2.1 Throughout the development of the policy to expand ELC entitlement to
1140 hours the Scottish Government’s Early Learning and Childcare Directorate has engaged with colleagues across the Scottish Government:
- Directorate for Children and Families
- Directorate for Learning
- Directorate for Economic Policy and Capability
- Directorate for Housing and Social Justice
- Directorate for Local Government and Communities; and
- Directorate for Fair Work, Employability and Skills.
2.2 The ELC Directorate has engaged with officials from the Care Inspectorate on the proposed changes to the minimum framework and the increase in the number of hours a child can have for a funded ELC session in any one day. The Care Inspectorate do not view the minimum session length as a useful additional layer to limiting the length of a child’s session. Session hours would not be a Care Inspectorate registration requirement and the Care Inspectorate has indicated that they are supportive of a move to remove it. The Care Inspectorate through their registration processes can limit the operating hours of a service but for services such as nursery classes, the Care Inspectorate no longer have a requirement for a service to operate within a maximum service length. The focus for Care Inspectorate is on ensuring there is quality provision throughout the day. Therefore changes to maximum session length will not affect the Care Inspectorate registration requirements.
2.3 Officials have also engaged with Education Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council throughout the policy development process to ensure the expanded entitlement of ELC is of a high quality.
2.4 Three public consultation exercises have been carried out since January 2016 to gather views on the programme to expand funded ELC entitlement to 1140 hours. These consultation exercises captured responses from providers, local authorities, representative groups, and from parents. Links to the consultations, including the published responses and independent analyses of the responses, are set out in Table 3.
2.5 Early Learning and Childcare 1140 Hours Expansion – Programme of Trials Consultation. This consultation exercise ran from 20 January 2016 to 18 March 2016 to seek views on the scope and design of a series of trials carried out by the Scottish Government to test different models of delivery for expanded ELC. Consultation questions covered current and future provision of ELC and asked respondents to give views on what they thought the key features of Scotland’s ELC model should be. This consultation also gathered views on the perceived barriers to successfully implementing the 1140 hours commitment.
2.6 There were 73 respondents to this consultation and an analysis of the responses (including details of all respondents) was undertaken by the Research Shop and was published in June 2016.
2.7 A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland Consultation. This consultation ran from 15 October 2016 to 9 January 2017, and gathered views on the Scottish Government’s vision and high-level principles for the expansion as well as the key policy choices that had to be made. It included questions on funding models, phasing, encouraging payment of the real living wage, role of providers in the private and third sectors, ensuring equality of access, supporting learner transitions and the inspection and regulatory regime.
2.8 In addition to the online consultation, a programme of seven supporting consultation events were also held across Scotland to seek the views of providers and parents directly.
2.9 There were 336 respondents to this consultation and an analysis of the responses (which includes details of all respondents) was undertaken by the Research Shop and published in March 2017.
2.10 Early Learning and Childcare Service Model for 2020 Consultation, which ran from 29 March 2018 to 29 June 2018. This consultation was focused on gathering views on a draft version of the National Standard, which would underpin Funding Follows the Child from August 2020.
2.11 In addition to the online consultation, the Scottish Government ELC Service Models Team held a total of eight consultation events across Scotland. Most attendees at the events were ELC providers, with over 200 attendees at these events.
2.12 There were 219 respondents to this consultation and an analysis of the responses (which includes details of all respondents) was undertaken by Rocket Science UK Ltd and was published in October 2018.
Parent Survey Exploring parents' views and use of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland (Parent Survey)
2.13 In 2017 the Scottish Government commissioned social researchers Craigforth to explore parents' views and use of ELC in Scotland. To take this forward they undertook a nationally representative survey and follow up discussions with parents of children under the age of six. This provided information on parents’ and carers’ current use of, views and experiences of ELC. A total of 10,526 valid survey responses were submitted by parents to inform this research. In particular, this research gathered views from parents and carers on the flexibility to use their ELC entitlement.
2.14 The survey showed an appetite among parents to use all or almost all of their child’s 1140 hours entitlement and showed that many of the parents surveyed (65%) stated that they would prefer longer funded sessions on fewer days per week.
2.15 Further to this, all local authorities have developed detailed expansion plans to ensure that they will be able to continue to meet their statutory duties. The Scottish Government produced expansion planning guidance for local authorities to support this process. The expansion plans were reviewed by the Scottish Government Delivery Team in 2017, and the multi-year funding settlement was based on financial plans prepared by authorities.
2.16 Active engagement with private, and third sector providers, including childminders, has been ongoing from an early stage to understand the impact of the expansion on these providers, including childminders, many of whom are small businesses.
2.17 Table 1 sets out the number of providers and provider representative bodies who responded to the 3 consultation exercises highlighted above.
Table 1: Responses to public consultation from provider and provider representative bodies
Early Learning and Childcare 1140 Hours Expansion – Programme of Trials:
Private providers: 13 responses
Voluntary providers: 2 responses
Registered childminders: 2 responses
Private provider representative/ membership bodies: 4 responses
A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland
Private providers: 33 responses
Voluntary providers: 6 responses
Private provider representative/ membership bodies: 5 responses
ELC Service models Consultation:
Private providers: 49 responses
Voluntary providers: 11 responses
Independent schools: 5 responses
Private provider representative/ membership bodies: 10 responses
2.18 The Scottish Government also regularly engages with providers and their representative bodies through formal meetings and forums. The ELC Partnership Forum, which met for the first time in October 2018, facilitates engagement between providers and local authorities. The Partnership Forum works to identify issues raised by providers and/ or authorities and seeks to propose solutions to these. The ELC Strategic Forum also provides an opportunity for the Scottish Government to engage with provider representative bodies - including the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), Early Years Scotland (EYS) and Care and Learning Alliance (CALA) – to develop and implement the Scottish Government’s vision for high-quality and flexible ELC in Scotland.