Renfrewshire Council

1140 nursery children painting

Blog: Speech champion role helped me learn essential leadership skills

Moira Hope has worked as a Senior Early Learning and Childcare Officer (ELCO) in West Johnstone Early Learning and Childcare Centre (ELCC) for nearly 18 months.

I started working at West Johnstone ELCC about 18 years ago and I love it. Our centre takes children from six weeks to six years-old, so there is quite a variety of learning experiences and care needed to support the young children and their families who attend.

When I was newly-qualified and first started my job, the role was known as nursery nurse, so I've seen how the role has evolved and the changes in the profession since those days. I love that you can make a positive impact on the lives of our children and their families and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Since becoming a Senior ELCO, I see myself as a role-model for staff to support children's learning and have leadership responsibilities to support my managers in the day-to-day running of the centre. I help staff to share their skills with their colleagues and organise training in the centre.

I think taking on leadership responsibility before I applied for a promoted post helped me develop my skills and learn more about supporting staff. I took on a role of communication champion a few years back (October 2016) that focused on improving speech, language and communication development and upskilling staff within my centre. Along with my colleagues, we worked hard to ensure our environment was rich in speech and language opportunities.

We also offer Forest Kindergarten, with children spending a day in the woods for six weeks at a time. They learn about nature, how to be safe outside and develop and improve upon skills, but more importantly it gives children time to express themselves and develop their speech and language in a different environment.

Every day is different in our centre and since we began piloting 1140 hours of early learning and childcare, we've seen a positive impact on children's learning. We've made sure there is plenty of meaningful and interactive play, opportunities to be sociable as well as quiet spaces for when kids just want to rest and chill out. Every child is different and it's important we have the right environment to support everyone.

Engaging with families and our local community is essential for us. Our families are involved in planning their child's learning as well as having time to come in and just talk with someone if they need to. It's about being there for the whole family so that we can support the child.

I recently started doing my degree, BA in Childhood Practice, at Glasgow University and I'm supported both financially and in terms of getting time off to attend lectures and courses. Training on-the-job is a significant benefit of being in this sector of work and essential to my professional development.

If you have an interest in growing young minds and want to get into this field, you can learn on-the-job like I did and build up your qualifications as you go.

Jobs in Renfrewshire

Want to join our Early Learning and Childcare team? We're recruiting for various roles within our nurseries now! Check MyJobScotland and apply by Sunday 19 January 2020.

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Check out what our Early Years staff have to say about working for us.