Expansion progress report published.
The majority of eligible children are now receiving the full 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) and more than 80% are receiving more than 600 hours.
Latest data from the Improvement Service, compiled in August, shows that more than 56,000 children (61 per cent of those eligible) are already receiving 1,140 hours of funded ELC, despite the statutory expansion being paused in April to give local authorities the flexibility to focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, 87% of the additional staff forecast to be required for the expansion are now in place.
Children’s Minister Maree Todd said:
“I’m pleased to see that despite the impact of the pandemic, the majority of children are getting the full 1,140 hours of funded, high quality childcare – almost doubling what was previously provided.
“Overall, more than 93,000 children are benefitting from the high quality care and learning provided by our fantastic ELC practitioners. This is a great achievement by all involved.
“The pandemic has had an obvious impact on construction and recruitment plans across the country, however local authorities are making good progress to get back on track and we will continue to support them to do so.
“We have always been clear that the suspension of the statutory duty on local authorities to provide 1,140 hours is a pause, not a stop. We will agree a new delivery date with local government before the end of this year and continue to work with partners to deliver this transformational policy.”
COSLA’s Education and Young Person Spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said:
“Local Government’s main concern throughout this whole pandemic and indeed always is to put the needs of our children and young people first. We took the difficult decision jointly with the Scottish Government to pause implementation of the 1140 hours ELC expansion as the pandemic disrupted plans. We are working closely with the Scottish Government to agree a timeline to reinstate the national duty for 1140 .
“Despite the challenges in construction projects and recruitment issues Councils have worked hard to create additional places and a number of Councils are already offering 1140 hours of funded provision, with more coming online in the months ahead.”
Data returned by local authorities indicates that 93,438 children were accessing funded ELC as of the end of August 2020.
Of these, 74,870 children (80%) were accessing more than the current statutory entitlement of 600 hours, and 56,697 children (61%) were accessing 1140 hours funded ELC.