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Early Learning & Childcare Trials


In early 2016 the First Minister announced that a series of trials would be run to test a variety of models for delivering the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) expansion to 1,140 hours:

'By trialling different methods with local authorities and child care providers, we will be better able to understand what parents and children need and want, and what is actually working. This will be crucial as we move forward with our transformational expansion of childcare.'

The Scottish Government is providing £1 million of investment to support the delivery of the trials and on the 22 December 2016, the Minister for Childcare and Early Years announced the second tranche of trials to receive funding. There are now 14 trials in total, spread throughout the country. They will test a variety of different delivery models including:

  • Making additional hours available through local childminders as part of a blended approach

  • Linking provision of ELC to local employability services aimed at helping parents to access employment, training or education

  • Co-locating ELC services and out of school care services

A summary of each trial is provided below:


This trial looks at the conversion of a small nursery class south of Forfar to focus on outdoor learning and allowing the capacity of the nursery to increase. It will see provision move from part-time to a full day model, within the school day (9am-3pm). Linked childminders will be providing before and after care if needed. It will feature community consultation to support development of the project.

Argyll & Bute

Working with existing provision on Mull & Tiree, this trial will extend part-time provision to full day ELC for 2-5 year olds.  Additional hours will be made available through local childminders. Working with Mull & Iona Community Trust, this project will develop holiday care operating from the Tobermory Pre-5 Unit.

Dumfries & Galloway

This trial will extend current term-time ELC provision to full day, all year round provision. A partner provider setting will be engaged in this work to provide greater flexibility for parents. Further flexibility will be provided by childminders, who will be commissioned to provide additional hours in a blended model where that is needed.


This innovative project will trial blended ELC provision, which will utilise childminders, for eligible 2 year olds. It specifically targets children at risk of being placed on the child protection register or who are newly placed on the register and will be developing holistic referral and monitoring processes for those children.

East Ayrshire

This trial builds on an existing community childminding model and will provide blended ELC provision with childminders for eligible 2 year olds. Childminders will be linked to local nurseries to maintain consistency for children.

Eilean Siar

This project will trial extending morning only, term time nursery provision to full day, year round provision for 2-5 year olds. The extended provision will be integrated with out of school care to meet whole family needs and improve sustainability in a remote and rural community. It also plans to develop the provision of parenting support alongside the ELC, all in one place.


Glasgow will be trialling a new staffing model to increase flexible access at the Tower View Nursery. This project, in an area of high deprivation, will provide a blended model of provision with childminders working with the nursery to provide part of the child’s ELC experience. The learning from this trial will inform planning for the Glasgow Childcare Public Social Partnership.


This trial will extend the existing Midlothian family learning centre approach, from Woodburn to Gorebridge and Mayfield. It features a blended model of provision with local childminders part of the mix and co-locates 0-5 year old and out of school care services. It is planned to also co-locate with health and family support services in the area.

North Ayrshire

This project is focused on Irvine, in an area of high deprivation and links provision of ELC to local employability services aimed at helping parents to access employment, training or education. It uses an individualised model of ELC to suit individual family needs and parents will be able to choose from the LA nursery, registered childminders, local private partner nursery – or a blend of any of these services.


This project features a community consultation on a flexible model of ELC provision. It will increase hours within an ELC setting to full day provision. It will also establish commissioning arrangements with private providers and childminders.

South Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire’s trial features a blended model of ELC provision, with registered childminders working with Larkhall Children’s Centre. Focussed in an area of high deprivation, childminders will be used to support parents in outlying communities including programmed participation of children & childminders in the nursery, time spent by the child at the nursery and time spent by the child at the childminders home.


This project, put forward by Aberdeen City Council and Early Years Scotland, is to trial a new and innovative approach to providing ELC for eligible two year olds. The trial will be based on the existing model of Stay and Play delivered by Early Years Scotland, which is built on parental engagement being pivotal to achieving positive outcomes for children, especially for children and families experiencing disadvantage. Unlike existing services for vulnerable 2 year olds where a general period of settling in is planned, the model offers parents the opportunity to stay and play.

Scottish Borders

The trial will offer additional hours to children accessing ELC in Selkirk. It builds on existing provision where some wraparound exists but parents are required to pay. The trial will offer an increase in the number of hours of ELC provided Monday to Friday during term time and ELC provision will be offered during holiday periods to meet parental demand. Trial will also explore how ELC can be delivered holistically and integrated with other services, including the out of school club and the Early Years Centre.


This project will look to extend two nursery settings within Edinburgh through the establishment of outdoor nursery provision through a nature kindergarten. The trials will be targeted at nurseries in areas of high deprivation, with around 10-12 children in each setting receiving the additional hours. Additional hours will be offered to pre-school children (4 year olds) minimising disruption on conclusion of the trial.