- 22 Mar 2021
Attendees and apologies
- Maree Todd, Minister for CYP
- Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Spokesperson CYP (Chair)
- Alison Cumming, SG Interim Director of ELC Programme
- Eddie Folan, Chief Officer Children and Young People
- Roy Brannen, Chief Executive Transport Scotland
- Simon Mair, SG Head of Delivery Assurance
- Laura Mason, Chief Education Officer, West Dunbartonshire Council, ADES
- Gary Fairley, Midlothian, Representing Directors of Finance
- Matthew Sweeney, COSLA
- Adam Hall, Improvement Service
- Alastair Young, Scottish Futures Trust
- Ellen Leaver, ELC Unit Head, Scottish Government
- Leona Devlin, ELC Delivery Assurance Officer, Scottish Government
- Sheree McAlpine, Communications and Engagement Manager, Scottish Government
- Andrew Kent, ELC Project Management Office, Scottish Government
- Karen Reid, Perth and Kinross Council, SOLACE
- Hannah Keates, ELC Team Leader, Scottish Government
Items and actions
1. Welcome and introductions
Chair welcomed members to the meeting.
2. Review minutes
The minutes from the previous meeting (017) were approved by the Board.
3. ELC Capability Readiness Review
Alison Cumming welcomed the ELC Capability Readiness Review report. It was noted that this report is an evidence-based snapshot of the project's status at the time of the health check. It reflects the views of the independent review team, based on information evaluated during one day of interviews, and is delivered to the SRO immediately at the conclusion of the review.
The health check finds that the Early Learning and Childcare Expansion programme is making good progress, despite the impact of the Covid pandemic. The programme team have developed an effective working relationship with local authorities and we have been given a real sense of partnership around delivery of a successful outcome. A decision is imminent on when the legislation for 1140 hours will be implemented. Before that decision is taken, a shared description of what successful delivery on the set date means should be established, so that all stakeholders’ efforts can be aligned.
The programme now needs to establish a shared description of successful delivery, clarified roles and responsibilities of stakeholders at the Joint Delivery Board, and a simplified data collection and presentation approach. In this short health check, the review found that most interviewees were working towards delivery in August 2021. Although local authorities are making 1140 hours available on a rolling basis, it does not appear feasible to that full coverage will be in place before August 2021.
Key points of discussion:
- the Board welcomed this review, noting it provides a clear idea of the requirements between now and reinstatement date.
- an Action Plan is required for the next steps of taking these recommendations forward
- the review was valuable and it’s important to get a sense check from an external body.
- the Board noted the recommendations of the review.
- Scottish Government will circulate a timeline and action plan to be agreed by correspondence
4. Delivery Risk Profile
Simon Mair introduced the Delivery Risk Profile. This document contains an in depth articulation of the key risks to delivery of the Early Learning and Childcare Expansion Programme. The risks have been identified by the Delivery Assurance Team (DAT) and are based upon information collated from Local Authorities (LAs) through data returns and direct engagement as well as engagement with the 9 national projects within the programme.
The officials board members provided challenge and scrutiny towards risks and this was a useful process. This profile supports confidence of delivery and allows the Delivery Assurance Team to monitor areas and provide support. Overall, there are no risks which would be a barrier to 1140 delivery from a singular local authority.
Key points from discussion:
- the Board emphasised the confidence this risk profile provides to the programme due to the detail and understanding
- this paper helps indicate the amount of work still to be done prior to full 1140 delivery.
The board were happy with this paper.
5. Assessment of Readiness
Simon Mair introduced the Assessment Readiness report. This discusses the delivery readiness of the 1140 expansion programme and identifies the factors impacting on local authorities’ ability to fully roll out 1140 hours expanded entitlement to all eligible children; and recommends a revised effective date for the legal duty on local authorities to deliver 1140 hours entitlement.
It was noted that Local Authorities are well advanced in many areas, and that this is a reflection of the commitment and hard work of local teams. The paper considers a number of factors across the programme and find that there is no evidence to support a date lated than August 2021, and that there is reason to believe this is deliverable. The paper notes that evidence from the readiness assessment and the independent review shows that delivery earlier than August 2021 would be challenging, and that there would be no evidence to support earlier implementation.
The proposed next steps moving forward will be working jointly with colleagues in Local Government, ADES and COSLA in the 1140 Delivery Steering Group, to take a Case Conference approach of each individual local authority to understand the barriers and risks in more detail. A proposal for data collection will be presented by correspondence or at the next meeting.
Key points of discussion:
- the Board were thankful for the detail in the paper includes, which a support confidence in the delivery date, and reflect the commitment and effort of everyone involved in the expiation.
- August 2021 is the correct date to aim for. However it was noted that where is possible to deliver expansion earlier, this should be offered to families.
- it is very heartening to see 90% of the workforce in place for the programme
- the paper contains a good and accurate summary for the actions going forward, which will be a good approach for the 1140 Delivery Steering group.
- the programme demonstrates a strong partnership working between Government and Local Government.
- Care Inspectorate noted that they are starting to commence inspections again which is helping giving a sense of quality within settings, and would be happy to give the Board a full update at the next meeting
- SRO intends to send a note to local authority teams ahead of the festive break giving them thanks and appreciation to get to the point of readiness during the current pandemic.
Accepting the recommendation in the paper, the board agreed:
- recommend to Ministers and Leaders a reinstatement date of August 2021, with legislation to laid in this Parliament;
- agree a shared commitment that where there is potential to deliver expanded hours ahead of that date, this will be delivered to families.
- agree a defined objective that “That all eligible children whose families wish to access up to 1140 hours should be able to do so, in a way which meets the national standard”;
- ask officers and officials to work together to identify any areas of the national standard that may need considered in the light of ongoing COVID impacts, and provide advice to a future meeting;
- ask officers and official to work together through the delivery steering group to identify and progress specific actions to reduce and resolve these thematic barriers at a national level, and to direct local and specific support where required by local authorities; and
- ask officers and officials to propose a data collection and reporting approach to enable ‘at a glance’ review of progress towards the agreed delivery goal.
- COSLA leaders and Ministers will consider the recommendation of reinstatement of the duty in August 2021
- COSLA and SG will work jointly on communication of the date. It was noted that the board wished to recognise and the amount of commitment and effort show by local teams and partners.
The board agreed that the frequency of meetings would increase, with officials meetings taking place more regularly, and Ministerial/Councillor meetings convened as appropriate.