We know that the earliest years of life are crucial for every child, and the evidence tells us that if our early learning and childcare offer is to help give children the best start in life and contribute to closing the poverty-related attainment gap, it has to be of high quality.
The approach to delivering the expansion to 1140 hours will therefore ensure all settings providing the funded entitlement deliver high quality early learning and childcare for children , regardless of whether they are in the public, private or third sectors.
To enable this, as part of the national roll-out of 1140 hours in 2020, a new Funding Follows the Child approach will be introduced. This will prioritise and safeguard high quality provision, whilst enabling more choice for parents and carers.
The approach will be underpinned by a new National Standard for Funded Early Learning and Childcare Provision. This sets out the clear and consistent criteria that all providers who wish to deliver the funded entitlement will have to meet. Alongside this there is also a commitment to simplifying the process for providers who wish to deliver the funded entitlement.
A Service Models Working Group was established in June 2017, which brought together local authority, COSLA and Scottish Government representatives, with the responsibility for developing the Funding Follows the Child approach and setting out the supporting National Standard. We are very grateful to the members of the Working Group for their efforts in developing this new approach.
The Working Group has taken a collaborative approach in developing the new service model and has had a strong focus on hearing the views of a range of providers and stakeholders.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who participated in the programme of events the Working Group ran from October 2017 to March 2018. These events were very constructive and invaluable to the development of the new service model and we are very grateful to those who gave up valuable time to attend and participate in the events.
The move towards a Funding Follows the Child approach, and the introduction of the National Standard, will represent a significant change for parents and carers, providers, and local authorities.
We are committed to continuing to develop this approach collaboratively and ensuring that everyone in the sector can provide their views on the new model.
That is why we are now consulting on the National Standard.
The consultation will be supported by a programme of engagement, including with providers and parents and carers, to enable us to capture a range of views on the detailed approach set out in this consultation document.
We very much look forward to working with you as we continue to develop and deliver the new model, and we would encourage you to participate in the consultation.
Minister for Childcare and Early Years
Cllr Stephen McCabe
COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson