Early learning and childcare service model for 2020: consultation paper

This joint consultation with COSLA sets out the Funding Follows the Child approach and seeks views on the proposed National Standard that will underpin it.

A New Service Model that Guarantees Quality and Unlocks Choice

The 2017-18 Action Plan highlighted that in order to deliver our policy vision for the expansion, a more progressive service model would be introduced from 2020.

We use the term Service Model to refer to the overarching delivery model which determines:

  • how and where parents and carers access their child's funded early learning and childcare entitlement;
  • the criteria that providers will be required to meet in order to become eligible to deliver the funded early learning and childcare entitlement;
  • how the funded entitlement is delivered in a way that is reflective of the underpinning principles for the expansion (quality, flexibility, accessibility and affordability); and
  • the support that will be available to the early learning and childcare sector to help settings to meet the criteria for becoming a funded provider.

The Service Model for delivering funded early learning and childcare entitlement from 2020 will:

  • prioritise and safeguard high quality provision;
  • offer parents and carers a choice of settings in accessing their child's early learning and childcare funded entitlement;
  • increase overall levels of flexibility to provide parents and carers with more choice in the pattern of how they access this provision;
  • be provider neutral;
  • ensure financially sustainable provision across the early learning and childcare sector; and
  • promote and encourage fair work practices, including enabling payment of at least the 'real' living wage to all childcare workers delivering the funded early learning and childcare entitlement.

To deliver this we will introduce a new Funding Follows the Child approach in 2020. This will be underpinned by a new National Standard for Funded Early Learning and Childcare Provision ("the National Standard").

From 2020 any provider delivering the funded ELC entitlement must meet the requirements of this new National Standard. This means that regardless of whether the funded hours are provided by a setting in the public, private or third sectors, or through provision offered by childminders, families will have assurance that their child will have a high quality experience.

Service Models Working Group

A Service Models Working Group, which is co-chaired by Local and Scottish Government, was established in June 2017 with the responsibility for developing the new service model. The remit of the Service Models Working Group was to:

  • develop the details of the new Funding Follows the Child model, and provide a clear statement on operation;
  • produce the National Standard for a more open process to becoming a funded provider and;
  • inform delivery of the Living Wage commitment for childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement in providers in the private and third sectors, and develop a guidance note to support implementation of the commitment.

The group has a core membership comprising:

  • Scottish Government – Alison Cumming (co-chair), Susan Wallace, Euan Carmichael and Sasha Maguire
  • ELC Delivery Team – Craig Clement
  • COSLA – Jane O'Donnell, Lauren Bruce
  • Local Authority Finance representative – Laura Friel (North Ayrshire)
  • Local Authority Early Years representatives – Bill Alexander (Highland Council and co-chair), Janice MacInnes (Edinburgh), and Lesley Gibb (Dundee)
  • Local Authority Resources representative – Simon Mair (East Dunbartonshire)
  • Legal/Administrative – Afsi Barekat (Scottish Government Legal Directorate)
  • Procurement expertise – Susan Craig (Scottish Government Procurement), Andrew Richmond (Scotland Excel), and Carlo Grilli (Local Authority Procurement - East Lothian)

The development of the National Standard criteria has been informed by input from local authorities, providers, and a range of stakeholders.

In developing the National Standard, the Service Models Working Group:

  • carried out a scoping exercise of the current approaches across local authorities to contracting organisations and individuals to deliver the funded early learning and childcare entitlement;
  • considered what aspects of the current approaches could be incorporated into a National Standard and developed the key aspects for a National Standard;
  • worked with representatives of the Quality Reference Group to develop the national quality criteria;
  • hosted a stakeholder event with funded providers from the private and third sectors in October 2017, to hear from providers and provider bodies with regards to their experience of becoming funded providers, and;
  • ran a programme of stakeholder events, from January to March 2018, across the country to work with providers and local authorities to get input on the key elements of the draft National Standard and in particular how providers envisage the system working under the new service model.

Next Steps

The move towards a Funding Follows the Child approach will represent a significant change for parents and carers, providers, and local authorities. We are committed to developing this approach collaboratively and ensuring that there is support in place to ensure a smooth transition to the new model in 2020.

As part of the consultation process, which will run until the 29 th June 2018, we will run a further series of engagement events across Scotland which will allow us to hear directly from parents and providers on the approach set out in this paper.

More details on these events will be available on the Scottish Government web site.

Transitional Support and Operating Guidance

Following consideration of the consultation responses we will set out the final version of the Funding Follows the Child approach in Autumn 2018.

To support providers and local authorities in implementing the new model, and to ensure that families have clear information, we will work closely with delivery partners (in particular through the Service Models Working Group) to develop a suite of operational guidance and supporting information to be published alongside the final version of the model in Autumn 2018.


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