It all begins with the heart

by Eleanor Smith, Service Manager, Strathisla Children’s Centre in Keith

Finding the right candidate for your early years setting can be challenging. Scrolling through the applications, we strive to glimpse the person behind the words. Considering their experience and qualifications, we also contemplate what they can bring to the team. We select and begin the interview process.

A highly motivated, dedicated practitioner will be eager to gain the theory and knowledge needed to inform their practice. Qualifications can easily be accessed to give a practitioner the required knowledge. Daily support and training can build the skills, but we cannot teach a caring heart, a nurturing soul, and an understanding and patient nature. These attributes are essential in supporting our children in the most critical years of their lives.

“The sense of being loved and cherished that children need from us in order to feel safe and cared for and to be able to explore and create for themselves”

Realising the Ambition

In today’s society, families face mental health challenges, poverty, and sometimes seclusion. Supporting diversity and inclusion is paramount in an early years setting, therefore, we must consider practitioners’ personal and professional values. The role of a practitioner encompasses a broad range of skills. Families need as much support as the children. Offering a listening ear, a guide to the correct professionals, time, and understanding to a parent will positively impact the child.

 “Children’s care and learning routines should be individual to their needs and delivered with kindness and compassion.”

Growing my Potential

Each member of the Strathisla team was chosen for their kindness, heart, sense of humour, dedication, and motivation to make a difference in children’s lives. I have thirteen amazing colleagues, most beginning their journey as unqualified practitioners. Eight of my colleagues have completed their qualifications whilst being with the charity, another has just begun her SVQ 3, and two have now begun their BA in childhood practice. For others, they continually update their knowledge and understanding through training and courses provided by FCSS who invest in building skills across all early educators, offering varied opportunities for continuous professional development. Furthermore, we have qualified practitioners who are now keen to move forward in advanced qualification, showing their dedication to continually evolve. As practitioners have gained their qualifications in the setting, they have used their skills and knowledge to enhance the learning environment and create further learning opportunities for our children. Below are a few quotes from the team about their qualifications.

“I wanted to do better, and understand the theory behind my practice, my qualification will expand my knowledge and help me to support the children in their learning, I also am ambitious to continually grow within FCSS.

Since completing my qualification and completing various training opportunities in the setting, my confidence has grown. I feel I support the children’s learning and development better and understand the why behind my practice.

“I enjoyed the learning during my training, and can now link the learning with what I do everyday.”

“Delivering a high quality early learning experience for children requires a dedicated, skilled and well-qualified workforce.”

Scottish Government

This is a celebration of the wonderful team at Strathisla Children’s Centre, and the kindness, love, and support they provide to the children and families every day. Their motivation for extending their knowledge and experience is second to none. Their eagerness, to develop their practice to ensure every child has the best start in life is inspiring. The road is never easy, there have been ups and downs along the way, but as a team, we have pulled together to support, guide, love, understand, and listen to each other, and I am grateful for every colleague in the team.

A great practitioner does not begin with a certificate, a great practitioner begins with a heart.