We want to ensure that all children get the best possible start in life.
To help achieve this, we are committed to providing high quality, flexible early learning and childcare that is accessible and affordable for all families.
To extend and improve the quality of early learning and childcare we are:
- increasing the funded entitlement for all three and four years olds to 1,140 hours a year, equivalent to 30 hours per week term time
- extending the entitlement for all looked after two year olds and two year olds whose families receive qualifying benefits
- introducing a new national standard for early learning and childcare
- investing in the early years workforce
- providing specialist early learning support for children in the most deprived communities
- promoting greater use of outdoor play and learning for children
- developing a suite of free online modules for all early learning and childcare practitioners
- identifying measures to address inequality via the Gender Equality in Education and Learning Taskforce
Other ways in which we are supporting children and parents during the early years include:
- running an early child development programme which aims to reduce the proportion of children with developmental concerns by 2030
- offering baby boxes filled with useful items to all babies born in Scotland
- the Parent Club website which offers support and advice to parents and carers on a range of issues
- funding the Bookbug programme to provide free books and learning sessions to young children
- working in partnership with the Corra Foundation to administer The Children, Young People, Families, Early Intervention and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund
- running the Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative to improve services for children, young people and families
- publishing resources for parents such as Play, Talk, Read to help parents to interact with their children effectively
We provide funding to local authorities to deliver funded early learning and childcare (ELC).
Funded ELC is delivered by a wide range of providers including nurseries and playgroups, from across the public, private and third sectors and by childminders.
All three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds, are currently entitled to 600 hours of funded ELC a year. From August 2020, this will increase to 1140 hours and local authorities are already phasing this in for some children.
In March 2017, following a public consultation, we published an action plan for the expansion of ELC: A blueprint for 2020: the expansion of early learning and Childcare in Scotland.
In October 2017 we published A quality action plan to underpin the expansion of early learning and childcare setting out our plans to ensure the expansion delivers a high quality experience for all children.
Bills and legislation
The legislative basis for providing funded early learning and childcare is found in two pieces of primary legislation: The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
The 1980 Act places a duty on local authorities to secure provision of school education, including early learning and childcare, in their area.
Following their duties under the 1980 Act, the 2014 Act places a duty on local authorities to secure a specified amount of funded ELC for children in their area and sets out a framework on how this should be delivered.
Secondary legislation was passed in 2019 amending the 2014 Act, so that from 1 August 2020, the amount of funded early learning and childcare eligible children are entitled to will increase to 1140 hours a year.
Email: Central Enquiries Unit firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 0300 244 4000
Creating Positive Futures Division
Children and Families Directorate
Area 2C - North