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 10 Support during the introduction of the National Standard

At the end of the consultation, respondents were asked in an open text question what support service providers would require in preparation for the introduction of the National Standard and delivery of the new service model. Respondents discussed support required during the transitional period and more generally as part of the expansion. The following were referred to most frequently:

  • Training
  • Funding
  • Information and guidance
  • Dealing with workforce challenges
  • Educating parents

Each of these points is explored in more detail below.

10.1 Training

Respondents raised the following points with regards to training:

Many respondents across all respondent types raised that access to training would be fundamental in achieving quality service provision across the funded sector. Respondents referred to funding and the location of training as potential barriers that needed to be overcome. It was also argued that to be accessble to all provider types, particularly childminders, training needed to be flexible, for example online courses and training delivered in the evening or at the weekend.

Respondents felt that it would be helpful for providers to access training related to best practice in ELC service provision. Examples included learning about the latest developments in early years childcare and topics that would help providers to ensure they meet the National Standard such as nutrition and food provision.

Respondents also felt that it would be helpful for providers to have access to training related to supporting children who may have additional needs. For example, children in care, children who have experienced trauma or children with disabilities.

Finally, respondents highlighted the importance of investment in ongoing professional development for ELC staff in order to improve the quality of provision and professionalise the sector. They welcomed the requirement for all SSSC registered staff to have a minimum of 12 hours per year of continuous professional development.

10.2 Funding

Respondents raised two main points in relation to funding:

There were general comments made about the need for providers to receive unambiguous, realistic funding in order to successfully deliver the new Service Model for ELC provision. This point was raised by the large majority of independent schools, the majority of third sector and voluntary providers, as well as many private nurseries and individuals. Respondents emphasised that the amount of funding should be carefully considered to ensure it sufficiently covered all relevant costs and that funding should be paid in advance rather than in arrears. There was concern that funding payments made by local authorities were often late which could be damaging for businesses.

Respondents raised that the availability for capital or grant funding for providers would be helpful in preparing for the ELC expansion. For example, funding for refurbishments, such as installing a kitchen for food provision, or investment in resources and equipment that improved children's experience of learning.

10.3 Information and guidance

Respondents emphasised the importance of information and guidance, including:

the need for clear, consistent guidance on implementing the National Standard for all service provider types, in advance of the deadline for expansion in 2020. It was argued that where possible, this should be illustrated with best practice examples. This point was most often raised by local government organisations but also by the majority of independent schools.

User-friendy templates to help providers to adopt consistent approaches to, for example, monitoring and evaluating progress. A 'criteria checklist' for providers was also suggested as a possible resoucre for supporting implementation.

Seminars or workshops were referred to as potential opportunities for providers to raise queries about the guidance in a face-to-face setting. It was suggested that this could also be an opportunity for providers to share thoughts and ideas with others working in the funded ELC sector.

The possibility of a designated support team, either sitting within each local authority or delivered by a third party, was suggested in order for providers to know where they could access timely information and advice. Other similar suggestions incuded a local and national helpline.

Mentoring support for smaller and less experienced services during the transitional phase of the expansion. Examples included pairing established services in the private sector with smaller, charitable organisations so that the latter could receive business support such as contingency planning. It was suggested that local authorities may be best placed to coordinate this activity, given their oversight of funded ELC services in the area.

A few respondents welcomed the proposed operational guidance for local authorities and emphasised that this should include clear instructions for allocating hourly rates to partner providers.

Respondents also raised that it would be helpful if information and updates from the Scottish Government and local authorities regarding the expansion were shared regularly on relevant websites and that all providers were alerted when this happened.

10.4 Dealing with workforce challenges

Respondents referred to possible challenges for funded providers in maintaining appropriate staff levels:

One of the biggest risks to private and third sector funded providers during the transition to 2020 was said to be the loss of qualified and experienced staff to local authority services. It was therefore argued that staff cover would be required to allow remaining staff members to attend training.The issue of staff retention was said to hinder the possibility of provider neutrality.

Respondents raised that it would be helpful to be provided with guidance regarding the minimum number or proportion of qualified staff within each setting.

Respondents raised concerns regarding the capacity of staff to deliver the funded commitment, particularly in rural areas. It was therefore raised that support with recruitment, for example developing new employment pathways or pooling resources within particular local authorities, could be helpful.

10.5 Parental engagement

Respondents raised the following points in regard to engaging parents of children using funded ELC services:

Respondents raised that parents needed to be supported to understand the processes underpinning the ELC expansion and the choice of providers available to them. There was concern that parents do not always receive information about all provider types which limited their ability to make an informed choice.

It was also suggested that information, advice and guidance for parents on child development and best practice in ELC could help parents to feel more engaged in ELC provision. Respondents argued that this could improve the effectiveness of ELC provison as parents applied what they had learned at home. Respondents did not specify who should be responsible for this.

The issue of informing and engaging parents was most likely to be raised by representative and public bodies.


Email: Euan Carmichael

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