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 1 Introduction

The Scottish Government and local authorities are committed to additional investment in early learning and childcare (ELC) to increase the funded entitlement from 600 to 1140 hours per year from August 2020. This applies to all 3 and 4 year olds, as well as eligible two year olds.

Along with the expansion of the funded ELC entitlement, a new "Funding Follows the Child" approach will be introduced which will be underpinned by a new "National Standard". All providers (local authority settings, private and third sector providers and childminders) wishing to deliver the funded ELC entitlement from 2020 will need to meet the National Standard.

Between 29 March 2018 and 29 June 2018, the Scottish Government and COSLA ran a joint consultation on the "Early Learning and Childcare Service Model for 2020: Consultation Paper". The consultation document set out a proposed range of criteria that would form the National Standard that will underpin the new model.

The online consultation asked a combination of closed and open-ended questions, covering:

  • The factors that should be considered in developing a process for becoming a funded provider
  • The key shared principles that should underpin a positive and effective partnership between local authorities and funded providers
  • A range of questions on specific aspects of different criteria of the National Standard, including the criteria on:
    • Outdoor learning
    • Fair Work, and payment of the 'real' living wage
  • A range of general questions about the criteria set out in the National Standard:
    • Whether it ensures high quality, accessible, flexible and affordable ELC is delivered in all funded provider settings
    • Whether it increases the choice for parents and carers
    • Whether there are any criteria missing in the National Standard which are required to ensure that a high-quality service is provided to all children
    • Whether they seem fair and proportionate for all, and for childminders
  • Whether newly established ELC settings should be able to deliver the funded hours on a probationary period
  • What support ELC providers will require to prepare for the introduction of the National Standard.

A full list of the consultation questions can be found in Appendix 1.

In addition to the online consultation, the Scottish Government ELC Service Models Team held a total of eight consultation events in different locations:

  • Glasgow (around 80 attendees)
  • Dundee (around 30 attendees)
  • Stirling (around 25 attendees)
  • Edinburgh (around 40 attendees)
  • Kilwinning (around 20 attendees).
  • Two consultation sessions held at the ELC National Learning Event which were chaired by COSLA and Scotland Excel
  • One consultation even in Inverness hosted by the Care and Learning Alliance (around 12 attendees)
  • One consultation event in Glasgow hosted by the Glasgow Council for Voluntary Sector and targeted at providers in the voluntary sector (around 15 attendees).

Most attendees at the events were ELC providers. The notes from these eight consultation events are reflected in the consultation analysis (i.e. each event is counted as one response).

Rocket Science UK Ltd was commissioned by the Scottish Government to analyse the responses to the online consultation and write-ups of the consultation events and report on its findings.


This section outlines the methodology underlying this report: the research, analysis and reporting process.

Rocket Science downloaded the responses to the online consultation from Citizen Space. A further 16 responses, which were not submitted through Citizen Space, were sent to Rocket Science by the Scottish Government as well as the notes from the eight consultation events.

Rocket Science checked all responses for potential duplicates. There were a few IP-addresses from which multiple responses were submitted and numerous responses that provided very similar comments. However, all of these responses were submitted from individuals and were not identical in how they answered the closed nor open-ended questions. As such, all responses were counted as individual submissions. Finally, all responses were uploaded onto NVivo for analysis. NVivo is a qualitative analysis programme that enables the coding of responses to themes and sub-themes ("nodes" and "sub-nodes"). Firstly, a coding framework – outlining the different themes and sub-themes – was developed after reviewing 65 responses. The coding framework was then agreed with the Scottish Government. All the remaining responses were then coded with this coding framework as a basis. However, it should be noted that throughout the coding process, the coding framework was continuously refined, with themes and sub-themes being added.

The consultation asked questions on eight issues (some of which were a combination of closed- and open-ended questions) which built the basis of the coding framework and the reporting. It should be noted, however, that respondents often raised similar points across different questions. In such cases, the comments were coded to the most relevant theme or sub-theme of the coding framework, as opposed to the themes falling under the question in answer to which the comment was made. There are a range of topics that were raised that did not directly relate to a question. These were coded separately and recorded in an additional Chapter covering "Other issues".

When discussing the frequency with which a certain point was raised – either across all respondents or a particular respondent type - the report uses the following terms:

  • "Few" means between 5% and 9%
  • "Some" means between 10% and 19%
  • "Many" means between 20% and 49%
  • "Most" or the "the majority of" means between 50% and 74%
  • "Large majority" or "broad agreement" means 75% to 90%
  • "Consensus" means 90% or more.

Where there is a clear, identifiable pattern in responses to particular questions by respondent type, this has been reported.

This report explores the whole range of views that were raised by respondents. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Scottish Government, COSLA or Rocket Science.

Report Structure

This report is structured in the following Chapters:


Email: Euan Carmichael

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