Early learning and childcare service model for 2020: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to the joint Scottish Government and COSLA consultation on the new Early Learning and Childcare service model for 2020.

Chapter 9 Inclusion of a probationary period

Written respondents were asked whether newly established ELC settings should be able to operate on a probationary period while they wait for the findings of their first inspection, provided they meet all other aspects of the National Standard. Just over half of respondents who answered this question agreed that newly established services should be able to operate on a probationary period, with organisations more likely to agree than individuals.

Figure 13 – The extent to which respondents agreed with the proposal for a probationary period
Fewer individuals than organisations agreed with the proposal that newly established settings should operate on a probabtionary period before their first inspection

Figure 13 – The extent to which respondents agreed with the proposal for a probationary period

Respondents were also asked to comment on this proposal in an open text question. The following points were raised:

  • A probationary period is necessary to fulfil the funded commitment
  • A probationary period should be conditional
  • A probationary period could have negative impacts on children, families and the quality of ELC service provision
  • Timing of first inspection.

Each of these points is explored in further detail below.

9.1 Fulfilling the funded commitment

Respondents recognised that to fulfil the Scottish Government's commitment of expanding the funded hours, this would rely on the capacity of services in new settings. It was argued that the probationary period granted new services the time they needed to set up, build business and evidence sustainability. It was also said to give existing services time to adjust and demonstrate that they meet the necessary criteria.

9.2 Conditions

Respondents emphasised the difference between brand new providers and providers who have been delivering non-funded services. It was argued that the procurement system should distinguish between these two service types by introducing a number of conditions. Suggestions included a longer probationary period and more intensive monitoring process for new services.

9.3 Potential impact of including a probationary period

Many respondents raised a number of concerns about the potential impact of introducing a probationary period:

Respondents raised the concern that the inclusion of a probationary period could lead to poorer quality provision and the funding of inadequate learning environments for children. These respondents tended to argue that providers should not be able to deliver funded provision until they have successfully passed the first inspection.

Concerns were also raised in regard to cases where a provider fails the first inspection following the probationary period. Respondents sought clarification on the processes and procedures were this to occur and expressed concern over the potential disruption to care provision for children and families.

9.4 Length of probationary period

Respondents that stated they were unclear as to the exact length of the proposed probationary period sought confirmation on this. Others argued that it was imperative that local authorities ensured inspections were conducted within 12 months.


Email: Euan Carmichael

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