Living Wage

Highland Fling will continue to be committed to paying our staff 'at the very least' the Real Living Wage. They deserve our investment in them. We feel strongly that this is the right thing to do given their impressive range of qualifications, diverse skillbase and widespread expertise. We think your children should have some of the best people in the sector and we are happy to align our business model to pay for them. Crucially, this does not involve simply passing on the costs to our parents/carers.

There are very few childcare settings that pay the Real Living Wage in Scotland.


Gender Balance at Highland Fling

Holyrood, one of Scotland's leading current affairs magazines recently published some interesting statistics. 

  • Just 6% of childcare agency workers, 4% of child day care workers and 0% of childminders in Scotland are men; and,
  • Only 8% of Primary School teaching staff are male

This is pretty shocking.

A diverse and balanced early-years workforce can help children, from all backgrounds, to visualise their futures and fulfill their educational potential. It’s important for all children to experience positive male role models, and to understand that men can be interested in education, science, nature or reading, just as much as in football!

As usual, Highland Fling bucks the trend. We have a workforce of around 22 of which 8 are male, including the manager. That's around the 36% mark.

How can we do this? We work from our ethos outwards (not just economics), and create the conditions that attract and retain the highly educated and multi-skilled group of individuals that make up our team. 

The Fifth of the Five Freedoms: Freedom of Choice

For any of us to make good choices we have first to be aware of what is on offer. This
incredible world of ours is full of variety and opportunity and it is our pleasure to introduce the children to a wide variety of ideas, activities and environments.


Our staff provide a positive and exciting learning platform for the children to experiment and discover what they are good at and what they enjoy most. Children have the opportunity to take part in sports, drama, music, cookery, dance, photography, arts and crafts, and much more.


During our ‘choosing times’ which we have daily, the children are free to select a favourite from several on offer.


It is very important that we encourage children to at least try an activity before deciding
that they don’t like it as fear of the unknown can be restrictive in later life. Once a child
has displayed an interest in a topic or activity it is exciting for us to help them develop this further.

We pride ourselves at Highland Fling on providing so many different experiences and so
much choice. You will find us on the beach rock-pooling, in the forest searching for wild
garlic, in the art room making our footprints in clay, and performing plays that the children have written themselves.

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All children will be encouraged to be confident in giving things a try and to be confident in making their own choices. These are definitely useful life skills. We hope to inspire
hobbies that can last a lifetime or even lead to careers, and have lots of fun along the

The Fourth of the Five Freedoms: Freedom in the Natural Environment


Our planet is quite simply amazing. Listen to Sir David Attenborough speak, as we did at a recent conference, and you can hear a torrent of immense enthusiasm from this great man. His eyes still light up in wonder as he talks even though he has already dedicated an entire life to exploring our world. Our children are at the very beginning of their own voyage of

discovery and it is our privilege to be able to join them on their first expeditions.

At Highland Fling we aim to let the children be outdoors on a daily basis and to help them explore all kinds of terrain and environments. We set off on adventures on a daily basis and even our smallest people can take part. It easy to forget that the youngest ones have so much they have never seen before and they can be fascinated by the tiniest details.

They need time to watch the ants dig holes in the sand and float sticks in puddles.


The outdoors is the perfect environment to do all kinds of learning, not just Forest
Schools with its bonfires, wood whittling and foraging, but also to practice numbers or
learn new letters. Our children can often be seen counting stones or shells on the beach, or forming the letters of their names with twigs in the forest.


We aim to introduce the children to trees, plants and wildlife, and to let them experience
the season changes for themselves by being out and about in all weathers. An
abundance of fresh air and fun in the outdoors makes for happy, healthy Highland

Being connected to and feeling part of this wonderful planet of ours is a gift and a love of the outdoors gives a lifetime of enjoyment and hobbies. Our staff team includes talents in Forest Schools, outdoor arts, health and well-being, sports and games, scout leadership, and wild cooking and foraging. They are passionate about their interests and very eager to share them with all our children.

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The Third of the Five Freedoms: Freedom in Society

As the world is populated by millions of people of all shapes, sizes and personalities, it is
important to feel confident in moving amongst them. At the same time as learning about their own selves the child has much to learn about others and how to interact rewardingly and respectfully both in group situations or one-to-one.

Discovering and celebrating our differences is a great life journey.


To equip the children as fully as possible Highland Fling provides many activities of a
cooperative nature so that the feelings of enjoyment and success are shared amongst a group. We have drama and music specialists on our team giving the children the chance to have fun and become more confident in their abilities to talk and perform in front of others. In addition to this we try to make sure the children know how to show good manners and polite and respectful behaviour as this makes being a part of the wider world so much easier.

Highland Fling plays a large role in the local community. We assist the park rangers, visit care homes for the elderly, put on dance and drama shows, and raise money for
charitable causes through various events. Our children are learning to be comfortable and sociable in a large range of situations.

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The Second of the Five Freedoms: Freedom of Expression

To be a confident communicator and not to be afraid of expressing oneself creatively
gives great freedom in society. Our youngest children may not have all their words yet
and older ones may not always feel like using theirs, but there are so many ways of
expressing ourselves.

At Highland Fling we use music, sports, dance, drama, and the arts on a daily basis, both indoor and out. Children learn to find joy in the process - many times there is no concrete outcome but rather the great feeling of having immersed themselves in something that gives them great pleasure.

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Our staff are all excellent communicators who listen carefully to the children and help
them share their ideas and opinions. For young children learning how to communicate or express themselves in a group setting can be quite a challenge. Learning to work
together on a project whether building a bonfire or baking a cake develops several skills.

The children learn to join the conversation, express their views, listen to others and take
turns. Everyone’s input is valuable and a successful shared project is the cause for much celebration on completion.

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Watching our new children find their feet and become confident communicators in a
group setting is really rewarding. Anyone visiting Highland Fling will notice immediately
that our children are extremely eager to talk and share their opinions on just about

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The First of the Five Freedoms: The Freedom to Develop

The first Freedom we like to put in place for our Highland Flingers is the Freedom to Develop at their own natural pace. In society we often group people together for very practical purposes when dealing with large numbers. In the case of schooling this is predominantly done by date of birth. In one way this is extremely logical but it can be counter-productive when trying to encourage and support the different needs and stages of development for each child. As adults, our social groups consist of a wide variety of ages both at work and during leisure time. By streaming children by their birth dates we can create a very unrealistic model of the wider world.


Any lists of expectations or generic targets for very young people may restrict natural development and even cause anxiety in some. Although our children are grouped by age for their key worker times, Highland Fling creates daily opportunities for children of all ages to mix, share activities and enjoy each others’ company. Many friendships are formed beyond the barriers of age. All of our planning considers each individual child rather than the group as a whole.

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This means we have a planning strategy for every child based on their interests, their nature, their development stages, and importantly the information provided by parents and carers. These plans flow in line with the child’s own development and enable your child to get the most out of Highland Fling – at their own pace.

What are The Five Freedoms?

The Five Freedoms of Highland Fling were written in preparation of opening our doors for the first time in 1998 and still form the backbone of our philosophy and routine to date. The concept is one of enabling our children to have a fun and enriching childhood whilst at the same time building up very useful skills for a happy and fulfilled life in the future.

1. Freedom to Develop

2. Freedom of Expression

3. Freedom in Society

4. Freedom in The Natural Environment

5. Freedom of Choice

By applying the Five Freedoms in our daily practice we hope to encourage and support our children in being happy, creative and confident individuals who can get the very best out of life.


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Twenty Years of Highland Fling

20 years since the opening of Highland Fling. That marks a lot of years and a tremendous number of children. Some of those children have children of their own now and that's a benchmark worth considering. Imagine all the books that would be filled with the stories of their lives. That's what Highland Fling is about, what we have always been about – playing a part in the story of that little person's life. Conscious of the significance of that role, 20 years ago we created the Five Highland Fling Freedoms and they still form the heart of our childcare philosophy today. Those freedoms have influenced all that we are. They are the bedrock on which we are built.


Over the next few weeks, we will attempt to outline what makes Highland Fling different; what are the Five Freedoms, and how do they impact on the environment that we inhabit, how do they influence the staff and managers, and most importantly what do they do for the children.