Welcome to your career in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC). You will know that a career in ELC is more than just a job; it is a truly satisfying and rewarding career. Working with children to help nurture their development, support their learning, and shape positive futures is exceptionally important. As we have expanded the funded entitlement of ELC to 1140 hours per year from August 2021, this is a very exciting time to be joining the profession, playing a key role in the delivery of the expansion to families.
The earliest years of life are crucial to a child's learning and development and have a lasting impact on outcomes in health, education and employment opportunities later in life. This is why we have made an unprecedented investment in ELC to support our ambition to give all of our children the best start in life. As well as increasing the entitlement to funded ELC from 600 hours to 1140 hours a year, we have also placed a renewed emphasis on ensuring that all children have access to a high quality ELC experience; ensuring they are supported in all aspects of their early learning and development.
Realising the Ambition – Being Me explains that the early childhood curriculum is holistic. It values children and early childhood. From the age of three, Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence provides children and young people with a Broad General Education. At its centre are four fundamental capacities. These capacities reflect and recognise the lifelong nature of education and learning. They:
- recognise the need for all children and young people to know themselves as individuals and to develop their relationships with others, in families and in communities;
- recognise the knowledge, skills and attributes that children and young people need to acquire to thrive in our interconnected, digital and rapidly changing world; and
- enable children and young people to be democratic citizens and active shapers of that world.
We know that the most important driver of quality provision is a dedicated, highly skilled and well-qualified workforce, whose initial training and continued professional learning enables them to fulfil their own potential and equip our young children to do the same.
Scotland is already leading the way across the UK in its ambition to have a highly qualified and regulated workforce, and this resource has been developed to support you in your induction to delivering ELC – whether that is funded ELC or ELC that families purchase themselves. It has been developed specifically to support staff working in ELC centres rather than in childminding settings, and sets out how you can expect your employer to support you in your new role. The resource also provides links to the suite of national resources which are available to support you, and has been developed collaboratively with the range of national organisations supporting the profession.
We hope that this resource helps to demonstrate how much we value our ELC workforce, and that it supports you to develop in your vital role of supporting our children to have the best possible start. This is of particular significance at this time as we continue to move forward and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. All children, young people and their families have been impacted by the pandemic, but it has not affected everyone equally. We know that there is a greater impact on families with low-incomes and evidence is emerging which suggests that children under the age of five have been most affected. Specific ELC guidance is available for the continued safe operation of providers and staff, including links to further resources.
We know that the workforce is working really hard to support children and their families, and to provide safe and nurturing settings. As a new member of staff, it is important that you understand how to support the safe care of children when there are competing pressures. Additional reflection questions in section two of this document can help you to consider safety and risk assessment as a key part of your role. The Care Inspectorate Quality Framework for Daycare of Children, Childminding, and School Aged Childcare also contains a range of quality illustrations to support high quality, safe environments for children (more information about this is included in the Leadership section of this resource).
To further support our workforce, we have worked with Early Years Scotland to develop the Team ELC Wellbeing Hub; a resource which sets out vital information for the sector on maintaining their wellbeing, and creates opportunities for staff to connect with each other and experts. The Wellbeing Hub has been accompanied by a series of online events which provided practical advice in the shape of a self-care toolkit. We'd encourage everyone to have a look at the recordings of previous events, which have been posted on the Wellbeing Hub.
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