Cowgate Staff hold and are studying for a wide range of qualifications including BA in Childhood Practice, Masters in Early Education, Forest School training, PGDE, and PhDs and seek out further professional development often through exchanging knowledge and experience with other professionals and early years networks.
Many staff at the Centre have completed the University of Edinburgh Froebel course which is co-led by Dr Lynn McNair, Cowgate’s Head of Centre.
Staff support early years professional development in Scotland by presenting Cowgate practice, mentoring students and providing opportunities for students and visitors to experience the Cowgate environment.
Our work is challenging as well as enjoyable and requires strong personal commitment from staff. There is a very strong ethos of learning within our staff team and staff are pro-active in their professional development, often studying at postgraduate level.
About our staff
Lynn McNair – Head of Centre – My ardent passion has always been the child. As one of thirteen children, my home was always filled with young children and babies. I used to ‘teach’ my dollies maths. However, having my own children Kurt and Mischa taught me more than college or university – sharing their lives with them was such a pleasure and an honour. Being a mother taught me so much. As I have progressed in my career I have found myself being very interested in ‘listening to children’ and really hearing what they say; children’s agency and children’s rights are also areas I am fervent about, and as an endorsed Froebel trainer – the work of Friedrich Froebel underpins my practice here at the centre…it is a privilege to work with children…and I have never doubted my career choice for one moment (well maybe one ;))
June Graham – Administrator and early years practitioner My first encounter with Cowgate was when I came to work here for three days as a supply nursery nurse in 2005. I never left. I worked in the Baby room as an Early Years Practitioner until 2014 when I took over the post of administrator. I still get to have plenty time with the children however. I am a qualified Baby and Child Massage Instructor and have also written articles for Nursery World magazine, mainly on nutrition. The sequence books I designed won a Nursery World award in 2009. I enjoy anything crafty…making cards, knitting, making models, cross stitch, playing with my new sewing machine, and I have just started another evening class, this time cake decorating.
Avril Johnstone brings lunches Monday to Thursday
Dave Dudgeon – Janitor
Birth to three
Karen Thomson – Room leader and Centre Deputy, I joined the Cowgate team in 2006 working with babies and then two year olds before moving to my current post in 2009. Over my years working with children I have had special interest in additional support for learning, the key person approach/relationships and children’s rights and autonomy. During my time at Cowgate I have studied at the University of Edinburgh on the Froebel Course and on to the BA in Childhood Practice, graduating in 2014. I feel my life is enriched through my work at Cowgate as no two days are the same. Cowgate is such a diverse and stimulating place to be, and I meet varied and interesting people, be that in our staff team, our families or the many visitors we host to the setting both national and international.
Emma Clarkson – I have been part of the Cowgate community for just over 3 years, as an Early Years Practitioner. I obtained my Froebel in Childhood Practice certificate in 2013. I believe that Cowgate is unique in the way that staff respect and trust our children to be directors in their own learning, giving them freedom for play to flow naturally between outdoors and indoors, and throughout different areas of the centre.
Gosia Majda – I moved to Edinburgh nearly 10 years ago, and I’ve been working in childcare since then. I joined Cowgate in December 2015 as a temporary early years practitioner. I love the outdoors, travelling and also crochet which I use to support the heuristic play in 0-3 room. I completed the University of Edinburgh Froebel course in June 2017.
Kate Bowman – Hi, My name is Kate or Katie! I am an outdoor enthusiast and I love to escape the city most weekends in my Campervan. I started my role here as an Early Years Practitioner in March 2013, since then I have completed my CPD Froebel in The Early Years at The University of Edinburgh and I am currently undertaking my Forest School Leadership course.
Margaret Wanstall – I’ve been at Cowgate since it opened. I enjoy baking, knitting, sewing and crochet and sharing these experiences with the children. I’ve made curtains in Willow Cottage and fleecy hats for children at stickland.
Rebeca Perna, I have been working in the birth – three space at Cowgate since August 2014 and received my Froebel in Childhood Practice certificate from Edinburgh University in 2016. At Cowgate our children have the autonomy and freedom to float between different spaces in the centre, celebrating the unity of ‘indoors and outdoors.’ They have the opportunity to create their own play experiences and to lead their own learning which links together with ‘dispositional learning’ and supports the children’s emotional wellbeing and development. Cowgate is a diverse polyglot community where we embrace and celebrate the beauty of multi-culturalism. Being bilingual myself, I really appreciate sharing the gift and wonder of languages with our children.
Scott Craig – I’ve worked at Cowgate for nine years. I have always had an interest in working with children. I am based in birth to three but previously worked in the Big Room for six years. Building relationships with children and families is one of my main strengths and is paramount to life at Cowgate.
The Big Room 3 to 5
Lian Higgins – I joined Cowgate in January 2003, having been inspired by my daughter to deepen my knowledge about children and childhood. Other than a very brief spell at a private nursery, my entire career in early years has been honed and developed here. I am passionate about the Froebelian ethos practiced here and any time I am not spending with the children is spent sharing our ethos and practice with national and international visitors to Cowgate.
Claire Schoepfer – I joined the children and staff in the ‘Big Room’ in August 2016. Since January 2017, I’ve also been working in the Birth-to-Three Room on Thursdays and Fridays. My interest in working with young children began when I was in secondary school, and since then, I have spent my time studying about early childhood education and working in nurseries and primary schools. I love listening to what children say, watching them play, and trying to understand the world through their eyes.
Lisa Maclachlan – I have been employed at Cowgate Under 5’s Centre since November 2015. I work full time in “The Big Room.” I have been working with children since 2009. I have worked in various settings, schools, nurseries and with children with additional support needs. I’ve joined Cowgate’s Fair Trade Committee to try to raise awareness of Fair Trade products and the benefits that can come from supporting the initiative.
Liz Auld – I’ve been at Cowgate since it opened and I work in the Big Room. I enjoy going to Stickland and I’ve recently been on Forest School training.
Sarah Burton – I started as a parent of a child at Cowgate in 2010, while working in child policy in the voluntary sector. In 2015 I started volunteering at Cowgate while studying to become an early years practitioner and completing the Edinburgh University Froebel course. I’m now pleased to work in the nursery on a Monday and Wednesday working alongside colleagues who once cared for my son. When I’m not at Cowgate I manage a play project based in Fife and Dundee. I’m also a children’s books enthusiast and spent a year working in the Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug team.