Improving attainment in early years

High quality childcare improves children’s development.

An action plan to ensure quality is at the heart of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) expansion is published today alongside a report showing the higher the quality of ELC the greater its effect on children’s development.

Other findings from the NHS Health Scotland report include:

  • all children, but especially those from a disadvantaged background, can benefit in terms of social, emotional and educational outcomes from high quality ELC
  • compared to those with no experience, children who attended ELC had improved language and cognitive skills
  • better educated ELC staff with appropriate training are more likely to improve children’s cognitive outcomes
  • fair working conditions which aid staff retention also affected child interactions and stability.  

The Scottish Government’s plan sets out 15 actions to further strengthen quality childcare provision including:

  • Strengthening continuous professional learning for staff and ensuring fair pay and good working conditions
  • Promoting greater use of outdoor learning
  • Empowering parents to make the choice of ELC setting that is right for their child.

Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald said: “Improving education and closing the attainment gap is the number one priority for this government. That is why we are almost doubling the amount of funded childcare from 600 to 1,140 hours and we have committed to double investment in the sector from £420 million to £840 million.

“We know that this alone isn’t enough. If ELC expansion is to support our ambition of making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up and close the poverty-related attainment gap, we need to guarantee that the funded entitlement is of the highest possible quality.

“We are already increasing access to our most qualified staff through our commitment to ensure that nurseries in Scotland’s 20% most deprived areas benefit from an additional graduate by August 2018. However, we know we can do more to further strengthen quality across the ELC sector. The plan published today contains a range of actions to help achieve this.”


 A Blueprint for 2020: The expansion of early learning and childcare in Scotland.

Evidence review on Early Learning and Childcare Quality and the impact on Child Outcomes by NHS Health Scotland.

More information on Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland.



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