Note on early learning and childcare expansion and the Covid-19 pandemic
The Scottish Study of Early Learning and Childcare (SSELC) is a longitudinal multi-phase research project established to evaluate the expansion of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) in Scotland. The ELC expansion programme will almost double the hours of funded ELC for all three- and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds, to 1140 per year. This report outlines findings from the surveys and observations conducted as part of the second phase, from a baseline sample of four- and five-year-olds as they leave ELC to begin Primary 1.
The increase in the statutory funded ELC entitlement from 600 to 1140 hours was due to take effect from August 2020. SSELC post-expansion data collection was due to begin in November 2022, two years after all three- and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds, were expected to start receiving 1140 hours of funded ELC per year. However, the expansion programme has been paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Scottish Government and local authorities will agree an alternative implementation timetable once the full implications of the pandemic are understood.
As a result, all references to August 2020 have been removed from this report, and future data collection timetables will also be subject to review. An updated evaluation timetable for the remaining phases of SSELC will be confirmed in due course.