Monday, 5 October 2015


These images are from Haida Gwaii 

The first photograph is of a window in the now derelict building which once housed the Nursery in which (and I need to say this again) I believe the Custtad approach to working with children originated

The second photograph was prompted by the unexpected discovery that the walls which could be seen when looking into the window had been painted pink. And not only were they pink but they closely resembled the shade of pink we always aim to use in Custtad rooms

Surely this was an amazing and unlikely co-incidence  Someone along the way (and the building has had many uses since it had ceased to be a nursery school) had chosen pink for the walls 
And as far as I know no one who had used the building over the intervening decades knew anything about Custtad 

More about the Custtad approach and about the pink we use can be found at at and at 

Also, mainly for cost considerations, we are continuing to use the previously established site at as the host for some (in our opinion) interesting supplementary information about THE MAKING OF CUSTTAD

Saturday, 3 October 2015



The accumulation of the necessary toys and materials to resource a facility is best achieved through the cooperation and assistance of as large a group of helpers as possible.

As anyone who has resourced a facility will affirm, there really is no substitute for the support and enthusiasm of friends and colleagues. And their involvement contributes not only to the task but it also adds credibility to our declaration to a child that the facility is a ‘room that has been specially set up for children’.

The most effective route to understanding what materials and toys are required is probably through a visit to a facility. But again there is much useful information in Balancing and on the two main Custtad web sites.
We have two cautions – both based on experience.

One relates to some teachers and head teachers who love catalogues and enjoy spending the funds provided by their education authority - and perhaps in ways that they would never spend their own. This can lead to the purchase of items that are not suitable for Custtad and to a situation we would prefer to avoid. This occurs when a Custtad worker, who is visiting a facility to authorize its readiness for use, needs to request that the unsuitable items be removed.

As we advocate that Custtad costs be kept as low as possible it is frustrating to find that money has been spent on unnecessary items when it could have been used for the toys and objects which are considered to be essential.

The other caution is when children offer to contribute items from their own collection of toys. It is safer not to agree to this. Children can have complex attachments to their toys and this could influence their response to the materials in the facility. It also avoids any possibility of a child, deciding that they have changed their mind, and asking for their toys to be returned to them.

The links will follow soon

Monday, 20 April 2015


We were told recently that files on the main CUSTTAD web site had become corrupted.

We decided to change where it was being hosted and this is in the process of being arranged.

The domain name has now been transferred and we are attempting to use an unfamiliar software to transfer the content from the old site to a new one. Because it has been taking so long to achieve the move I have altered the title of this post.

The Custtad site was unavailable for a few days but some text and some images are now in place. However the various links required to move around the site have not yet been established.

If you do visit at and have suggestions about how it might be improved we would be glad to hear from you. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


In the book MAKING CUSTTAD there are several references to the toys and materials which are required in a CUSTTAD facility. However somewhere along the way we have apparently lost the chapter entitled TOYS AND MATERIALS

This was discovered recently and we intend to remedy the situation by posting the chapter on this site and providing links to further information on the subject

Until then the photograph below is of some very special hand made wooden toys which I used when I started out on this project. I wanted to post photograph of the artist who made them but have so far failed to make contact

Rather adding the TOYS AND MATERIAL chapter on this page it is being given a post of its own

Tuesday, 3 March 2015


In August 2013 we received an email from one of the four main Custtad workers in South Lanarkshire. I inadvertently saw it this morning and its content has prompted the following comments.

In the email we were being informed about some recent changes which had been made to the Custtad facilities within the Authority And that information is being presented here to illustrate one of the main reasons why Custtad in South Lanarkshire has been able to grow and develop over the past, approximately, twenty years.

But before explaining more about the email it is important to say something about the 'top down' support which the approach has received. Apart from those about to be mentioned there may have been other genuine supporters  - at the top - that we have not been aware of And if some do exist we would like to hear about them and include mention of them here.

Those we do know about and who have been strategically important have been Anne Rooney and Frances Swinburne And providing more recent support and essential funding has been Kathleen Colvan Without the three of them Custtad would have probably faded out of sight And we are very appreciative of all that they have done to help keep Custtad trucking.

There have also been a number of Head Teachers (too many to mention here) who, with no pressure from us, have willingly and enthusiastically set up facilities in their own schools and helped out with the Custtad Training Programme by hosting Custtad trainees for their practice sessions We acknowledge their vital support.

And having got this far I now realise that I have been drawn into saying more than was initially intended. 

While we feel that the approach has grown and continues to grow organically from the bottom up it could be argued that the process has been remarkably slow However for us that is acceptable Our preference has always been to have it used by several people who are intent on maintaining its integrity and (as we see it) effectiveness And if, in doing so, only a few children benefit, that would acceptable

But back to the email.

Four trained Custtad workers have made an essential contribution to Custtad's maintenance and progress. They are (using first names in alphabetical order) Anne Johnston, Fiona Smith, Liz McMenamin and Margaret Leitch And what they describe in the email illustrates what they have brought to the work throughout their association with it And we are convinced, from our knowledge and experience of them, that the qualities which have been evident in the practical maintenance of the facilities will have informed their sessions and interactions with children

Described as an update, the email informed us that the Custtad facility in 
Beckford Primary School had been closed The space had been needed to create a class area for the whole school This was declared to be sad for all

However, the email went on to say that in June of that year, Frances (Swinburne) had contacted someone in 'resources' to let them know there was now no Custtad facility in that area of South Lanarkshire And this had resulted in St John's Primary School in Hamilton being identified as a possible alternative location

Arrangements were then made to get the room painted during the holidays; Anne, Liz and Margaret packed up the Beckford room and transported the furniture and materials to St John's, where they washed prepared and unpacked everything A large sand tray, which was surplus to needs in the 'old Spittal Custtad room' was moved to St John's in a Ford people carrier which they borrowed

With the main items now in place, sand was added to the trays and the room was made ready for use Everyone in St John's had apparently been very welcoming and members of staff passing by, as the facility was being set up, seemed to be delighted

The second part of the email referred to a Custtad facility which had been recently set up in St Charles Primary School, Cambuslang. There were fewer details about where and how they had acquired the necessary furniture and materials but the name Helen Deeney was mentioned The email concluded with Custtad workers expressing delight that the St Charles room was also now 'up and running'.

So, on discovering that old email this morning, it felt important to share the above information And as it was being written a hope did begin to emerge from the process The hope is that this post might be of interest to those in South Lanarkshire who are not familiar with Custtad or who are unaware of the splendid work which is being quietly carried out by some of the Authority's very dedicated employees

And perhaps some of those with the influence to do so will have a closer look at what Custtad is providing and choose to support its future use and implementation

Thursday, 26 February 2015


The pamphlets referred to in the post entitled THE MAIN LINE have been scanned and will be presented below. Copies of them are available to be distributed to interested schools by the main South Lanarkshire Custtad workers.

For parents

For schools