Expansion of early learning and childcare in Scotland: Quality Action Plan

A Quality Action Plan to underpin the expansion of early learning and childcare (ELC) in Scotland to 1140 hours per year by 2020.

High Quality Physical Environments

As we expand ELC provision, it is important that we have the right physical infrastructure, both indoors and outdoors, to improve outcomes for children. This includes capacity but also appropriate and stimulating learning, care and development environments for all children in ELC.

‘Space to Grow’ (Scottish Government, June 2017) aims to maximise the positive experiences for children and improve the quality of care and learning by helping ELC services to think innovatively about the design of their settings. The guidance is a useful tool for providers, planners and architects when creating, extending or refurbishing ELC settings. Although the guidance provides many insights into what constitutes good design, illustrated through case studies from Scotland and further afield, it acknowledges that all environments are unique. The focus throughout remains on the positive impact a well- designed indoor and outdoor environment has on improving outcomes and experiences for children. Dissemination activity by the Care Inspectorate is currently underway to maximise the impact and benefits of this new guidance.

The concept of the environment is wider than just buildings, space and infrastructure. Building the Ambition offers a wider concept of the child’s immediate environment: “flexible in offering choices and carefully selected resources which capture interest to create moments which spark children’s play” and providing access to “props and spaces both inside and outside where children can play”. The key is to establish a safe, secure and inspiring physical environment for learning indoors and outdoors, with spaces for children to play together and to be alone or with a few others, and materials and resources that support creativity and learning.

Access to physical resources is clearly important, but more so are practitioners skills in making optimum use of physical and learning environments. ‘Building the Ambition’ sets out very clearly what sort of immediate environment young children need at different developmental stages, and what sort of environment helps put pedagogy into practice and promote the child’s wellbeing, communication, curiosity, inquiry and creativity. As part of the refresh of Building the Ambition we will strengthen content on creating learning environments for two year olds.


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