1. This statutory guidance is issued under section 34 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools Act 2000  (the 2000 Act) which empowers Scottish Ministers to issue guidance to education authorities on the exercise of their functions in relation to provisions in Part 6 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act)  on early learning and childcare. Part 6 of the Act comes into force on 1 August 2014. This guidance is also issued under section 96(3) of the Act which also comes into force on 1 August (in relation only to section 49 of the Act); section 96(3) of the Act empowers the Scottish Ministers to issue guidance on how to assess wellbeing.
2. This guidance has been developed by the Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance Policy Delivery Group (membership at Annex A). It has also been informed by consultation, including under section 96(4) of the Act which requires Scottish Ministers to consult local authorities, health boards and other stakeholders as appropriate on guidance in relation to the assessment of wellbeing.
3. This guidance will replace previous guidance and circulars; and should be read in conjunction with Part 6 (Early Learning and Childcare); and, section 96 (Assessment of Wellbeing) of the Act. Further statutory guidance in relation to section 96 more broadly will also be developed.
4. This guidance is complemented by National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare: Building the Ambition  .
5. Throughout this document, the following terms will be used:
- the Act means the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act 2014;
- the 1980 Act means the Education (Scotland) Act 1980;
- the 2000 Act means the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000;
- mandatory early learning and childcare means early learning and childcare which an education authority is under a duty to provide by virtue of section 1(1A) of the 1980 Act and Part 6 of the Act;
- discretionary early learning and childcare means early learning and childcare which an education authority has powers under section 1(1C) of the 1980 Act to deliver; but, are not under a duty to provide  ;
- the 1995 Act means the Children (Scotland) Act 1995;
- the 2004 Act means the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004
- the 2010 Act means the Schools Consultation (Scotland) Act 2010; and
- eligible young child means any eligible pre-school child  .
6 . Early Learning and Childcare means a service, consisting of education and care, of a kind which is suitable in the ordinary case for children who are under school age, regard being had to the importance of interactions and other experiences which support learning and development in a caring and nurturing environment  . This encompasses and replaces terms such as pre-school education, ante pre-school, childcare and wrap around care.