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Children and young people

Gemma Paterson

My name is Gemma Paterson. I work in early learning and childcare in Grangemouth as an equity and excellence lead. My role is for experienced practitioners with a degree level qualification in childcare. It was created by Scottish Government and focuses on closing the attainment gap between our least and most disadvantaged children.

I’ve been in this role since August 2018. I was fortunate that the position became available in the school in Falkirk I was working in at the time as a lead practitioner.

From my time working as a lead practitioner, I have always strived to do my very best for the children. The equity and excellence lead post enables me to take this to another level by using research and improvement science to capture and develop areas of high quality practice. It’s these initiatives and policies that can really impact our wee people, ensuring they have the best start in life.

Part of the reason I was attracted to the post was the ability to interact with the children daily. My role includes facilitating high quality play, developing personal interests and introducing health and wellbeing approaches. All of this allows me to experience my favourite part of the role which is seeing each child’s creativity shine in their own unique way. I enjoy working with children and their families to develop trusting and respectful relationships to create a platform to help address the attainment gap.

I am extremely lucky to work with an amazing team of enthusiastic and committed practitioners and we work collaboratively to make sure our wee people’s early experiences are of the highest quality. Each day is different. Some are spent working with practitioners on projects such as ‘Marvellous Mealtimes’ which involves developing a mealtime approach where children can eat in a relaxed atmosphere. On other days I can be sharing knowledge and experiences at leadership events or hosting other colleagues at our setting.

I gained my BA Childhood Practice in 2017 from the University of Dundee. They offer distance learning which suited my working pattern. As shown in my case, there are flexible working options available and my role is also open to people who are working towards their degree. My experience of the course was exceptional and I was led by a very supportive team.

As part of the role, I’ve undertaken the Scottish Coaching Leadership and Improvement Programme (SCLIP). The course provided insight on improvement science, specifically how this could be applied to research within my setting and covers a range of topics such as data analysis, coaching teams and developing leadership methodology, all of which I use every day. As we implement improvement science, it’s important we are creative with our approaches and remember each child has different needs.

My role is empowering and encourages me to think outside the box to improve the lives of children. As the role is new and evolving, we have the freedom to tailor and develop it to the needs of each setting. It’s the perfect post for those who believe all children deserve the very best start in life.

To anyone considering applying for an equity and excellence lead post I would say absolutely go for it. Personally, the creation of this post has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

The role allows me to be innovative, take chances and empower my colleagues. All of these factors will help close the attainment gap. While the responsibilities can sometimes be daunting, there is support available in local authorities.

You will not regret this step. The experience is invaluable!

Gemma in front of a bookcase.

My role is empowering and encourages me to think outside the box to improve the lives of children.

Gemma Paterson Equity and excellence lead

Learn more about the role of equity and excellence lead in this video by the Scottish Government

Closed Caption subtitles can be switched on by clicking on the 'cc' button on the video.