Early Learning and Childcare Joint Delivery Board minutes: March 2022

Minutes of the meeting of the group on 30 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Haughey, Minister for Children and Young People (Co-Chair)
  • Stephen McCabe, COSLA Spokesperson for Children and Young People (Co-Chair)
  • Alison Cumming, Director, Early Learning and Childcare, SG
  • Eleanor Passmore, Deputy Director, Early Learning and Childcare, Scottish Government
  • Matthew Farrell, Head of Strategy, Finance and Performance ELC, Scottish Government
  • Laura Mason, Chief Education Officer at West Dunbartonshire Council, ADES
  • Des Murray, Chief Executive, North Lanarkshire Council, SOLACE
  • Gary Fairley, Director of Finance, Midlothian Council
  • Edith Macintosh, Interim Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Laura Caven, Chief Officer, Children and Young People, COSLA
  • Matthew Sweeney, Policy Manager, Children and Young People, COSLA

Additional attendees

  • Adam Hall, Improvement Service
  • Clare Furze, ELC Unit Head, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Burke, ELC Delivery Assurance, Scottish Government
  • Leona Devlin, ELC Delivery Assurance, Scottish Government
  • Emma Hall, ELC Delivery Assurance, Scottish Government
  • Vikki Bruce, Head of ELC Quality and Recovery Unit, Scottish Government


  • Chris Dunne, Head of Operations and Assurance, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Note: Ms Haughey, Minister for Children and Young People, was delayed at a prior engagement and arrived after the start of the meeting. In Ms Haughey’s absence, the agenda order was changed and some agenda items were chaired by Alison Cumming, Director, Early Learning and Childcare.

Welcome and introductions

This item was chaired by Alison Cumming.

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting. Particularly new members including Des Murray, Chief Executive of North Lanarkshire Council, who is representing SOLACE, and Edith Macintosh, who is the Interim Chief Executive for the Care Inspectorate. The Chair also welcomed Laura Caven from CoSLA to her first ministerial meeting.

The Chair took the time to thank members who had moved on from their roles and stepping down from the Board. These included Margo Williamson on behalf of SOLACE, Peter Macleod from the Care Inspectorate, Roy Brannen, Chief Executive of Transport Scotland, our non-executive member, and Ann Jacob-Chandler from the Scottish Futures Trust.

The Chair also introduced the new members within Scottish Government, Matthew Farrell who has taken over as the new Head of Strategy, Finance and Performance in Early Learning and Childcare, and Vikki Bruce who is the Head of the Early Learning and Childcare Quality and Recovery Unit.

Introduction and matters arising

This item was chaired by Alison Cumming.

The minutes of the previous meeting (28 September 2022) were agreed by the group.

Under matters arising, the actions from the previous meeting were discussed with updates provided to the group:

  • action: Scottish Government Officials to set up discussion with CoSLA, ADES and SOLACE on 1140 Lessons Learned exercise – this work is ongoing 

  • action: It was agreed that Scottish Government and CoSLA Officials would meet to discuss SEEMiS in more detail – this was completed in December and the SEEMiS programme has now been delayed – an update on SEEMiS Early Years will be provided under item 3 

Update on SEEMiS Early Years

In Chris Dunne’s absence, Alison Cumming provided the Board with an update on the developments of the SEEMiS Early Years project. The Joint Delivery Board does not have a formal role in the Governance of the SEEMiS project, however the majority of funding is supplied by the Scottish Government. Tony McDaid from South Lanarkshire Council is the Product Sponsor for the programme.

The SEEMiS project has been delayed due to supplier termination of contract with the main supplier developer. The project now has a new supplier and is working through a Discovery phase, which is expected to conclude in April 2022. This will hopefully provide a new delivery date. There are currently workarounds in place for local authority allocations, however it’s important to realise the impact this may have on being able to evaluate the delivery of 1140 due to the lack of child-led data.

The Scottish Government will continue to monitor the SEEMiS Early Years project and its progress.

Improvement Service Data Collection and Delivery Update

This item was chaired by Alison Cumming.

Improvement Service Data Collection

Adam Hall from the Improvement Service presented the outcome from the latest data collection on the status of Early Learning and Childcare Delivery for January 2022. This included:

  • data returned by local authorities indicates that 111,574 children were accessing funded Early Learning and Childcare as of the end of January 2022 
  • of these, 97% were accessing more than 600 hours, and 88% were accessing the full 1140 hours funded Early Learning and Childcare
  • every council reported an increase between 6% and 26% in numbers of two to five year olds accessing funded Early Learning and Childcare compared to August 2021
  • there has been an increase of 16% in the numbers of eligible 2s accessing funded Early Learning and Childcare, rising from 5,966 children in August 2021 to 6,913 in January 2022 
  • there has been an increase in the local authority Early Learning and Childcare workforce of 549 FTE rising from 17,515 FTE in August 2021 to 18,064 FTE in January 2022 
  • further workforce increases are expected, with a further 593 FTE expected to be in place in April 2022 
  • funded providers in the private and voluntary sectors and childminders provide 31% of all funded provision 
  • as of February 2022, there were 913 projects in the capital programme, 85% of which are now complete 

Key points made by the Board were:

  • really positive figures outlined in this report, particularly around the two year old uptake thanks to encouraging work by local authorities
  • a query was asked around capturing data on why families might not take up the full allocation which they are entitled to – Improvement Service don’t collect data for this, but some comments left in the survey comments box suggest that parental choice is a factor. However, the Scottish Government is planning a national survey in May which will help provide an up to date picture at a National level about how parents feel about their 1140 offer and delivery
  • this data is really important and continues to be positive – we’re less than a year into the delivery of 1140 and still seeing the impacts of the pandemic on the sector, on families and on uptake. It’s important that we can continue to collect this useful data until SEEMiS is ready to do so
  • a question was raised around the infrastructure figures and how many capital projects are still required for 1140

Action – Scottish Futures Trust to provide up to date figures on infrastructure and attend the next 1140 governance meeting. 

The Board members formally agreed that the Scottish Government will continue to commission the Improvement Service to collect progress data from Local Authorities beyond this financial year. The Improvement Service will engage with partners to discuss a sustainable and proportionate approach.

The Board agreed to the publication of the Improvement Service Early Learning and Childcare Delivery Progress report.

Delivery Risk Paper – CoSLA

Matthew Sweeney presented the paper on Delivery Risks (054) provided by CoSLA. This paper contained an overview prepared by CoSLA and ADES of reported and potential impacts to 1140 delivery following the 2022 to 2023 Early Learning and Childcare funding settlement. 

Further points were raised by members of the Board in discussion:

  • the process used through the Finance Working Group to review capacity in the 1140 Budget was discussed. It was noted that this was a robust process and the subsequent reduction in quantum was less than half of what the modelling suggested could be accommodated. However, it was also argued by some Board members that reducing or increasing funding on the basis of local authority population figures did not necessarily recognise the reality of the circumstances of individual settings, and that a drop in numbers of eligible children nationally does not directly correspond to the ability of services to release capacity because of fixed staffing ratios and overhead costs
  • it was also noted that other factors, including local budgetary decisions, the change in distribution methodology and increases in inflation, have also contributed to the pressure on delivery felt by some Early Learning and Childcare services

Ms Haughey noted that there was some divergence between the Scottish Government’s view based on the Finance Working Group’s analysis and how this paper characterises the financial position. She reiterated that the Scottish Government remains keen to understand and keep a close eye on any delivery issues as they arise in the 2022-23 financial year, based on the best available evidence.

Key points made by the Board:

  • national budgets are based on aggregate information but individual Early Learning and Childcare services will reflect local needs, costs and circumstances
  • it will be important to take account of inflationary impacts in budget setting for 2023 to 2024
  • board members are happy for the Finance Working Group to continue to support the financial planning of 1140 delivery activity
  • board members were grateful for the paper setting out potential future challenges that local government may face, and keen to ensure that future discussions about delivery impacts are informed by robust evidence

Action: CoSLA agreed to bring forward further evidence on delivery risk in their discussions with Scottish Government officials, and to escalate issues to future meetings of the Board as necessary. 

National Standard Implementation and Improvement Support

Clare Furze and Vikki Bruce presented paper 055 – Implementation of the National Standard and Funding Follows the Child – which set out the proposed implementation timetable and provided an update on the package of quality improvement support that will be available to providers throughout the pre-implementation period.

The Chair invited Edith Macintosh to comment further on improvement support. Edith Macintosh highlighted that the Care Inspectorate’s consultation on their new framework received positive feedback from the Early Learning and Childcare Sector, and that resources will be made available to support staff in all roles to understand what quality looks like and how to deliver improvement. The Care Inspectorate’s support for a joint inspection framework and commitment to working with colleagues throughout the forthcoming consultation on Early Learning and Childcare inspection reform was also highlighted.

The Board agreed the proposed implementation timetable and improvement support package and noted that Board members will have early sight of the Scottish Government’s forthcoming inspection on Early Learning and Childcare inspection before it is published in the summer.

Spending Review and Outcomes Framework

Due to timing, the Chair invited comments on this item via correspondence.

Future Governance for 1140

The Chair invited Eleanor Passmore to discuss the Future Governance for 1140 (paper 056) and the recognition that we are moving into a different phase of delivery. This paper sets out what a move to a steady state would look like.

Our proposed approach to new governance arrangements is based on three principles:

  • a continued commitment to close partnership working between the Scottish Government and Local Government partners
  • that political oversight and accountability for ‘core delivery’ decisions are channelled through existing governance routes e.g. ministerial advice and CoSLA’s governance arrangements
  • a light touch approach to governance and reporting that strikes the right balance between providing an appropriate level of oversight of the 1140 programme and the delivery of constituent project outputs without creating un-necessary burdens, and which allows us to be responsive to the needs of the sector and able to act swiftly to address issues and delivery risks

It was agreed that a decision would be reached at official level through a newly constituted Joint Delivery Board. Any arising issues that require political engagement and decision making will be raised through the usual networks or through bi-lateral engagement between the new CoSLA Spokesperson for Children and Young People and Ms Haughey.

Action: The Board were supportive of these proposals, which will now need agreement from members of the Children and Young People’s Board. Scottish Government and CoSLA to take this forward.

Any Other Business

Under Any Other Business, Ms Haughey thanked Councillor McCabe for his contribution to the Board and to the legacy of the successful delivery of 1140 hours of funded Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland. 

Cllr McCabe also thanked Ms Haughey, the Joint Delivery Board partners, other Ministers and Scottish Government Officials and CoSLA and local government officers that he has worked with during his time in this position.

The Chair thanked attendees and closed the meeting.

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