Early learning and childcare – national induction resource - latest version: January 2023

The early learning and childcare (ELC) national induction resource has been developed to support individuals in their induction to delivering ELC – whether that is funded ELC or ELC that families purchase themselves - setting out how individuals can expect employers to support them in their new role.

Our Investment in Early Learning and Childcare

A range of research shows that attending high quality ELC improves outcomes for children. For instance, children who attended high quality settings in Scotland were more likely to show improvements in expressive vocabulary between ages three and five. High quality ELC particularly benefits children living in more disadvantaged circumstances and so can make a real difference to closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Tackling child poverty is a national mission for Scotland and ELC has a key role to play in helping parents to access and progress in the labour market. Investment in ELC is one of a range of measures set out in our tackling child poverty delivery plan, helping to reduce child poverty in Scotland.

Research[4] also shows us that access to a mix of high quality, skilled professionals is strongly associated with improved outcomes for children. This is both in terms of cognitive development and health and wellbeing.

It is not just the formal qualifications of staff that have been shown to make a difference to children's outcomes. By undertaking continuous professional learning (CPL) you can also strengthen your ability to support children's learning and development.

The benefits of access to high quality ELC go beyond improving lifelong outcomes for children; it also has a direct impact on the wider family and in tackling child poverty. Research shows that affordable, flexible and high quality ELC, with an adequate number of hours per week, supports parents to increase their earned incomes by facilitating access to training, learning and paid employment. ELC providers, holding a trusted relationship with parents, can also play a key role in making parents aware of other support available to them – including money advice and other local services.

Funding Follows the Child is the policy framework that supports the delivery of ELC and ensures that the funded ELC entitlement is delivered in high quality settings. Funding Follows the Child is a 'provider neutral' approach which is underpinned by a National Standard that all services – regardless of whether they are in the public, private or third sector, or are childminders – will have to meet in order to be able to offer the funded ELC entitlement for eligible families in Scotland. For families this means that they will be able to access high quality funded ELC with the provider of their choice – if that provider meets the criteria set out in the National Standard, wishes to deliver the funded entitlement, has a space available and is in contract with their local authority to deliver the funded hours. The criteria of the National Standard focuses on what children and their families should expect from their funded entitlement experience and ensures that a high quality service will be delivered.

In recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for early learning and childcare (ELC) is currently subject to Interim Guidance[5], which allows local authorities to apply flexibilities to a small number of criteria in the National Standard.

From August 2014 the offer of funded ELC was expanded to include a targeted offer for eligible two year olds.[6] We have now set out our ambition to provide funded early learning and childcare to all one and two year olds, starting in the course of this Parliament with those children and families who will benefit most.

Further Investments

In 2022/23 we will begin work towards this ambition, with a focus on research and engagement. We will work with families, the early learning sector and academic experts to design how the new offer can be support children and families and to ensure families' lived experience is reflected in the offer. We also want to learn from the implementation of 1140 and hear from stakeholders about opportunities and challenges around the new offer.

We know that the needs of children under two differ from those aged three and four and we will be guided by what the evidence tells us about what is best for children and families depending on the age and stage of the child.

We are also committed to building a system of school age childcare, offering care before and after school and in the holidays, and supporting parents – particularly on low incomes – to have secure and stable employment. This offer will also reduce inequalities in children's access to play and activities round about the school day, particularly for those children who may benefit most.

As we progress these commitments and embed the benefits of the 1140 expansion, it is crucial that our ELC workforce is supported. We are in the initial stages of developing a Strategic Framework for Scotland's Early Learning and School-Aged Childcare Profession, aiming to ensure that we have a thriving childcare sector, capable of meeting existing and future commitments, whilst delivering high quality ELC. As the Strategy develops we will continue to work with sector representatives to explore a range of issues and ambitions in order to ensure our childcare sector is supported and empowered to flourish.


Email: Haylay.Forbes@gov.scot

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