Publication - Advice and guidance

Early learning and childcare: statutory guidance - July 2021

Published: 13 Jul 2021

Statutory guidance to education authorities to support them in exercising their functions in relation to the delivery of early learning and childcare from 1 August 2021.

Early learning and childcare: statutory guidance - July 2021
Interpretation

Interpretation

4. In this document local authorities are referred to as 'education authorities' as most of the references in the guidance are with regards to their statutory functions that relate to school education.

5. Throughout this document, the terms 'parent' and 'parents' have been used, and includes guardian and any person who is liable to maintain or has parental responsibilities (within the meaning of section 1(3) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995) in relation to, or has care of a child or young person.

6. Education authorities' functions to secure education for children under school age are provided for in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.

7. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the 2014 Act), and the accompanying secondary legislation made since 2014:

  • defines the term 'early learning and childcare';
  • sets out eligibility for early learning and childcare;
  • sets out the amount of funded early learning and childcare (referred to as the mandatory amount of early learning and childcare in the legislation) that eligible children are entitled to and the framework for delivering this.

These terms are further explained in the Glossary (in Annex A).

8. To avoid potential confusion, and to align with supporting policy guidance documents, this Guidance refers to the 'mandatory amount of early learning and childcare' as the funded early learning and childcare entitlement.

9. Eligible children are not required to take up all, or any, of their funded early learning and childcare entitlement.

10. The 2014 Act places duties on education authorities to consult with parents on the delivery of funded early learning and childcare, and to have regard to the desirability of ensuring that early learning and childcare is made available in a way that is flexible and allows parents an appropriate degree of choice when deciding how to access the service.

11. The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 also enables education authorities to provide access to provision that is out-with the statutory entitlement as defined through the 2014 Act. This is referred to as discretionary early learning and childcare. The Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 empowers education authorities to charge for discretionary early learning and childcare.

12. The other key aspects regarding how funded early learning and childcare must be delivered are set out in the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000. This Act requires that early learning and childcare provision to eligible pre-school children must be delivered without the payment of fees. It also enables education authorities to enter into arrangements with other persons (i.e. providers in the private, third or childminding sectors) to deliver the funded early learning and childcare entitlement or to deliver discretionary early learning and childcare.

13. There are also other pieces of legislation that have implications for the delivery of early learning and childcare and to which references are made in this guidance. When referring to the various pieces of legislation throughout the remainder of the document the following terms are used:

  • 'the 2014 Act' means the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014;
  • 'the 2014 Order' means the Provision of Early Learning and Childcare (Specified Children) Order 2014.
  • 'the 1980 Act' means the Education (Scotland) Act 1980;
  • 'the 2000 Act' means the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000;
  • 'the 1995 Act' means the Children (Scotland) Act 1995;
  • 'the 2004 Act' means the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004; and
  • 'the 2010 Act' means the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

Contact

Email: ELCPartnershipForum@gov.scot