
How staff involve parents in their children’s learning - Ladybird Nursery School
How Woodside Nursery School has developed partnerships to support children’s learning
Learning at home with science boxes - West Kilbride Primary School
Science across the school - early level at Strathallan Primary

Scottish attainment challenge

Early Learning and Childcare and the Scottish Attainment Challenge

Transitions

Scottish Early Childhood and Families National Transitions Statement
Cadder Primary School early years transition project
The Lighthouse Keeper joint transition project
Using play based learning to support transition from ELC to Primary 1