During the Review, a number of key people within the Early Years Division of the Scottish Government were particularly helpful, knowledgeable and supportive of the process.
Kathryn Chisholm worked tirelessly to ensure that key people and stakeholders were invited to focus groups and meetings; and that visits to schools, settings and centres were relevant, representative of their particular type of setting, and well organised. She also supported the dissemination of two calls for evidence from the governmental hub which resulted in approximately 400 responses.
Kathryn Chisholm and Liz Paterson supported the ongoing planning of the timetable of visits and meetings conducted during the Review. They were always good humoured and positive when answering questions as they arose, and finding further information.
Shirley Laing and Susan Bolt helped the Review by chairing meetings and offering thoughtful feedback and further information. Stuart Robb and Katherine Tierney also informed the process, especially as the Review began to take shape and the first drafts were prepared. The whole team supported the Review's development, gave advice about accuracy and relevance, and sought additional advice from other Scottish Government departments and key stakeholder groups.
The Review was received positively at all levels within the Scottish Government and was informed by the time, information, support and feedback provided by senior officials. These included: Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government; Leslie Evans, Director General, Learning and Justice; Mike Foulis, Director, Children and Families; and Fiona Robertson, Director, Learning.
The Review was also enriched by meetings and discussions with the politicians leading on children and young people's policy: Mike Russell, then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning; Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People; and, Fiona McLeod, Acting Minister for Children and Young People.
The Review benefitted greatly from the very large number of people who engaged with the process during the year, answering questions and offering views. This provided a breadth and depth of information, and sharp insight into the unique perspectives of those who participated.
Above all, the Review was helped by the staff and children in the settings which were visited during the process. Staff gave their time to talk, answer questions, and provide tours of their premises; and children - whose presence highlighted the importance of the Review to ensure the best provision for them - showed how they engaged with, and enjoyed, the opportunities afforded to them and their families.
The Review is indebted to the Core Reference Group ( CRG) of key stakeholders, and the practitioners and representatives from stakeholder institutions and bodies, for the rich information and views they provided, and the time they spent in focus groups and meetings and responding to the questionnaires on the hub - both individually and in groups.
In addition, the Review was strengthened by those who provided thoughtful feedback on the initial findings, themes and drafts. They contributed a wealth of information which contained detailed and unique views of the current thoughts, issues and concerns about the Early Learning and Childcare ( ELC) and Out of School Care ( OSC) Workforces within Scotland. The analysis of this information has informed the discussions, the directions of travel and the final recommendations.
The Review process involved much communication and collaboration - and listening to as many voices as possible. Although some views were understandably contrasting and conflicting, there was an encouraging large degree of consensus.
The Review's title underscores, however, that this is an Independent Review. While those mentioned above have had genuine parts in the Review's development, Professor Iram Siraj, as chair of the Review, takes responsibility for the final content.