As the Minister highlighted in his foreword, the quality of funded ELC in Scotland is already high overall  . The references throughout this action plan to ‘strengthening’ quality should not be taken to imply that there are inadequacies in the provision that is currently being offered to families. Instead, it reflects two things: a recognition that, in order to protect that high quality as we build towards delivering 1140 hours of funded provision, support to the sector will have to increase; and an ambition to see that quality even further enhanced so that we offer families as much choice and accessibility as possible, and our children the best possible start in life.
This action plan has been an opportunity to reaffirm what experience and the research evidence tells us about what drives quality in ELC. The most important factor is that ELC is delivered by a profession that is dedicated to the care, learning and development of our youngest children. The quality of children’s day-to-day experience of our ELC offer, and the potential to use that offer to improve longer-term outcomes for children, depend primarily on the quality of human interaction that they have with those working in the sector. It is important that we value and support that workforce. We hope that the actions set out in this plan demonstrate this, and our strong commitment to investing in their professional identity and development.
That sense of identity and value should be felt in equal measure across all providers of ELC: local authority; private; third and voluntary sector; and childminders. We recognise the contribution that all providers, across all sectors, make to delivering high quality ELC to our children, and we will support all providers equally in maintaining and improving quality.