Early learning and childcare expansion on track with six months to go.
The transformational expansion of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) in Scotland is on course to be delivered from August 2020, Children’s Minister Maree Todd said.
Backed by an unprecedented £2 billion investment, by the end of the expansion more than 900 nurseries will have been built, extended or refurbished since 2018. Meanwhile, 4,310 additional full-time equivalent staff have also been recruited, resulting in a record 40,000-strong workforce.
From August, all three and four-year-olds and around a quarter of two-year-olds, will be entitled to 1,140 hours a year – almost double the current entitlement of 600 hours.
In response to today’s Audit Scotland report on early learning expansion, Children’s Minister Maree Todd said:
“We are on course to deliver the most generous, high quality early learning and childcare offer in the UK, which can transform the lives of children. I’ve seen and heard of the way children’s confidence and communication skills have been boosted by the care and learning they’ve received, while they’re also getting access to opportunities such as outdoor learning.
“Through our strong partnership working with local government, so much has already been achieved. There are already thousands of additional staff in post, and councils will continue to grow their teams over the coming months.
“We have also been delivering a large-scale infrastructure programme to provide high quality settings. Hundreds of nurseries have been built or refurbished, with work continuing across the country.
“We are committed to delivering the roll-out from August and councils have contingency plans in place for all critical projects due to complete this summer, so we can be confident that the places will be there to deliver the expansion for Scotland’s children. The expansion also opens up more opportunities for playgroups, private and third sector nurseries, and childminders to be involved in delivering funded hours.
“The quality of ELC provided is absolutely key. That is why we are investing in the workforce and developing improved learning opportunities for them to increase their skills and share best practice.
“With a passionate and dedicated workforce across all parts of the sector, and fantastic places for children to learn and play in a nurturing environment, there has never been a more exciting time for our childcare sector.”
Due to the phasing in of the increased ELC entitlement, 50,000 children are already benefitting from more than the current 600 hours they are entitled to, allowing parents and carers to explore work, education and training opportunities.
They can register through their local authority and apply for the option that suits their needs, from the choices available locally - whether a local authority, private or third sector nursery, playgroup or childminder.