Publication - Research and analysis

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE PROVISION: INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF POLICY, DELIVERY AND FUNDING

Published: 29 Jun 2013
Part of:
Health and social care
ISBN:
9781782564164

This report provides an overview of the current situation regarding early childhood education and care provision in Scotland, England, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, France and the Netherlands.

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

Contents
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE PROVISION: INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF POLICY, DELIVERY AND FUNDING
2 Country Report: Scotland

164 page PDF

1.6 MB

2 Country Report: Scotland

2.1 Key findings

  • ECEC is integrated in terms of overall ministerial responsibility, but with different sub-departments for education and for childcare services. Not all early years services follow the educational framework. Education and regulation of childcare is a devolved matter. ECEC is not integrated with parental and other leave.
  • ECEC policy is split between the UK government and the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While Scotland has responsibility for the provision of education and social services, including early education and childcare, and aspects of workforce qualifications and development, the Westminster Government retains responsibility for other ECEC-related areas such as leave policies and the tax system.
  • Across the UK, public expenditure on social protection makes up 28% of GDP. In 2007, 3.6% of GDP was directed towards family benefits. 0.7% of GDP was spent on preschool education and 0.4% on childcare, for a total of about 1.1% of GDP.
  • With the transition to Universal Credit, the UK benefit system is currently undergoing a period of reform. From 2013, the Universal Credit will replace child tax credits and housing benefits previously available to families with children.
  • Parental leave in Scotland is unpaid.
  • Curriculum for Excellence is Scotland's integrated curriculum for children and young people age three to eighteen.
  • 96.1% of three to four year olds receive some free early education.
  • Early education and childcare in Scotland encompasses a wide range of services. Formal provision includes nurseries (day nurseries, nursery schools, nursery classes), playgroups, children or family centres and registered childminding. Many children are also looked after informally by grandparents, friends and neighbours, nannies or other home carers.
  • Childcare costs in Scotland are among the highest in Britain for part-time places; parents pay nearly as much as parents in Southern England, but on lower incomes.
  • Two separate agencies are responsible for the regulation and inspection of ECEC services in Scotland - Education Scotland for education services and the Care Inspectorate for childcare services.
  • ECEC is a mixed economy financed by the state (18%) and by private individuals (70%). Much childcare is provided informally.

2.2 Concepts and objectives guiding ECEC development

  • ECEC is integrated in terms of overall ministerial responsibility, but with different sub-departments for education and for childcare services. Not all early years services follow the educational framework. Education and regulation of childcare is a devolved matter. ECEC is not integrated with parental and other leave.

Since 2007, the Scottish Government has adopted an outcomes-centred approach to improvement in the delivery of public services through the National Performance Framework.[9] The Framework sets out overall objectives and outcomes to be achieved over a ten-year period, with progress measured by specific national indicators and targets. A key aspect of this national strategy is early intervention to promote children's development.

As outlined in the Early Years Framework, introduced in 2008, such intervention is expected to improve individual well-being and deliver wider social and economic benefits by combating inequality early on in life. The guiding principles for ECEC development as well as children's services more broadly are reflected in the Scottish Government publication Getting it Right for Every Child[10]. This policy document outlines a national vision for children's services based on the recognition of children's rights.

Employment legislation on maternity, paternity and parental leaves and other benefits and taxation are organised at the UK government level. As in England, growth in maternal employment in the 1980s and 1990s spurred the development of commercial forms of care services. Leave provision is not integrated with ECEC provision.

2.3 Socio-economic context

5.2 million people live in Scotland,[11] or roughly 8% of the UK population.[12] The Scottish population increased by almost 4% over the last ten years, largely due to immigration from overseas. Population density ranges widely from eight people per square kilometre in Eilean Siar to 3,412 people per square kilometre in Glasgow.[13]

In line with broader trends, the Scottish population has been aging and the median age is now 41.[14] In 2009 people age 65 and over made up 16.7% of the Scottish population, compared with 17.6% for the under-16s. For the UK, the proportions were 16.4% and 18.7% respectively.[15]

In 2011, Scotland's birth rate was 11.1 per thousand people, which was lower than other parts of the UK but higher than the EU average.[16] The total fertility rate was 1.77.[17] Nearly 6% of all live births were to women under 20 years of age in 2011.[18]

Lone parent families make up 6.6% of all households.[19] 15.3% of Scottish children lived in workless households in 2010, which was lower than other parts of the UK.[20] 13% of children lived in households with income below 60% of the median for at least three of the four years between 2005-2008.[21]

Box 2.1: Summary of key population statistics[22]

Total fertility rate: 1.77
Teenage births: 5.8%
Lone parent families: 6.6%
Children living in poverty: 13%
Children living in workless households: 15.3%

2.4 Employment patterns

Scotland's total employment rate for adults age 16-64 is 71.4%, 66.7% for women and 76.2% for men. The unemployment rate is 8.0% for those over 16 years of age.[23] In Scotland, 13% of employed men work part-time, while 43% of employed women do so. [24]

Box 2.2: Summary of employment statistics[25]

Total employment rate: 71.4%
Total unemployment rate: 8.0%
Women's employment rate: 66.7%
Men's employment rate: 76.2%
Employed women working part-time: 43%
Employed men working part-time: 13%
Mothers' employment rate: 59.4%[26]
Fathers' employment rate: 88%

Data on parental employment patterns is available at the UK level only (not separately for Scotland or England). Employment rates for mothers and fathers with a child under six were 59.4% and 88.0% respectively. Employment rates for mothers and fathers with a child age six to eleven are slightly higher: 71.9% and 89.5% respectively. 58% of mothers and 6-7% of fathers with children age eleven and under work part-time.

2.5 Welfare system and social support for families with children

Scotland has a GDP of £124 billion,[27] with services accounting for the majority of economic activity (74% in 2007).[28] In 2010-11, total public sector expenditure for Scotland was £63.8 billion, or 9.3% of UK public sector expenditure.[29]

In 2009-2010, 2.6 billion was spent on children and families (or £502 per head).[30] 7.7 billion was spent on education (£1,489 per head), of which 0.3 billion (£59 per head) was directed toward preschool education for children under five years.[31] Total annual expenditure on preschool by all local authorities in Scotland was about £318.3m in 2010/11.[32]

  • Across the UK, public expenditure on social protection makes up 28% of GDP.[33] In 2007 3.6% of GDP was directed toward family benefits.[34] 0.7% of GDP was spent on preschool education and 0.4% on childcare, for a total of about 1.1% of GDP.[35]

Box 2.3: Summary of public expenditure (Scotland)[36]

GDP: £124 billion
Total public sector expenditure: £63.8 billion
On children and families: £2.6 billion
On preschool education: £0.3 billion

UK-wide social security schemes include:

  • National Insurance, which provides cash benefits for sickness, unemployment, death of a partner, retirement, etc. People earn entitlement to these benefits by paying National Insurance contributions;
  • the National Health Service (NHS), which provides medical, dental and optical treatment and which is normally available free of charge only to people who live in Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
  • the child benefit and tax credit schemes, which provide cash benefits for people bringing up children;
  • non-contributory benefits for certain categories of disabled persons or carers;
  • other statutory payments made by employers to employees when a child is born or placed for adoption.

Families with children are generally eligible for Child Benefit. Child Benefit is currently £20.30 for the eldest child and a further £13.40 for each subsequent child per week. From January 2013, Child Benefit is being removed from higher rate tax payers (and their partners).

Child Tax Credit is an income-related payment to support families with one or more children under age 16, or up to age 20 if the child is in full-time education or training.

The childcare element of the Working Tax Credit provides a means-tested benefit for in-work families to offset the cost of purchasing childcare.

  • With the transition to Universal Credit, the UK benefit system is currently undergoing a period of reform. From 2013, the Universal Credit will replace child tax credits and housing benefits previously available to families with children.

2.6 Leave policies for families with small children[37]

2.6.1 Structure

There is no difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK regarding leave provision. Most leave policies have been introduced relatively recently in the UK. Provision is structured into maternity, paternity and parental leave.

  • Maternity leave is for 52 weeks, which can start from eleven weeks before the expected birth date. A mother can choose to return to employment from two weeks after childbirth. Up to ten 'keep in touch' days can be worked without affecting maternity leave or pay. After the first 20 weeks, the remaining maternity leave can be transferred to her partner (husband, partner, biological father, civil partner) if she returns to employment. The leave then becomes additional paternity leave and is for a minimum of two weeks and maximum of 26 weeks.
  • Paternity leave is for two weeks and must be taken within the first 56 days of the baby's birth.
  • Parental leave is available as an individual right (i.e. per parent per child), for 13 weeks up to the child's fifth birthday, with a maximum of four weeks leave to be taken in any one calendar year. It is unpaid.

2.6.2 Payment and funding

Statutory maternity leave is paid at 90% of a woman's average earnings for six weeks with no ceiling and a flat rate payment of either £135.45 or 90% of average gross weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for 33 weeks. The remaining 13 weeks are unpaid. Additional paternity leave is compensated according to the same formula. Paternity leave is a flat-rate payment as for maternity leave, funded in the same way.

Maternity and paternity leave is paid by employers who can then claim the money back from the taxation agency. It is financed by National Insurance Contributions from employers and employees.

  • Parental leave in Scotland is unpaid.

2.6.3 Role of employers

All employees who have worked for their employer continuously for 26 weeks, into the fifteenth week before the week the baby is due, are eligible for statutory maternity pay or additional paternity leave (APL), as outlined above. In addition, those on APL must have remained employed into the week before the leave is due to start.

Many employers make additional provisions that go beyond the statutory minimum for maternity leave. A minority of employers go beyond the statutory minimum for paternity leave. Employers may postpone granting parental leave for up to six months where leave-taking would cause significant disruption to the business.

Employers have a legal duty to consider requests from employees to work flexibly, and may refuse them only where there is a clear business case for doing so.

Employees may also take a "reasonable" amount of time off work to deal with emergencies.

2.6.4 Uptake of leave

Survey data from 2009/10 suggests that the mean length of maternity leave taken by women was 39 weeks in 2008. Less than half of mothers used the remaining period of unpaid leave. The same survey suggested that 91% of fathers took some time off around their baby's birth, though not all of these took statutory paternity leave.

There are no available statistics for take up of statutory parental leave or additional paternity leave.

2.7 National framework of ECEC

In the Scottish ECEC system provision for children from birth to five is not unified, with a differentiation between preschool education that focuses on three to five year olds and is usually delivered in public part-time settings, and childcare, particularly for the under-threes, that is predominantly provided by the private sector. There is no direct link between the universal preschool entitlement that starts the term following a child's third birthday and maternity and parental leave which ends after a year. The Scottish Government has undertaken a number of steps to improve and increase early education and childcare in Scotland. The Scottish Early Years Framework (2008) has introduced a strengthened focus on collaboration and partnership between providers, local government and families; and in 2010 an early years curriculum for the preschool level was introduced as part of the new Scottish curriculum, the Curriculum for Excellence.[38]The Curriculum for Excellence aims to provide an integrated education system from early years to age eighteen.

2.7.1 Governance

  • ECEC policy is split between the UK government and the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While Scotland has responsibility for the provision of education and social services, including early education and childcare, and aspects of workforce qualifications and development, the Westminster Government retains responsibility for other ECEC-related areas such as leave policies and the tax system.

Overall responsibility for Scottish education policy falls under the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. The Minister for Children and Young People oversees policy development for early education and childcare services, while the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages is responsible for the school curriculum (Curriculum for Excellence). There is a single Scottish Government Directorate for Learning with separate divisions for Learning, and for Children and Families.

Education Scotland, a newly formed executive agency, has taken over responsibilities previously held by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education and Learning and Teaching Scotland, such as the inspection of educational centres and the development of the curriculum.

At the local level, councils organise educational services and make decisions about how central government funding and local tax revenues are spent.[39]

2.7.2 Types of services

  • Early education and childcare in Scotland encompasses a wide range of services. Formal provision includes nurseries (day nurseries, nursery schools, nursery classes), playgroups, children or family centres and childminding. Many children are also looked after informally by grandparents, friends and neighbours, nannies or other home carers.

The term 'nursery' commonly used in Scotland encompasses a range of different types of services: private day nurseries are usually open full-time all year round, with the options for parents to purchase full-time or part-time childcare; there exist also local authority nurseries offering longer hours. Public nursery schools and nursery classes provide preschool education and tend to run on a part-time basis and follow the same academic year as the school system.

A funded preschool entitlement is available for all three and four year olds. It is generally delivered on a part-time basis of 2.5 hour sessions per day, morning or afternoon (12.5 hours/ week or 475 hours/ year) and is available in different types of settings: nurseries, playgroups or children's centres.[40] In settings where full-day provision is offered, the preschool entitlement can be combined with the purchasing of additional hours (usually on a full-day or half-day basis).

Box 2.4: Types of services[41]

Nurseries: centre-based care for children under 5 years which may be provided on a public or private basis (includes local authority nursery classes which are part-time day care services for 3 and 4 year olds in primary schools as well as nursery schools which are independent, often full-day centres)
Children/family centre: multi-purpose service centre for children and their families, including ECEC
Crèche: 'drop-in' care for children
Playgroup: sessional care for children under 5; often provided by parents or other community volunteers
Childminding: family day care for children of all ages
Home carers: family, friend, neighbour care; nannies
School-age childcare: out-of-school group-based care, including holiday play schemes and breakfast clubs

In 2011 there were a total of 10,159 active, registered ECEC service providers. The number of registered ECEC providers increased by 0.5% between 2010 and 2011 as a result of an increase in childminding services.[42]

The number of ECEC services varies across urban and rural areas. In general, remote areas had a larger number of services which served smaller numbers of children compared to urban areas.[43]

2.7.3 Public/private mix of provision

Of all formal ECEC service providers, including childminders, playgroups, out-of-school care, children/family centres and nurseries, the vast majority (70%) run on a commercial or for-profit basis, compared to 12% run on a private not-for-profit basis and 18% which are run publicly.[44]

Excluding childminders, nearly half of ECEC services are operated by local authorities (45%). This percentage has increased slightly since 2008. Commercially run services make up 29% of services (excluding childminders) and have also been increasing slightly since 2008. 27% are not-for-profit services, which have been on the decline.[45]

Of nurseries specifically, the majority are public (62%); 30% are for-profit and 8% non-profit.[46] 52% of nurseries in Scotland offer a part-time service only.[47]

Box 2.5: Public/private mix of services

Public Commercial Voluntary
All formal ECEC 18% 70% 12%
ECEC excluding childminders 45% 29% 27%
Nurseries 62% 30% 8%

Three and four year old Scottish children are currently entitled to at least 475 hours of preschool education per year, usually delivered as 12½ hours per week over the school year (38 weeks). These preschool places may be provided on a public, commercial or voluntary basis.

Local councils may directly provide preschool education through nursery classes within primary schools, nursery schools just for preschool age children or within children/family centres.

Through Childcare Partnerships, local councils may also commission private and voluntary centres to provide publicly funded preschool education places. Some councils also provide support for playgroups, run by parents or community volunteers.

Privately-run centres also offer ECEC independently, particularly for the children of working parents. In addition, some independent (private) schools run preschool education classes, and some employers offer day care facilities for the children of employees.[48]

The majority of preschool education (which follows the Curriculum for Excellence) is provided by local councils or funded through partnerships with private/voluntary providers. In 2011, of a total of 2,705 providers, 1,542 (57%) were managed by the local council and 1,011 (37%) were private/voluntary partnerships which offered places funded by the local council.[49]

2.7.4 Financing and costs

Almost all funding for the education system comes from the Scottish Government with expenditure administered by local authorities, although councils also raise some revenue for education. In 2010/11 (the most recent estimate) total annual expenditure on preschool by all local authorities in Scotland was about £318.3 million.[50]

Local authorities decide how the overall grant from the Scottish Government is spent, which may include funding their own preschool centres or commissioning places from private or voluntary centres. Some local authorities also provide free transport to facilitate access to ECEC in rural areas, although they are not required to do so.[51]

Public funding for ECEC is intended to ensure the provision of a free part-time preschool education for all three and four year olds as well as to assist local authorities with additional provision, such as services for children with particular need. Local authorities may charge reduced fees or provide free care for children on child protection registers, those with disabilities, or those whose families are on low incomes.[52]

Parents may also purchase ECEC from public, private or voluntary providers in addition to what is statutorily provided. While the education system is devolved entirely to the Scottish Government, the UK welfare system provides subsidies for ECEC through the tax system to families in all UK nations. Depending on household income, under the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit parents can claim up to 70% (previously 80%) of a maximum of £175 of childcare expenses per week for one child and £300 per week for two or more children. This means that the maximum amount of assistance a family with one child could receive per week is £122.50, while a family with two or more children could receive a maximum of £210 of assistance per week.[53]

The credit is calculated based on the overall amount of Working Tax Credit the family is entitled to and is reduced as income increases. Those working fewer than 16 hours per week are not eligible, although this will no longer be the case under the new Universal Credit. Given these restrictions, few people are able to take advantage of support through the tax credit, as those living on very low incomes often do not meet the working hours requirements and income support tapers off sharply after a household earns about £750 per week (gross income).[54]

Currently, benefit disregards (excluding childcare expenses from income for purposes of calculating Housing and Council Tax Benefit) are also in place to support very low income families. For 2011-2012 these disregards covered up to 85% of childcare costs for some very low income families. However, this will no longer be the case with the introduction of the Universal Credit.[55]

Employers may also offer their employees childcare vouchers in exchange for a reduction in tax liability through Income Tax and National Insurance contributions exemptions.[56] Until 2011, all parents were entitled to exemptions up to £55 per week, but this has been reduced for higher-rate taxpayers.[57]

  • Simulating childcare support through these benefits for a two-parent family with two children where one earner works full-time and the other part-time, the Social Market Foundation estimated that a low income family (earning between £15,000-37,000/year) could receive a total of £3,675 in 2011-2012, a middle income family (£42,000-63,000) £900, and a high income family (above £63,000) £600.[58]

UK-wide spending on ECEC is high - in 2007, the UK had the third highest spending (after Denmark and Sweden) on childcare and pre-primary education in the OECD at 1.1% of GDP.[59] Yet the cost of care to parents in the UK is high, particularly for very young children.

  • OECD estimates from 2008 suggest that net childcare costs (after benefits) make up 27% of family income.[60]

In the UK in 2011, direct public spending (excluding tax expenditure) accounted for 12% of the funding for the day nursery market, corporate funding through employer vouchers 29% (of which almost half is funded through employee salary sacrifice), and other spending (charity, grants) 2%. Private individual payments made up 57%, of which about 22% is estimated to be subsidised through tax expenditures.[61]

  • Childcare costs in Scotland are among the highest in Britain for part-time places; parents pay nearly as much as parents in Southern England, but on lower incomes.[62]

In particular, childminder costs for a child under two years and out-of-school club costs are higher than in England or Wales. From 2011-2012, childcare costs for childminders and for nursery care for under-twos increased, while costs for nursery care for two year olds and over and for out-of-school clubs decreased. The cost of a private or non-profit nursery is higher (by almost £25 per week for 25 hours of care) than that of a local authority nursery. Costs vary widely across the geographical regions of Scotland, and this variation is greater than in other parts of the UK.[63]

Box 2.6: Scottish ECEC costs - 25 hours per week[64]

Nursery (for under 2): £101.49
Nursery (for 2 and over): £94.52
Childminder (under 2): £93.10
Childminder (2 and over): £92.04
Out-of-school club (15 hours): £48.55

Nurseries often charge either a full- or half-day rate. Costs for a full-time nursery place (whole-day, five days per week) were lowest in Scotland (£152/week) compared to the rest of the UK (£169/week). Nursery fees are higher among for-profit providers (£176/week) than public and non-profit providers (£146 and £140 respectively) across the UK[65]

The cost of care for younger children, particularly under-twos, is higher due to restrictions on how many children a carer can look after at once. It has also been suggested that higher fees for under-twos are used to cover the costs of ECEC provision for older children, where subsidies do not fully cover the cost of providing these places. In a survey conducted by the National Day Nurseries Association, 72% of respondents reported that government funding does not cover the costs of an ECEC place.[66]

2.8 Access levels and patterns of use

Children in the three to four year age range are most likely to be in some form of non-school formal ECEC, due to the entitlement to early years education. 96.1% of three to four year olds receive some free early education.[67] Children under one year are least likely to receive formal ECEC, which is likely due to the provision of maternity leave.

  • The most common type of formal provision is centre-based nursery care, particularly for preschool age children.

Table 2.1: Percentage of all children 0-15 registered in formal ECEC services, by age group

Under 1 year 1 year 2-3 years 4-5 years All 0-5 years 6 years 7-11 years 12-15 years All children
Childminder 1.6 6.5 7.0 5.7 5.6 4.5 2.8 0.2 3.3
Children/Family Centre 0.8 1.8 3.8 2.5 2.6 0.4 0.2 0.1 1.1
Crèche 2.6 3.9 5.1 5.2 4.5 3.2 0.9 0.1 2.2
Holiday play scheme 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.1 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.3
Nursery 4.9 20.8 49.2 51.6 37.8 2.1 1.1 0.1 15.2
Out-of-school club 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.5 1.8 12.1 9.9 0.6 4.5
Playgroup 0.3 0.3 6.8 1.5 2.9 0.1 0.1 0.0 1.1
Other 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.1 0.2
All services 10.2 33.5 72.2 72.7 55.5 23.3 15.5 1.6 28.0
All excluding childminding 8.6 26.9 65.3 67.0 49.9 18.7 12.7 1.4 24.7

Source: Care Inspectorate, Childcare Statistics 2011, 2012.

Note: These figures do not include children attending primary school. The percentage for 4-5 year olds, for example, will reflect the fact that many children of this age group are in school rather than an ECEC service.

  • The use of informal care, particularly care by grandparents is widespread.

Such care is especially common among lone parents and families on low incomes. Almost a third of Scottish families use multiple care arrangements.[68]

Older children, disabled children, children who live in rural areas and whose parents work atypical hours are all more likely to face issues of accessibility to care services.[69]

ECEC provision for vulnerable two year olds has recently been expanded so that looked after two year olds could receive free early education and childcare provision (since April 2012).[70]

2.9 System of quality assurance in ECEC

2.9.1 Inspection, monitoring and quality assurance

Inspection

  • Two separate agencies are responsible for the regulation and inspection of ECEC services in Scotland - Education Scotland for education services and the Care Inspectorate for childcare services.

Education Scotland inspects education services, including voluntary and private preschool centres, nursery schools and family centres and nursery classes within schools, which provide the Curriculum for Excellence. Following an inspection, Education Scotland publishes a letter to parents reporting the quality of education provision within the centre.[71]

The Care Inspectorate is responsible for the regulation of a wide range of care and social work services, including childcare. These services are inspected to ensure that they follow the National Care Standards. The National Care Standards specify required staff-child ratios.

Table 2.2 Staff: Child ratios

For care on non-domestic premises (e.g. centre-based care)
Under 2s 1:3
2s 1:5
3 and over* 1:8
8 or over 1:10
For care on domestic premises (e.g. childminders)
Under 12 years** 1:6

Source: National Care Standards, Early education and childcare up to the age of 16. Annex A, 2012.

*For children 3 and over attending for less than 4 continuous hours, the ratio may be 1:10.

**No more than 3 children may be under school-age, no more than 1 child may be under 1 year, including the childminder's children.

National curriculum

  • Curriculum for Excellence is Scotland's curriculum for children and young people age three to 18.

Preschool establishments and schools have been implementing the Curriculum for Excellence from 2010/11. Although there is no curriculum for children below three years per se, 'Pre-Birth to Three: Positive Outcomes for Scotland's Children and Families' provides further guidance for those working with younger children.[72]

Curriculum for Excellence is designed to develop four 'capacities' in young people: becoming successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. Children are expected to achieve Experiences and Outcomes in eight areas:

  • Expressive Arts
  • Languages and Literacy
  • Religious and Moral Education
  • Social Studies
  • Mathematics and Numeracy
  • Sciences
  • Technologies
  • Health and Well-being

These Experiences and Outcomes are presented within a framework of levels for different ages, with the early level spanning both preschool and early primary school for children age three to six. 'Building the Curriculum 2 - Active Learning in the Early Years' (2007) sets out the principles for early education within the Curriculum for Excellence. The early level is intended to promote similar types of learning and encourage continuity during the transition to school. The emphasis is on 'active learning' through play and life experiences. Each preschool establishment/school is responsible for deciding how much time is devoted to each of the different curriculum areas, in line with local authority guidance. Preschool staff are increasingly providing written reports for parents and primary schools regarding each child's progress.[73]

2.9.2 Workforce qualifications

Similar to other areas of the UK, the Scottish ECEC workforce is split according to whether the workers provide education or care services. Those working within early education are considered teachers and usually have higher level qualifications, and better pay and working conditions, whereas carers tend to have lower level qualifications, and worse pay and working conditions.

As in most countries, workers in early education and childcare in Scotland are overwhelmingly female. 93% of preschool teachers, 95% of preschool education and day care staff and 99% of childminders are women.[74]

Teachers are required to register with the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS). They must be university graduates with a relevant degree and a teaching qualification at Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF) 9 or higher. Once registered, all GTCS primary teachers are qualified to teach children between the ages of three to twelve.

In 2012, 65% of three and four year old children who attended a preschool centre across Scotland had regular access to a GTCS registered teacher with an additional 9.7% having access to a teacher on an ad hoc basis.[75]

Non-teachers in early years settings must register with the Scottish Social Services Council, which distinguishes three categories of worker: 'support worker' (e.g. nursery assistants, breakfast club assistants), 'practitioner' (e.g. nursery nurses), and 'lead practitioner/manager' who manage settings. All early years staff are required to possess or be working toward a relevant qualification; however, few early years workers have university degrees and many do not have childcare qualifications above Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) Level 3 in Early Years Care and Education (practitioner level). Managers, who are not qualified teachers, working in children's centres are required to attain degree level Childhood Practice qualifications. Childminders must register with the Care Inspectorate and are not required to hold specific qualifications.[76]

Table 2.3: Qualifications of the ECEC workforce

Preschool education and
day care staff
Childminders
Any childcare qualification 84% 34%
Any childcare qualification at SVQ2 or above 82% 32%
Any childcare qualification at SVQ3 or above 74% 27%

Source: Scottish Government. 'Preschool and Childcare Statistics 2010.'

Teachers' salaries are negotiated through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) so teachers have very standardised forms of pay and working conditions compared to other workers in early years settings and generally receive higher wages.[77]

The median hourly pay for childcare workers employed by the local authority or voluntary sector was £6 in 2005.[78] The median hourly pay for childcare workers employed in the private sector was slightly higher at £7.

2.10 Historical overview of ECEC policy[79]

1976 Statutory maternity leave of 40 weeks introduced in UK

1989 Children Act reforms registration of childcare services

1995 Children Act places a duty on local authorities to provide services for children in need

1997 Labour elected to the UK government; ECEC becomes a policy priority

1998 Scotland Act establishes Scottish Parliament and Executive; Scottish Child Care Strategy introduced; UK-wide childcare tax credit introduced

1999 Introduction of unpaid parental leave and time off for dependants

1999 Scottish Parliament opened; Minister for Education & Children established

2000 Standards in Scotland's Schools Act places a duty on local authorities to secure a preschool education place for all three and four-year-olds

2001 Regulation of Care Act establishes the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care

2003 Introduction of paternity leave and the right to request flexible working

2004 Additional Support for Learning (ASL|ASL) Act 2004

2008 Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) publish joint Early Years Framework; Publication of Getting it Right for Every Child

2008 Additional Support for Learning (ASL|ASL) Act 2008

2010 Public Service Reform Act replaces the Care Commission with the Care Inspectorate

2010 Curriculum for Excellence introduced

2011 Introduction of additional paternity leave and pay

2.11 Conclusion

The Scottish ECEC system is integrated in terms of governance, but it is a split system on the level of service provision. There is a policy division between the educational and childcare service aspects of ECEC. The part-time nature of the largely publicly provided educational provision presumes privately arranged childcare in addition, should more than one of the parents be employed. In sum, for the early years, parental care followed by informal care can be said to be the predominant forms of childcare in Scotland, supplemented by private (for-profit and voluntary) and public formal childcare.

ECEC provision is a mixed economy in Scotland including public and private funding and provision, but with a strong dominance of private for-profit providers. Public expenditure on ECEC is high, as are ECEC costs to private individuals, relative to other EU countries.

In 2013 a new Children and Young People bill is to be introduced, which aims to improve the availability of ECEC. Part of the bill is a proposal to increase the number of funded preschool hours from 475 to 600 hours of early learning and childcare per year and to extend provision to looked-after two year olds.


Contact

Email: Gita Anand