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.

Strong Pedagogical Leadership

Pedagogy is the understanding of how to support others to learn, as well as what we want them to learn. A good understanding of pedagogy is important in maximising the learning opportunities we offer children in ELC settings. Although all practitioners should have an understanding of pedagogy, it is important that those who are most qualified and experienced have the time and opportunity for pedagogic leadership and role modelling. There should therefore be an appropriate balance between office management tasks (like financial management and preparing staffing rotas) and leading pedagogical practice. Settings should ensure that their most qualified staff – managers and lead practitioners – have sufficient time to lead pedagogy and the funding provided for the expansion takes account of staff time required for preparation and administrative tasks.

Our commitment to ensure that, by August 2018, nurseries in Scotland’s 20% most deprived areas will benefit from an additional graduate means that there will be 435 additional graduates working directly with children across all local authorities. These will be either a graduate practitioner with a relevant degree award or a teacher with early years expertise. The guidance that we issued to local authorities made it clear that the main duties of additional graduates should be to model and lead appropriate pedagogical practices throughout the setting which are broad and balanced, support the effective delivery of the curriculum and support others in understanding child development.

We need to identify the extent to which graduate-level practitioners, including the additional graduates, are spending their time providing strong pedagogical leadership and share learning about: good practice; what is possible; how it is achieved; and what the benefits are.

Action 7: From April 2018, the Care Inspectorate will include a specific focus in their inspections of early learning and childcare to assess the extent to which graduate-level practitioners are leading pedagogical practice and improving outcomes for children.

Leadership teams in schools with nursery classes also need to be confident leading practice in the early years. Even where the day-to-day running of the nursery is led by a graduate- level manager with a relevant qualification, it is important that they are able to engage in professional dialogue with the school leadership team about early years pedagogy, quality in ELC and the factors that contribute to this.

This will be especially important as we empower headteachers to be the leaders of learning and teaching in their schools and nurseries through the Headteachers’ Charter, announced in Education Governance: Next Steps (June 2017). We will be consulting shortly on reforms to be taken forward through the forthcoming Education Bill, including the Headteachers’ Charter.

Following publication of ‘An Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare Workforce and Out of School Care Workforce’ (Siraj and Kingston, June 2015), we asked the Scottish College for Educational Leadership ( SCEL) to evaluate ELC learning opportunities for school leadership teams. SCEL surveyed and interviewed head teachers in summer 2016 to explore how well they thought that their professional learning was served in relation to twelve key aspects of their role as Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) early level leaders. The findings revealed there was a need for enhanced learning opportunities in respect of: early years pedagogy; theories of attachment; how young children learn and develop; leading with children and families from pre-birth to three years; and leading transitions at early level.

Action 8: We will introduce a learning and development course for school leadership teams on what drives quality in ELC (including what effective early years pedagogy and practice looks like) and how provision for children under three sets the foundations for learning for Curriculum for Excellence.

This course will complement the ‘Into Headship’ programme and be open to existing as well as prospective school leaders. It will also help to deliver the commitment in ‘Education Governance: Next Steps’ to develop skills for effective school leadership by enhancing the leadership support package to build the capacity and culture for teachers and headteachers to embrace their new more empowered role.

We will fund an agreed number of places on the course (likely to be three cohorts of 30 head teachers per year) from August 2018, with a decision about long-term funding made on the basis of emerging demand. Once established, we will consider how the programme could be adapted for other ELC managers who are not part of a school leadership team.


Back to top