Freshly Squeezed is an Iriss podcast which aims to 'squeeze' information and inspiration from key influencers in social services in Scotland.
Michelle Drumm speaks to Emma Scott, who was the winner of the Bright Spark Award at the Scottish Social Services Awards in 2018. This award aims to recognise a young person who is excelling in the work they do in the sector.
Since leaving high school in 2014, Emma began an apprenticeship at Peartree Nursery in East Lothian. She has gained an SVQ Level 3 and has lots of hands-on experience with children of different ages and situations.
MD - Michelle Drumm
ES - Emma Scott
MD Hello and welcome to Freshly Squeezed, an Iriss podcast which aims to squeeze information and inspiration from key influencers in social services in Scotland. Today I am speaking to Emma Scott. In June of this year Emma won the Bright Spark award at the Scottish Social Services Awards. This award aims to recognise a young person who is excelling in the work they do in the sector. Since leaving high school in 2014 Emma began an apprenticeship at Peartree Nursery in East Lothian. She has gained an SVQ level 3 and has lots of hands on experience with children of different ages and situations. During her 1st year at the nursery she achieved the nursery Newcomer of the Year Award, which she says herself, was thrilled and grateful to be nominated for. Emma, welcome to Freshly Squeezed, I would just like to say congratulations to you on your awards so far.
ES Thank you.
MD It's quite an achievement at such an early stage in your career. You are not too long working in social services, but is it a sector that you always wanted to work in?
ES Yes. I remember when I first applied for the job we were in, I was in a class where they were making us do loads of different work experience and we were to go on the computers and search for different jobs and I only every searched for nursery ones. Then I saw the one at Peartree come up and I just thought, I'll just do it, I won't get it, but I'll try. Then I got it, I got an interview, I had a working interview and then I literally had my last exam and started on the Monday. So, I just did it straight away, so it was fast. I think it's all been really fast, I'm quite, all of it is really overwhelming, all the awards and everything as well.
MD Yeh, fantastic. What was it about yourself that you thought, yeh, I want to do this work, I want to work in social services?
ES Well I have an older sister and she had kids, and I was still quite young, I was in primary 7 when the first, my nephew was born, and I think since then I have just loved kids. So, I looked after my niece and nephew and my little cousin all the time, just to help out over summer and stuff, and then I did work experience in a private nursery in Haddington and then at the school I was at, Knox Academy, they had a little nursery inside that we could volunteer in, so I did that as well. So, I think I just, kind of, always knew. I knew I wouldn't ever be somebody that sat at a table and worked in an office, because at school I couldn't concentrate, I always wanted more practical. So, I think I have always known, and my sister works in a nursery, so she would always come home and tell me how good it was, and I think that also spurred me on to be like, yeh, that's what I want to do, kind of thing, because I wanted to be a midwife, but I couldn't deal with the...
MD Oh right, so that's initially what you wanted to do?
ES That's initially what I thought, I'll do this. Since I was at school I always said I would be a midwife and then it wasn't until I got to about S3, I think I realised, no, I want to work with kids and be hands on and teach them loads of different things and everything, so I think that's when I realised. I have always really known it would be kids.
MD And so, the Peartree Nursery is your first role, is it?
ES Yeh it was the first, so I left, I literally left school and went straight to there as an apprenticeship in the baby room and that's where it all started.
MD In terms of your motivation then, you obviously, like you say you like working with people, you don't want to be sitting at a desk all day. What is it that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
ES It's the children. Totally, just watching them flourish and develop and grow and everything, and like, the opportunities we give them, I just think it makes me want to go to work, whereas, if I was at a desk I would be like, oh, paperwork. If I get any time in the office I am thinking about what I could be doing with the kids, rather than actually focusing on paperwork itself. It's all about the kids for me.
MD And do you think you've got a bit too much paperwork, sometimes, to do?
ES Sometimes. It is hard, but you have to have that balance, don't know? Whereas, I try and give some of the team the time in the office to get their observations and everything on, because obviously we do, we take pictures all the time and have online journals for all the kids, so we have to keep them up to date all the time, so whenever we get time in the office that's what we should be doing, but then I am usually looking at other stuff. Searching ideas and trying to change the room and everything, rather than doing the paperwork side of it, because I get too distracted by the kids. Where our office is, my room is right next to it, so you can hear them shouting on you and I think, oh, I just need to be back in there.
MD What kind of age groups of children are you working with?
ES 2-3 years at the minute. I was in the baby room, which is 0-2, for 3 years. I started the apprenticeship and then I qualified and won the Newcomer of the Year, I won that twice. It was once was for the NMT's and then for Nursery World, so one was for Scotland and one was for everywhere, basically, so I won that and then I worked alongside the room supervisor, because she became deputy manager, so she needed support, basically, so I did that but then the role became available downstairs, so I just went for it. I felt I needed a change, because it's good with babies, I do enjoy it, but you get more interaction out of the older ones, like, yeh I love it, I do really love the 2-3s.
MD Great. So, what does a typical day look like for you?
ES Every day is so different. We have the basic routine, but everyday we are doing different activities, obviously the kids are different every day, so you are getting different interaction from each child every day, you are meeting different families. We will have show around days here, we will have different care plans, so every day is totally different, but yeh, we have breakfast together, then we do little songs and stories, which they love, they sit so well. They have their favourite books, like The Bear Hunt and stuff, which we have to, they absolutely love that, so we do that all the time, and then we are outside a lot. We usually go outside just after breakfast and do different things outside, and just on Friday we got guinea pigs, so that's the best thing in the world right now, I am quite gutted I'm not there to see them today. We saw them on Friday, Friday they were absolutely loving it, so we got guinea pigs. So, we just do different things outside all the time, like forest schools, we also go to different care homes as well, so that's lovely. We do that every fortnight.
MD Uh huh, it's a real mix of fun and then learning also.
ES Yes, definitely, definitely. I think because, obviously I am 2-3 supervisor, but there is Charlotte who is 3-5, so we are in the same garden, so we do a lot of activities that we have to adapt to each age to make sure it suits, but all the kids just get involved together, it's lovely, it's really good.
MD Do you have a moto for life?
ES I just live every day as it comes really, because every day is so different for me, em, yeh I just live every day as it comes, kind of thing.
ES I think because I am so young, I just, I feel really overwhelmed with everything that's happening because so much has happened at once with all the different awards and everything that just like, because everyone says, amazing, well done, and I am like, I don't know what I have done. You know, it's hard to take it all in.
MD Well you are just, sort of, doing what you do, what your passion is?
ES Yeh, I don't feel like I am doing anything amazing, but with all the awards and everybody constantly being like, well done, amazing, I am like, oh yeh.
MD Well it sounds like, you know, you do go out of your way, as you said earlier, to look up activities and...
ES I am there till stupid o'clock every night as well. My mum is always like, why are you not home yet? I am like, I will be home soon. Then at the weekend I am always searching stuff, Pinterest is my bible, I get loads of different stuff off of there and then I am on, I don't so much read books, it's more online that I see it all. So, like different Facebook groups have got loads of different activities, different ideas. So, then I get the girls from my room, I get them to go onto it, so we are all constantly looking up different activities as well.
MD That was my next question, do you have a book of blog that you would recommend?
ES Yeh, Pinterest is the best thing, best thing ever. You can get anything on it. It is literally my bible.
MD Is Pinterest the one that is picture based, is it?
ES Pretty much, yeh. You can get loads of different things from it, but then as well there are Facebook groups everywhere with different ideas, like there are different Frobo ones, everything like that, it's really good. I'm more online than I am sitting reading a book, kind of thing.
MD Right, yeh. I think younger people are.
ES I think because I am so used to being on my phone that's why.
MD Yeh. Do you network with other nursery workers through these networks and Facebook groups, or is it most just friends you have there?
ES There are a few people I know that work in other nurseries so I do get things from them, but a lot of the groups that I am on, some of it is parent run or just people who are doing little playgroups and stuff, so it's all different kinds of sectors, so it's not just the one set nursery kind of thing, so yeh, and obviously my sister, she works in a council nursery, whereas, we are privately run so we compare the 2 to see how different it is. Obviously we have them 7:30am till 6pm and she only sees them a few hours, so we compare the different things that we do, we talk about it a lot, all the time.
MD So, you are quite motivated in the work that you do and quite excited about it. What would be your music for your motivation in life?
ES I just listen to anything upbeat. Like, in the morning I have got a playlist that I listen to and it's called, songs to sing in the car, on Spotify.
MD Songs to sing in the car?
ES Yeh, it's incredible. It just gets me ready, because obviously I leave at 7am, sometimes I am like, oh it's Friday, I am so tired, but as soon as I put that on, I don't know what it is, but I am one of those people that if I hear a song once I know all the words, so I remember all the words and then I am quite happy in the car.
MD Are there particular artists on that playlist that you particularly like?
ES I love Justin Bieber. Everybody slags me off, but if I listen to him I am in the zone and when I'm in the office I have to really focus and if people talk to me I have to have music on, and it just distracts me. I don't know if it's the age I am at, but it's probably just what I am used to because everybody listens to music and it's all, like social networking and stuff, I always have to, if I have the distraction I can focus, but if it's silent or someone is talking to me too much I can't, I don't know why.
MD Yeh. Who or what are your inspirations in your career? There might be a person, project, presentation?
ES I think Heather at work, Heather Goods, our nursery manager, she has been with me through it all and has been to all the award ceremonies and helped me get through them all. She has written the big blurb to help me get the awards, kind of thing, so she is really, she has helped me a lot. Obviously I have got Charlotte who has helped me, because she has been a supervisor for a lot longer than me, so she has helped me a lot along the way, to be fair, I said to her whenever she is on holiday I hate it, I freak out because I need Charlotte there to help me. I think we just support each other so much that it...
MD You've got Charlotte in the room today as well.
ES Say Hi.
ES I think, em, we support each other, so if we've got a problem we both, we go inside and talk about it and then we go, quite a lot of it is in a cupboard. We have got this cupboard, my nap room is like quite a big cupboard, but if we have got something that we are thinking, what are we going to, we go into the cupboard and come out and we are like, it's fine. Bam, bam, bam, isn't it? Then we are out, and we feel calm again. Because we do a lot of the work together, we go to the care homes together as well with the kids, so I think because we work so closely together we have got a very good working relationship, which I think helps me a lot.
ES It's probably Charlotte and Heather who have helped me, and I had Colette, who was the supervisor up the stairs with me, so she helped me grow as well. So, I think it's all about the people I work with, kind of motivate me. We have just opened a new nursery in Haddington as well, so Heather has kind of moved, she is now the manager up at the new nursery. I have realised now how much she actually supported me. I don't think I realised until she wasn't there, kind of thing. So, it has been a big change to have her go. We are adapting now, but it was a big change, she did motivate us all a lot.
MD Good stuff. Is there a piece of advice that you would give to those working, or considering working, in social services sector?
ES I think I would say, if you have a bad day don't let it put you down, because you can have a lot, there are a lot of kids settling and it's hard and there is a lot of crying then sometimes you think, I cannot do this, but once you have done it a couple of times you realise it's normal and if you feel like it's really hard then just talk to somebody and you will be fine. That's what I found.
MD Yeh, use the people around you?
ES Yeh, I found that the people you work with, you see them more than you are at home, so you need to make sure you've got that proper relationship, like I am with them more than I am with my mum and dad, so it's, I rely on them all a lot. Yeh, you need that.
MD If you were to pick one thing, rather than just family or friends, if you could pick one thing that you couldn't live without, what would that be?
ES Probably the internet. I know that's ridiculous, but I get so much from it that I don't think I could live without it. Like, when I have got something that I am always thinking about then I just Google or if I have something that I have got an idea of, but I don't know what I need for it, or anything like that, I just search for it all and I know and then it helps me in my practice, kind of thing. It works, it does help me a lot, but obviously family and friends, the kids at work, I live for them, I love them all so much.
MD You would take them all away to your desert island?
ES Oh I would, you know, I would actually, I would love it. Some days I don't even talk to the staff, I just want to talk to the kids all day, which is ridiculous, but you do get like that, you just want to play with the kids. It is like being a child again when you are at work, kind of thing.
MD It's definitely not ridiculous because it's what you do, that's what you enjoy.
ES I think that's why I like the inter-generational so much, because you see what the elderly get out of it. The kids, because we have been going for quite a while now, the kids go up to them and cuddle them and they talk about their families and talk about the elderly's families and it's so, I love it, it's amazing.
MD Ok, so this is work you are involved in with, inter-generational work?
ES Yes. Myself and Charlotte go to Haddington Day Centre, which is, obviously they just pop in and out, they don't live there, but we also go to one that's called Florabank, where they are all residents there. So, we do the 2, we do them both fortnightly so that it's not too much for the older people, but it's so good, what you see from them, and they are always like, oh please come back, we can't wait to see you when you come back. Then when we get back the kids always talk about it and they always remember Margaret. It's the one name, if we say, lets go to the Day Centre, they are like, are we going to see Margaret? Yeh. It's so funny what they remember. It's so fulfilling in your job, I think that's why I love it so much.
MD Ok. So, my last question, you will know this podcast is called Freshly Squeezed, how do you like your juice? Do you like it smooth or with juicy bits?
ES Oh, smooth.
MD Smooth all the way, is it?
ES Yeh, I hate bits in my juice.
MD Stick in your teeth.
MD Ok, that's brilliant Emma. Emma you have been Freshly Squeezed today, thanks for coming in today.
ES Thank you.
MD All the best with your career.
ES Thanks for having me.