Membership Spotlight – Early Years Scotland

Membership Spotlight highlights the work of our member organisations and outline how other individuals and NGOs can support them. Below we shine the light on Early Years Scotland.

Tell us about the work of your organisation in Scotland (e.g where, type of work, who works for you etc).

Early Years Scotland is Scotland’s leading national specialist organisation that supports our youngest children from pre-birth to 5 years of age. Our fully qualified Early Years Practitioners work directly with children and their families to deliver our unique Stay Play and Learn sessions in a variety of settings. We work in areas where children and families who have the greatest need, will benefit most from our services. As a Third Sector organisation, we have been established for over 55 years. We are very proud of our long track record, supporting all of those who work for, and on behalf of, Scotland’s youngest children. There are four strands to our work:

1.       Working directly with young children and their families

2.       Membership support for ELC settings, students and professionals

3.       Professional Learning Academy

4.       Policy and Advocacy

What projects are you currently working on?

The work we do across the four strands of our organisation is really varied. Our Stay Play and Learn services which are carried out in communities across Scotland offer family-focused learning experiences to encourage and develop family relationships through a play-based approach. Our qualified early years practitioners engage with young children and their parents/carers to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap by strengthening and improving confidence, attachments, interactions, the home learning environment, transitions, shared learning and attainment. We also work in a range of prisons across Scotland facilitating programmes to support children affected by parental imprisonment. The EYS Family Visitor Centre in HMP Low Moss, focuses on providing a welcome and safe environment for children and families, with a strong focus on providing vital family support. Our sessions are carried out across a number of local authorities in Scotland, in both urban and rural areas.

We offer a number of services and membership benefits for professionals who work for, and on behalf of, Scotland’s youngest children. We also support parents to establish, run and improve unregulated groups in local communities.

Engagement with both our members and the children and families we work with also helps to inform our policy work, ensuring that their voices are heard at all levels of policy and decision-making. This unique approach means that we take into account the perspectives of everyone involved in the early learning and childcare sector, which underpins all aspects of the work that we do.

Quality remains at the heart of provision for our youngest children, and we maintain our commitment to offer diverse opportunities for all those dedicated to ELC, including professionals, local authorities, colleges, universities and partners, and parents. Facilitating the creation of collaborative learning communities across the country remains a key priority of the professional learning arm of our work.

How do you support children and families to learn about their rights?

Children’s rights lie at the heart of what we do as an organisation. Our dedicated, qualified early years practitioners embed GIRFEC into their work which, in turn, helps to promote children’s rights within our sessions. Our practitioners also work with families to make them aware of their rights, providing additional support around realisation and, where appropriate/necessary, signposting to other organisations for further assistance.

Our members are also kept up to date with all relevant information around children’s rights, including how to incorporate these into their setting policies, as well as opportunities for professional learning around this topic. We provide support to any members who have specific questions about children’s rights and share examples of best practice to the benefit of the early learning and childcare (ELC) sector overall. 

How can children and young people make their views heard to influence your work?

This is something that we’re very proud of at EYS – the voices of the children that we work directly with, as well as those we work on behalf of (in a wide range of ELC settings throughout the country), are used to influence our work in different ways. We engage regularly with everyone our work impacts on and use the information gathered to inform our conversations with policy and decision-makers and written responses to requests for evidence on any and all issues which are relevant to our youngest children and their families, wider support networks and communities overall. We also use feedback to ensure that the services we provide are meeting the needs of those accessing them.

Does your organisation influence policy development on issues affecting children and young people? If so, please share an example.

EYS is well placed to influence and support Scottish Government, our range of partners, local authorities and our EYS members, through positive, proactive relationships with a wide range of policy and decision-makers and stakeholders. The establishment and fostering of good relations with both those who make the decisions and those upon whom the decisions impact further supports our strategic aim of being the ‘go to’ organisation. Over the past year we have responded to a range of consultations, including the inspection of early learning and childcare and school-age services and the future of education in Scotland. We have also given evidence to the Education, Children and Young People and Finance and Public Administration committees of the Scottish Parliament on the expansion to 1140 hours of funded ELC in Scotland.

What do you enjoy most about being a member of Together?

We really appreciate the work that you do! It’s brilliant to be part of an organisation that is so committed to advancing the rights of children which, in turn, empowers us to be able to talk about, promote and celebrate this. EYS also really welcomes Together’s commitment to ensuring that the voices of our youngest children are heard, something which is integral to the work that we do as an organisation.

How can other organisations or individuals get involved or support your work?

We’d love to see as many organisations and individuals as possible getting involved with EYS – you can follow our various social media channels, which not only provide information about all things early years, but through which we demonstrate what our children and families have been doing within our sessions. As well as memberships for ELC settings, students and professionals, we have also recently launched a parent’s category, which provides access to all of our ‘top tips’, magazines, support and access to our professional learning courses. All information about our membership can be found on our website –

And something a bit silly to end – If your organisation was an animal what would it be and why?

We wouldn’t just be one animal – here at EYS we would definitely be a herd of elephants! We never forget the importance of positive early years experiences, nor do we forget to remember our vital role in supporting this. We are a strong team, which looks after and protects the interests we work with, just like a herd of elephants does. Elephants always keep one foot on the ground, and we like to think we also do this metaphorically by bringing everything back to the children and families we work with – they keep us grounded and remind us every day why we do what we do! We are compassionate and caring, strong but gentle, much like elephants. A herd of elephants has a range of personalities and strengths, who will work together to overcome obstacles, barriers and threats for the protection and safety of our youngest children. Just like Team EYS!

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