Consultation on Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance - Overview
This consultation sets out updated Statutory Guidance to education authorities to support them in exercising their functions in relation to the delivery of early learning and childcare from 1 August 2020. Statutory Guidance was previously published in 2014 to support the implementation of the changes relating to Early Learning and Childcare made by way of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”).
Since 2014 there have been substantial changes in the overarching policy and legislative framework for the delivery of early learning and childcare, in particular with the commitment to almost doubling the funded early learning and childcare entitlement for eligible children from 600 hours to 1140 hours from August 2020. The legislative changes required ahead of August 2020 – to increase the statutory funded early learning and childcare entitlement, and changes to the length of a funded early learning and childcare session - were agreed by the Scottish Parliament during 2019.
One of the key changes to the policy framework is the introduction of Funding Follows the Child in August 2020. This provider neutral approach is underpinned by a National Standard that all providers wishing to offer the funded early learning and childcare entitlement will have to meet. Funding Follows the Child was developed through the Scottish Government, COSLA and education authorities working in partnership, including through a joint Scottish Government and COSLA consultation.
The Statutory Guidance has been updated to reflect the new policy framework. We have also taken the opportunity, drawing on feedback from stakeholders, to refresh the document to ensure that it is clear and readable and to improve clarity on specific points. We are grateful for their contributions so far and look forward to further contributions through the consultation process.
We do anticipate further changes in future to the eligibility criteria for funded early learning and childcare for children whose entry to school is deferred for a year. However, the guidance as updated in this document, reflects the current legislation. The guidance will be updated in the future to reflect any future legislative changes.
It has been our intention to make the guidance as useful as possible, focussed on supporting education authorities to implement their functions in the delivery of early learning and childcare.
We also want to ensure that everyone involved in early learning and childcare can provide their views before the guidance is finalised. That is why we are now consulting on the updated Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance and would welcome your views on the following questions:
1 (a) Does the Guidance help your understanding of the legislation relating to education authorities’ functions in the delivery of early learning and childcare?
(b) Are there any specific aspects of the early learning and childcare legislative framework that remain unclear after reading the Guidance?
2 (a) Do you find the Guidance clear and readable?
(b) Are there any specific areas of the Guidance where we could improve readability?
3 Do you have any other comments on the Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance for education authorities?
The consultation will run until 4 March 2020, and you can submit your responses at: https://consult.gov.scot/children-and-families/early-learning-and-childcare-statutory-guidance/.
Following consideration of the responses to the consultation, which will include an independent analysis of the responses, the final version of the Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance will be published in May 2020 and come into force from 1 August 2020