Gemma Paterson, Equity and Excellence Lead, Grangemouth

Gemma Paterson

Equity and Excellence Lead, Grangemouth

The Scottish Government recently created a new role in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) to help ensure we close the attainment gap between our least and most disadvantaged children. The post has been nationally named as the “Equity and Excellence Leads”. Whilst there is local variation in the role, this name reflects their universal focus on supporting equity and excellence in their area. Previously the post was referred to as “additional graduate” and some authorities have chosen their own individual local names. Gemma Paterson is an Equity and Excellence Lead in Grangemouth:

“I gained my BA Childhood Practice in 2017 from the University of Dundee after completing two years at The University of Edinburgh. I moved to distance learning in Dundee as it suited my working pattern. As evidenced in my case, there are flexible working options available and the Equity and Excellence role is open to candidates who are working towards their degree. My experience of the course was exceptional, and I was led by a very supportive team.

“I’ve been in the role of Equity and Excellence Lead in Falkirk (called Early Years Pedagogue locally) since August 2018. My role is focused on supporting the least advantaged children. I was fortunate that the position became available in the school I was working in at the time but was advised I had the opportunity to move to a different setting if this was more suitable.

From previously 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.

“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.

“I am extremely lucky to work with an amazing team of enthusiastic and committed practitioners and we work collaboratively to ensure our wee people’s early experiences are of the highest quality. I am currently leading on a variety of initiatives involving health and wellbeing, and mealtimes and learning. I get immense job satisfaction seeing the children and staff thrive because of initiatives I’ve helped to implement.

“Each day is different; some are spent working with practitioners on projects such as ‘Marvellous Mealtimes’ – developing a mealtime approach where children can eat in a relaxed atmosphere – and on other days I can be sharing knowledge and experiences at leadership events or hosting other colleagues at our setting.

“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 which allow me to experience my favourite part of the role; 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.

“The Equity Lead role is empowering and encourages me to think outside the box to improve the lives of children from the outset. 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 the 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 opportunities I’ve had to build relationships with the children I work with are endless. As Equity Leads, by implementing a variety of approaches to encourage the least advantaged children to thrive, we have a real chance to improve practice to ensure the needs of all the children are met.

“The role allows me to be innovative, take chances and empower my colleagues; all factors that will help close the attainment gap. While the prospect can sometimes be daunting, there is support available within local authorities. You will not regret this step; the experience is invaluable!”

ELC Stories

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Equity and Excellence Leads


The Scottish Government recently created a new role in ELC to help ensure we close the attainment gap.

Gemma Paterson, Equity and Excellence Lead, Grangemouth


"I get immense job satisfaction seeing the children and staff thrive because of initiatives I’ve helped to implement."

Kyle Izatt, Early Years Practitioner, Fife Council


"I have always been a creative individual and I’m lucky to get many opportunities to use my creativity at work."