Early learning and childcare expansion: trials

A summary of the trials underway to test different delivery models for expanding free early learning and childcare to 1,140 hours.


This trial looks at the conversion of a small nursery class south of Forfar to focus on outdoor learning and increasing the capacity of the nursery. It will see provision move from part-time to a full-day model, within the school day (9am to 3pm). Linked childminders will be providing before and after-care if needed. It will feature community consultation to support development of the project.

Argyll and Bute

Working with existing provision on Mull and Tiree, this trial will extend part-time provision to full-day ELC for two to five-year-olds. Additional hours will be made available through local childminders. Working with Mull and Iona Community Trust, this project will develop holiday care operating from the Tobermory Pre-five Unit.

Dumfries amd Galloway

This trial will extend current term-time ELC provision to full-day, all-year-round provision. A partner-provider setting will provide greater flexibility for parents. Further flexibility will be provided by childminders, who will be commissioned to provide additional hours in a combined model where that is needed.


This innovative project will trial combined ELC provision, which will utilise childminders, for eligible two-year-olds. It specifically targets children at risk of being placed on the child protection register or who are newly placed on the register, and will be developing holistic referral and monitoring processes for those children.

East Ayrshire

This trial builds on an existing community childminding model and will provide combined ELC provision with childminders for eligible two-year-olds. Childminders will be linked to local nurseries to maintain consistency for children.

Eilean Siar

This project will trial extending morning-only, term-time nursery provision to full-day, year-round provision for two to five-year-olds. The extended provision will be integrated with out-of-school care to meet whole family needs and improve sustainability in a remote and rural community. It also plans to develop the provision of parenting support alongside the ELC, all in one place.


Glasgow will be trialling a new staffing model to increase flexible access at the Tower View Nursery. This project, in an area of high deprivation, will provide a blended model of provision with childminders working with the nursery to provide part of the child's ELC experience. The learning from this trial will inform planning for the Glasgow Childcare Public Social Partnership.


This trial will extend the existing Midlothian family learning centre approach, from Woodburn to Gorebridge and Mayfield. It employs local childminders and brings together services for under sixes and out-of-school care, with plans to also bring in health and family support services in the area.

North Ayrshire

This project is focused on Irvine, in an area of high deprivation and links provision of ELC to local employability services aimed at helping parents to access employment, training or education. It uses a customised model of ELC to suit individual family needs, and parents will be able to choose from the local authority nursery, registered childminders, local private partner nursery, or a combination of any of these services.


This project features a community consultation on a flexible model of ELC provision. It will increase hours within an ELC setting to full-day provision. It will also establish commissioning arrangements with private providers and childminders.

South Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire's trial features a combined model of ELC provision, with registered childminders working with Larkhall Children's Centre. Focussed in an area of high deprivation, childminders will be used to support parents in outlying communities, including programmed participation of children and childminders in the nursery, time spent by the child at the nursery, and time spent by the child at the childminder's home.


This project, put forward by Aberdeen City Council and Early Years Scotland, is to trial a new and innovative approach to providing ELC for eligible two-year-olds. The trial will be based on the existing model of Stay and Play delivered by Early Years Scotland, which is built on parental engagement being pivotal to achieving positive outcomes for children, especially for children and families experiencing disadvantages. Unlike existing services for vulnerable two year olds, where a general period of settling in is planned, the model offers parents the opportunity to stay and play.

Scottish Borders

This trial will offer additional hours to children accessing ELC in Selkirk. It builds on existing provision where some wraparound exists but parents are required to pay. The trial will offer an increase in the number of hours of ELC provided Monday to Friday during term time and ELC provision will be offered during holiday periods to meet parental demand. The trial will also explore how ELC can be delivered holistically and integrated with other services, including the out-of-school club and the Early Years Centre.


This project will look to extend two nursery settings within Edinburgh through the establishment of outdoor nursery provision through a nature kindergarten. The trials will be targeted at nurseries in areas of high deprivation, with around 10 to 12 children in each setting receiving the additional hours. Additional hours will be offered to pre-school children (four-year-olds) minimising disruption on conclusion of the trial.

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