Early Learning and Childcare Joint Delivery Board minutes: October 2019

Minutes of the meeting of the ELC Joint Delivery Board, held on 2 October 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Spokesperson CYP (Chair)
  • Nicola Dickie, COSLA Chief Officer CYP
  • Chris Dunne, Head of Programme Assurance
  • Joe Griffin, Director of ELC Programme 
  • Angela Leitch, SOLACE 
  • Peter Macleod, Care Inspectorate
  • Simon Mair, Head of Delivery Assurance
  • Laura Mason, ADES
  • Maree Todd, Minister for CYP

Additional attendees

  • Adam Hall, Improvement Service
  • Ann Jacob-Chandler, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Sarah Duncan, ELC Programme Assurance (Secretariat)


  • Roy Brannen, Non-Executive Member
  • Alison Cumming, Deputy Director of ELC Programme
  • Laura Friel, Directors of Finance

Items and actions

1.  Welcome and introductions

Cllr McCabe welcomed members to the fifth meeting of the Board and introductions were made.

2. Review minutes & open actions from previous meetings

The minutes of the meeting held on 25 June were approved.  Members were referred to the Action Log circulated and it was confirmed that there were no outstanding actions.

3.  Delivery Assurance

Simon Mair invited Adam Hall from Improvement Service to speak to the Delivery Progress Paper (Paper 05/03).

Key messages noted:

  • An additional data collection had been carried out to determine progress over the summer period up to August 2019 and update local authority forecasts for the period up to April 2021.  All 32 returns had been received and analysed.
  • There remained significant variation at local level, however national data indicated progress was in line with forecasts (within 10%) with 2 year old uptake being the only indicator that was behind forecast
  • Over 46,500 children were receiving over 600 hours of funded entitlement and over 4,000 new staff were in place
  • The expected increase in capacity and workforce had been realised with approximately 20% of the total planned activity for the expansion achieved in the reporting period
  • Updated forecasts had resulted in an overall reduction in additional LA staff expected to be required and capacity required in LA settings, due to increased provision being utilised in pattern settings.  Over 5,000 more children were received the entitlement in partner settings than previously forecast.
  • The rate of delivery was expected to be less from September to March, however this would again increase significantly as 40% of total additional capacity and uptake and 30% of total recruitment was expected to take place from April to August 2020
  • The next data collection was scheduled for 11 November and would be issued on 4 October

Areas of discussion:

  • Members noted that some large authorities pursuing an assertive approach to phasing risked distorting the national aggregate picture.  However, analysis had shown that removing them still showed an overall alignment with forecast.
  • Members noted that 2 year old uptake was lower than expected. Difficulties in predicting and identifying this age group were well known and some authorities had been ambitious in their forecasts.  It was noted that the annual ELC census data would provide further data on uptake levels, work with the Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative (CYPIC) was informing practice and secondary legislation was progressing to assist with data sharing.
  • Members confirmed that the clear progress demonstrated by the data led to collective confidence around readiness to proceed with full delivery of the programme in relation to procurement and enrolment and proceeding with national marketing activity for a parent audience
  • Members noted that inherent risk and challenges should not be underestimated, however they were confident that the foundations were strong enough to manage in the remaining year before full implementation
  • There was discussion around the balance of provision being delivered in local authority and partner settings and it was confirmed that parental choice and flexibility were the driver as well as developing partnership relationships

Simon invited Ann Jacob-Chandler to provide a verbal overview of progress on capital programmes.  The following key messages were noted:

  • 214 projects had completed and 120 were in construction, representing 37% of total additional capacity on track to delivery.  An additional 100 projects were scheduled to start on site by December.
  • There remained some data gaps around minor refurbishment projects planned during Easter and summer breaks in 2020 and others after 2020
  • Quarterly support was being provided to all authorities on a one to one basis and targeted support offered to those projects that had not yet started.  Projects that were due to complete in August 2020 were being closely engaged, however only 60% of projects had contingency plans in place.  Official members had committed to achieving a 100% return before the next meeting.
  • Risks remained with delivery of 50% of projects scheduled for August 2020 as well as inherent risks to programme development and contracts, planning issues, supplier availability and cost pressures
  • Progress on outdoor provision remained an issue, however, SFT were working closely with Care Inspectorate to ensure quality standards are met, feasible alternatives are found and indoor/outdoor provision is avoided for critical projects
  • SFT had held national infrastructure workshops and a further one was planned as well as a joint workshop with Scottish Government and Care Inspectorate on contingency planning

Areas of discussion:

  • Members considered what more could be done to reduce the risks of the capital programme and it was felt that contingency planning was critical.  Members noted that the focus of many plans were to change operating models, increase reliance on other LA facilities and partner providers and use of temporary units, although the latter was not being encouraged as it would have a significant cost and still carries registration issues.
  • Care Inspectorate highlighted the performance improvements in the past year on registration due to additional capacity funded by Scottish Government. 790 current projects were being progressed
  • Members agreed on the importance of all parts of the system getting the same message and this was being progressed through preparation of communications for Directors of Education, Directors of Finance, risk management and infrastructure colleagues as well as elected members over the next 4 four weeks to understand key messages on the issues and COSLA’s position
  • It was suggested that the CYP Board could assist with brokering prioritisation between the learning estate strategy, affordable housing supply programme and ELC

Simon Mair provided a summary of the Delivery Assurance Paper and the following key messages were noted:

  • Progress over the summer period had been successful and one to one discussions on progress were continuing.  Overall engagement shows that the majority of authorities have strong plans in place and are proceeding with implementation.
  • A small number of authorities had more profound concerns therefore Delivery Assurance was working intensively to support them in moving forward to reduce the risk of more widespread delivery failure

Key areas of discussion:

  • Members considered what their own organisations could do to support these challenges with ADES recognising that over quality issues it was key to mobilise Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate to ensure support was available for settings needing to raise grades
  • It was noted that the First Minister had announced ELC as a key priority and the Board had a collective responsibility to ensure it was delivered in an environment of competing interests.  SOLACE reassured members that ELC was on the agenda for member meetings, however local authority capacity was an issue as housing and infrastructure programmes had an equally transformative impact on many families.
  • COSLA highlighted funding pressures as a barrier to releasing senior staff to focus on the expansion
  • It was confirmed that communications on parental engagement were being planned for early in 2020 as a national campaign before enrolment took place.  Scottish Government had committed to sharing the timelines to feed into local plans
  • Members were asked to consider the 5 recommendations made in the paper and all were unanimously agreed

Decision 05/01: The recommendations made in Paper 05/04 were agreed:
Recommendation 1 - The Delivery Assurance Team and COSLA continue to review progress between now and the December meeting to support the prioritisation of support work. Given the timescales for impactful work, should any pressing issues arise, these may be notified to the joint chairs to allow for prompt action.
Recommendation 2 - In particular, the Board agrees that should a need for additional data requests be identified before the December meeting, this may be agreed by the JDB chairs in correspondence.
Recommendation 3 - The Delivery Assurance Team should continue to offer bespoke direct and intensive support to local authorities facing significant challenges to delivery.
Recommendation 4 - The Board notes the issues set out in Annex A, and that that all organisations involved in ELC expansion may need to consider their activities to reduce risk in the ELC expansion over the next 10 months. 
Recommendation 5 - The Board discuss the proposed approaches to addressing these issues, identify key actions, and review these actions at the December meeting.

Decision 05/02: The proposed actions in Appendix A of Paper 05/04 were agreed to be considered by all members:

Lead Organisation Action (Localised Organisational Challenges)
SG Delivery Assurance
  1. Coaching support by Delivery Assurance staff in some local authorities to support them to put in place more effective planning arrangements, review and improve plans, and engage more effectively with their local decision making structures
  2. Escalation of issues to senior council staff where appropriate
  3. Offering additional capacity to RICS to support local problem solving
  4. Review of cost and population pressures being felt by some local authorities, and consideration of action to support
  1. Ensuring awareness of progress at a national level through regular updates to Children and Young People’s Board
  2. Escalation of concerns to senior council staff/councillors
  1. Direct support on capital programme decision making and contingency planning
  1. Direct support on risk management or other PMO/governance functions
Lead Organisation Activity (Workforce and Recruitment)
SG Delivery Assurance
  1. Adding recruitment capacity to improve the quality of risk assessment and provide improved capacity for support to local authorities
  2. Identify risks around the impact of local authority recruitment decisions on partner providers
SG Policy
  1. Discussions with the Workforce Project Board to identify areas where local authorities and others would value additional nationally-led support
  2. Exploring additional support to PVI sector to reduce workforce-related risks
  3. National recruitment campaign support
  4. Actions to maximise conversion of HNC graduates to workforce in 2019/2020
  5. Development of offer around leadership development to support staff to gain skills and experience for senior posts
  1. Engaging with partner organisations, e.g. SPDS, to address workforce challenges
  1. Support to improve information and good-practice sharing via KHub and webinars
  2. Offer to prioritised local authorities of business analysis support 
Lead Organisation Activity (Capital and Capacity)
SG Delivery Assurance
  1. Development of a ‘whole system’ approach to contingency planning to support local authorities in considering options where capital projects cannot be delivered on time
SG Policy
  1. Develop links between the ELC infrastructure investment and the Learning Estate Strategy and investment programme
  1. Prioritised local authority engagement to ensure that SFT support is appropriately targeted and are continuing to work directly with local authority teams to support them to deliver infrastructure projects
  2. Lessons learned sharing through 1-2-1 engagement and themed forums with local authorities
  3. Supporting local authorities to identify critical projects and to prioritise problem-solving on these
  4. Intensifying contingency planning support
  5. Providing forecasts for Care Inspectorate of the number, type and timing of facilities requiring registration
  6. Review of cost data from recently concluded procurements and undertake benchmarking to establish the impact of the response from the market and its impact on the capital programmes, including external factors such as Brexit
  7. Review of market reliance on key contractors and suppliers
  1. Offer systematic supply and demand analysis to develop an understanding of the required capacity and map contingency plans
Care Inspectorate
  1. Work with SFT and others  to clarify issues around registration of outdoor space
  2. Forward planning work underway to enable registration requests to be processed timeously
  3. Review of temporary facilities registration process to ensure that local authorities are clear on the requirements and timescales for this
Lead Organisation Activity (Quality)
SG Delivery Assurance
  1.  Professional advisors have started working directly with local authority staff to improve their capacity to support settings
SG Policy
  1. Share learning and best practice following Quality Learning event in September 2019
  2. Clarification of service improvement period issued
  1. Supporting information and good practice sharing via Knowledge Hub
  1. Consider peer support and practice sharing on quality improvement planning
Care Inspectorate
  1. Recruiting 3 additional quality improvement officers to support settings

Action 05/01:  Members to provide an update on actions at the next meeting.

4.  SEEMIS Early Years Project 

Chris Dunne provided a verbal update on the project, noting the following key points:

  • Delivery of the new Early Years MIS to replace NAMS was integral to the programme as NAMS was deemed not fit for purpose
  • The risk score remains high, however mitigating actions have progressed
  • An independent assurance review had been carried out and had produced a Red/Amber score alongside 13 recommendations.  The project board was considering the recommendations and formulating an action plan that would be shared with members once finalised to allow views to be sought.
  • Members considered whether any further action was required by the Board and it was agreed to await the action plan to consider further
  • It was confirmed that COSLA had reached out to SEEMIS and would assist with ensuring actions were taken forward quickly as it was their number one priority

5. ELC Programme Level Risk Profile

Chris Dunne provided an overview of the Programme Level Risk Profile (Paper 05/05) and noted the following key messages:

  • There were 2 red risks around infrastructure and SEEMIS Early Years
  • A new risk had been added around setting quality and the EU Exit risk score had increased
  • Overall the profile was a valuable mechanism to track and monitor risks and take actions, with 13 mitigating actions added since the last report
  • 7 previous mitigating actions had been completed and were now risk controls, therefore increasing assurance

6.  Advisory Forum output

Nicola Dickie provided a verbal update from the Strategic Forum meeting held at Scottish Storytelling Centre on 3 September:

  • The main agenda item was a presentation on strengthening the links between ELC, employability and child poverty policies which was well received by stakeholders
  • The group were also updated on the evidence from Phase one of the Scottish Study of ELC
  • Members were very engaged in the discussion and provided considerable input.

Key areas of discussion:

  • Members asked for the presentation to be shared
  • Chair noted that there was considerable third sector representation on the group which allows engagement with the wider sector therefore it is hoped to use the forum to be used to convene discussions with the sector on priorities post-2020.

Action 05/02:  Secretariat to share presentation from Strategic Forum with the Board for information.

Nicola Dickie provided a verbal update from the Partnership Summit held at Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 12 September:

  • The event had 200 attendees from local authorities, private and third sector providers as well as national bodies and representative bodies for the sector
  • Delegates heard from Ms Todd, Cllr Evison and had opportunity to attend 3 of 18 workshops, many delivered by or with involvement of providers, before finishing with a powerful reflection on the benefits of ELC and specifically the expansion for children and families across Scotland
  • The event clearly demonstrated a strong level of partnership working and social media had been very positive, with #TeamELC resonating with the sector

Key areas of discussion:

  • Members were struck by the progress made since the forum was established in October 2018 and were confident that overcoming the original challenges showed the potential for success in other areas
  • The next meeting was scheduled to be held in Perth on 6 November, covering the final RIC area, and would take stock of the period to 2020

7.  Items for discussion escalated from Officials meeting

Publication of progress data

Members discussed the pressure to share local level data alongside aggregated data but felt that this could impact on policy development and remove the collaborative space for providing support.  Furthermore, each local authority had its own governance processes which were open and transparent, and involved publication of key local delivery data. 

It was confirmed that Audit Scotland were in the process of producing a report on the expansion that was due to report early in 2020 and was expected to comment on thematic issues rather than specific process such as data publication.

COSLA noted that there had not been much activity on the separate workstream with local public relations colleagues, to encourage them to proactively publish positive communications on ELC.  There had been a strong message from the Board that the story needed to be told locally to provide narrative in advance of any data being released to ensure context is already provided to support national management of media. It was noted that local committee data was already published and this could be utilised to report on local progress.

8.  AOB 

Future meeting schedule

The next meeting was scheduled to be held on Tuesday 17 December at Pollokshields Early Years Centre, Glasgow.

Official members proposed further meetings be scheduled for early March, late June, early October and mid December 2020 and this was agreed.

SOLACE Representative

Members notes that Angela was moving to a new post and therefore a new SOLACE representative for the Board would be advised in due course.

Utilisation of Childminders

Members noted that concerted efforts were being made to promote the benefits of childminding as a genuine option for delivery models and there were some localities where recruitment of childminders could have a significant impact on flexibility available.  It was agreed that the unique offer provided by childminders was crucial to parental choice therefore promotion may benefit from additional focus.

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