Publication - Minutes

Early Learning and Childcare Joint Delivery Board minutes: June 2021

Published: 12 Oct 2021
Date of meeting: 2 Jun 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 2 June 2021.

Published:
12 Oct 2021
Early Learning and Childcare Joint Delivery Board minutes: June 2021

Attendees and apologies

Members

  • Ms Clare Haughey, Minister for Children and Young People
  • Cllr Stephen McCabe, Spokesperson for Children and Young People COSLA
  • Alison Cumming, SG Director of ELC
  • Eddie Follan, Chief Officer Children and Young People
  • Simon Mair, SG Head of Delivery Assurance
  • Hannah Keates, ELC Team Leader, Scottish Government
  • Chris Dunne, Head of Operations and Assurance, Scottish Government
  • Gary Fairley, Midlothian, Representing Directors of Finance
  • Laura Mason, Chief Education Officer, West Dunbartonshire Council, ADES
  • Roy Brannen, Chief Executive Transport Scotland
  • Peter Macleod, Care Inspectorate

Additional attendees

  • Adam Hall, Improvement Service
  • Ann Jacob-Chandler, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Leona Devlin, ELC Delivery Assurance, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Burke, ELC Delivery Assurance, Scottish Government

Apologies

  • Margo Williamson, Chief Executive, Angus Council
  • Ellen Leaver, ELC Unit Head, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Agenda

  • welcome and introductions (Cllr McCabe, Chair)
  • introduction and matters arising (Cllr McCabe, Chair)
  • scene setting and mid-year stocktake (Hannah Keates, ELC Team Leader, SG)
  • risk register – delivery and programme (Chris Dunne, Head of Operations and Assurance)
  • future meetings (Hannah Keates, ELC Team Leader, SG)
  • AOB (Cllr McCabe, Chair)
  • wrap up with officials (Alison Cumming, Director of ELC Programme, SG)

Welcome

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting, particularly the new co-chair Ms Haughey, Minister for Children and Young people.

The Chair thanked previous co-chair Ms Maree Todd for all her hard work, support and determination towards the programme. 

Introduction and matters arising

The minutes of the previous meeting (2 March 2021) were agreed by the group.

Scene setting and mid-year stocktake

Hannah Keates, Adam Hall and Ann Jacob-Chandler highlighted key points from the June update paper (paper 036) and the mid-year stocktake paper (paper 037), followed by group discussion. The figures in the papers are based on returns in the Improvement Delivery Progress Report. Over 50% of councils are now delivering the full 1140 hours and all local authorities are offering more than the statutory 600 hours.

Board discussion focused on the following themes:

COVID-19 public health measures

  • Alison Cumming updated the Board on the current impact the public health measures are having on the ELC expansion programme. The Scottish Government is currently going through a series of considerations with the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues around the ELC guidance and how this could be aligned to local authority mitigation levels to reflect the status of the pandemic and the latest public health advice, and in light of the latest four harms assessment
  • noting the impact on children and staff, capacity and cohort sizing has been highlighted as the challenge for local authorities in terms of being able to deliver a full 1140 offer. The current guidance has a cohort limit of 33, but this number is likely to vary by level when the guidance is updated. This may mean that (for example) it may not be possible to deliver the full 1140 hours in all settings whilst a local authority is in level 4, causing short term issues, despite the staffing and physical capacity being in place for 
  • the Delivery Assurance Team (DAT) are continuing to work intensively over the summer to support councils who have reported challenges to delivery of 1140 if current public health restrictions remain in place
  • the Board discussed what implications this might have for local authorities’ ability to discharge the statutory duty to provide 1140 hours, and how local authorities would manage such a situation. Legislative options, such as a continuity direction, may be required if another wave, lockdown or reduced services were to come into force (continuity directions were issued in respect of the 600 hours duty in both 2020 and 2021)
  • during Board discussion, the Care Inspectorate highlighted they will also assist local authorities in respect of the relevant guidance as they have good links with Directors of Public Health where perhaps further and locally specific guidance may be required

Delivery readiness

  • Adam Hall updated the Board on the latest data collection by the Improvement Service, in which local authorities have reported their status of delivery as of April 2021. The main highlights from this data collection showed:
    • 118,068 children were accessing funded ELC as of the end of April 2021
    • of these, 102,410 children (87%) were accessing more than the statutory entitlement of 600 hours, and 84,606 children (72%) were accessing 1140 hours funded ELC 86,000 children (72%) were accessing 1140 hours funded ELC
    • the numbers of children accessing an expanded offer has increased since February 2021, with an additional 10,510 children now reported to be accessing 1140 hours funded ELC
    • the ELC workforce has increased by 75% (7178 FTE) since the start of the expansion in academic year 2016/17, including 730 since August last year, and 230 since February
  • local authorities expect there to be an additional 1,000 FTE in place in August, though it is worth noting that a number of the local authorities who indicate that they expect additional workforce to be in place in August 2021 are already offering 1140 to all children. This indicates that the increase in workforce between now and August is not necessarily a requirement for delivery of the statutory duty, and is expected to be in place to support increased flexibility and to staff as yet unfinished infrastructure projects
  • there was brief Board discussion of the trend in increasing recruitment, particularly the importance of recruitment in more remote areas to build a sustainable workforce. The Board also highlighted the positive sign of delivery coming through in this report, despite tight restrictions, local authorities have continued to put in a lot of hard work to benefit children and families to receive their entitled funded hours
  • the Board was asked to note that the Improvement Service and Scottish Government had sent a proposal to the Delivery Steering group on how we can evidence successful delivery of the expansion in August. This will be circulated to local authorities and won’t be a full data collection as the previous reports

Infrastructure

  • Ann Jacob-Chandler outlined progress on the infrastructure programme, with 71% of infrastructure projects complete. The infrastructure risk to delivery of 1140 is continuing to reduce, and whilst there have been several challenges over the last year none of these appear to have significantly impacted on construction delivery. The DAT will continue to keep a watching brief on these
  • not all projects are required for August (some relate to future growth, or local development strategies) and three-quarters of the projects required for delivering 1140 service in this academic year are complete. There have been some changes to project dates which has increased the number of transition and contingency plans required
  • looking ahead to August, our data indicates that:
    • 87% of all projects will be complete by August 21
    • 90% of all required projects will be complete by August 21
    • contingency plans have been identified for all critical projects completing after August 21
  • the DAT are continuing to work closely with the Care Inspectorate and sharing data to help plan and prioritise registration activity
  • the recommendations in the paper were agreed by the Board. Scottish Government and COSLA will continue to engage and work closely with high risk councils

Risk register – delivery and programme risk

Chris Dunne expanded on the Programme Risk Summary (paper 038) and National Project Overview (paper 039). Key points made were:

  • most of the lager risks from earlier in the Programme are reducing or remain static
  • the paper includes a description on the difference between programme and delivery risk, and how we continue to monitor these after August
  • it was also noted that the delay in roll-out of SEEMiS Early Years will require local authorities to continue to apply local workarounds to the existing NAMS system, although this is not on the critical path for delivery of 1140 in August 2021
  • in the following Board discussion, a recommendation was made to that a second Digital Health Check should take place on this over the summer to ensure delivery for November
  • Ms Haughey requested further information on SEEMiS Early Years and a discussion with SG officials on the issues

Future meetings

Hannah Keates introduced the discussion paper (paper 040) on future meetings of the Board. The proposals in the paper were agreed by the Board members and the calendar invites will be circulated up to April 2022.

AOB

No matters were raised under AOB.