Sorcha Wheelan, Early Years Develpment Officer, Edinburgh.
“The children are like sponges, soaking up what they hear without being self-conscious or worried about mistakes. They hear new sounds every day, so what makes Gaelic any different to the norm. It never ceases to amaze me how receptive they are towards the language, and the play opportunities around them.”
1. Why have you chosen to work in a career in Gaelic early years?
My early years career started after I had my own children, it is not something I had thought about before. I love the work that I do, with children and also with their families and I have realised that so many opportunities are out there to further my career.
2. Have you always worked in social services?
Initially I had a role leading Gaelic Playgroups in Edinburgh and then moved on to nursery work. I realised at this point that I would like a career in Early Years and so completed my SVQ before becoming Early Years Lead Practitioner for the setting. After about a year the opportunity arose to apply to become a GME Early Years Development officer for Edinburgh Council.
3. Tell us more about your job?
I am currently working under the Quality Improvements Team for Edinburgh Council. I work closely with all GME Early Years Settings in Edinburgh as well as families and in the community.
As my role is new I that opportunity to make a difference is huge. From supporting settings and staff in furthering their knowledge/training to supporting families with Gaelic in the home, the impact could be huge. Partnership work and bringing settings/families together will benefit all of the children involved in GME.
4. What inspires you in your job?
In my day to day work the children inspire me. They are at such a great age to engage with and learn. It never ceases to amaze me how receptive they are towards the language, and the play opportunities around them. Also the opportunity for change and to make a difference to the families that I work alongside also inspires me and I take a lot of my ideas from them.
5. What are the best bits about your job?
I love spending time with children, and with staff. There is nothing more rewarding than supporting children with their ideas and wishes and seeing the positive outcomes for them, as groups and individuals.
6. How do you support the children in learning Gàidhlig?
Repeat, repeat, repeat. It is very important to be clear and repetitive when speaking to such young learners. And song of course. I find that most children (and parents/carers) pick up the language primarily through song in the early stages. The parents often take more time to try and use the language, so ensuring that they have ample opportunity to hear Gaelic in a gentle and informal manner is vital.
7. In what way is you job rewarding?
Hearing the children when they start to use the language is always lovely, and very much recognised by the staff around me too. Knowing that I have supported parents on the start of their journey into nursery/school and have helped them understand the pathways is very rewarding. Also supporting settings in their development and helping them to achieve the levels of quality care that they want.
8. What skills & qualities are needed to do your job?
Knowledge of child development is essential in a role like mine, as well as a desire to work with children and their families. Patience, enthusiasm and creativity are also important.
9. Has the job opened new opportunities for you?
I came into this job thinking that it would suit me at that stage of life. Here I am 9 years later in a role that I love.
As my new role as GME Early Years Development officer, has just started, I haven’t given too much thought to what’s next, but I welcome any opportunity to further my learning and in turn my career. There are lots of opportunities opening up and lots of room for growth. It’s an exciting time to join the expanding workforce, and to make a real difference to children and families in your area.
10. What would you say to someone who was thinking of working in the Gaelic Early years sector?
A career in Gaelic Early Years is very rewarding and can lead you places that you down paths that you didn’t even know existed. Early Years isn’t just about children in a nursery setting. It encompasses all children from Birth until their early school years, and sometimes beyond when community and family engagement is in place.
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