Attendees and apologies
- Maree Todd, Minister for CYP (Co-Chair)
- Joe Griffin, SG Director of ELC Programme (SRO)
- Heather Adams, Improvement Service
- Gemma Boggs, Scottish Futures Trust
- Roy Brannen, Non-Executive Member
- Alison Cumming, SG Deputy Director of ELC Programme
- Nicola Dickie, COSLA Chief Officer CYP
- Chris Dunne, SG ELC Programme Manager
- Laura Friel, Directors of Finance
- Laura Mason, ADES
- Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Spokesperson for CYP (Co-chair)
- Angela Leitch, SOLACE
- John Nicholson, SG Finance
- Sarah Duncan, SG ELC Programme
Items and actions
Welcome and introductions
Chair welcomed members and introductions were made. Thanks were noted to Kidstore Childcare for providing a tour of their setting before the meeting and North Lanarkshire Council for providing a meeting venue.
Review minutes and open actions from previous meetings
The minutes of the meeting held on 31 October were approved. It was confirmed that Action 02/01 for Improvement Service to request outstanding forecast data by early January was complete and would be covered under agenda item 3. It was confirmed that Action 02/02 for SG and COSLA officials to coordinate the narrative to be published alongside the aggregated national data was complete with the report being published on 19 December. There were no further open actions.
ELC progress reporting
Review of ELC Programme key milestone tracker
Alison Cumming provided an overview of progress across the national projects, noting that there were ongoing delays in filling Additional Graduate posts. A summit had been held in late January to bring together local authority colleagues responsible for recruiting to the posts and had provided insight into views of the initiative, options for helping with recruitment challenges and how to maximise the impact of the additional graduates once in post. It had been decided to rebrand and rename the posts to improve awareness of the initiative within the sector and communicate this widely.
Review of LA Trajectories data
Heather Adams provided a summary of the forecast data collected, noting the following key points:
- the report was based on trajectories up to April 2021 for 31 local authorities although the final return had since been received and would be included in future reporting
- a significant level of activity was planned to be carried out during Period 5 (May to September 2020), with a spike across all indicators
- planned activity forecast 50% of total planned increase in workforce, 40% of total planned increase in capacity, 40% of total planned increase in 2 year uptake and one third of total planned increase in 3-5 year old uptake was to be in place by the end of Period 3 (September 2019)
Gemma Boggs provided an overview of infrastructure data collected by data collected by Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) from local authorities, noting the following key points:
- 9% of the forecast required additional capacity had been delivered and 72% was due to be in place by August 2020
- 85% of projects had not yet started and 31% did not have an agreed completion date
- SFT were aiming to target support at those authorities who needed it most, however they would continue to respond to requests to help other authorities
- the data would continue to be challenged, design and procurement information shared and alternative options suggested where there was a risk of delays affecting capacity requirements
Key points of discussion:
- it was agreed it would be helpful to have a summary of key messages from both sets of data to identify which local authorities would benefit from targeted support and to provide feedback to authorities on how their progress compared to the national picture
- nationally the recruitment carried out in Period 1 was lower than forecast but authorities had indicated confidence in catching up by the end of Period 2 and lessons were being learnt for future recruitment activity
- nationally there was a spike in recruitment and capacity planned for Period 3 and Period 5 which was in line with infrastructure project timelines
- there was discussion around the need for additional explanatory analysis, particularly in relation to the risk surrounding significant levels of activity in Period 5
- it was noted that the scale of construction planned over an 18 month period was significant and would be challenging therefore it could be beneficial to carry out a sample review of projects. It was noted that the impact of EU exit on these projects was as yet unknown but could heighten the risk of ELC projects competing with other capital programmes for capacity.
- it was suggested a deep dive be carried out around regulatory issues relating to the 85% of projects where construction had not yet started
- it was noted that 33% of new builds were not planning to include registered outdoor space and only 8 local authorities had plans for fully outdoor provision. It was agreed this level was disappointing in light of the policy ambition to promote and increase outdoor learning opportunities, short build timescale and relative low cost as well as recognised benefits for children
Action 03/01: Improvement Service to provide a high level summary of key messages from the data to allow targeted support to be put in place.
Items for discussion escalated from ELC Joint Delivery Board [O]
Impact of EU exit on construction priorities
This had been discussed under Agenda item 3.
Communication channels between Scottish Government and local authorities
It was noted that not all key messages from Scottish Government were reaching all local authorities and being shared widely with partner providers. It was suggested that all messaging be directed towards Chief Executives and Directors of Education.
Promotion of outdoor learning opportunities
It was further emphasised that increased outdoor provision could provide valuable capacity across Scotland and improve children’s outcomes.
ELC advisory forums
ELC Partnership Forum
Alison Cumming provided an overview of the meeting held in Aberdeen on 12 December, noting the following key messages:
- the meeting focused on workforce issues and it was agreed to investigate creating a pool of supply staff that all providers could access and share recruitment strategies
- there were concerns raised around some providers not being aware of the National Standard being introduced and social media engagement providing an inaccurate picture of progress
Key points of discussion:
- it was noted that the forum was an opportunity for providers who had not yet been heard to be listened to and members were keen for this to continue
- there was no further intelligence of local authorities planning to add local criteria and ADES were clear that the National Standard was universally applicable
- it was noted that Living Wage and funding rate issues would continue to be challenging and have an impact on business models, however there was evidence of providers being content with local funding rates being announced
ELC Strategic Forum
Joe Griffin provided an overview of the meeting held on 18 December, noting that the substantive agenda item was a presentation on the Scottish Study of ELC. It was recognised that it would be a challenge to maintain the strategic nature of the group.
Any other business
Chair reflected that although there remained local challenges, she was pleased that the data showed a positive level of progress being made nationally.
It was agreed that the next meeting would be scheduled for 18 June in East Lothian followed by meetings on 10 September and 22 November.
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