The Early Years Framework

Steps the Scottish Government, local partners and practitioners in early years services need to take to give all children in Scotland the best start in life.


It is during our very earliest years and even pre-birth that a large part of the pattern for our future adult life is set. The early years are therefore a key opportunity to shape a Scotland of the future which is smarter, healthier, safer and stronger, wealthier and fairer and greener.

This framework seeks to maximise positive opportunities for children to get the start in life that will provide a strong platform for the future success of Scotland. We know that children are the future of Scotland and we know that early years experiences provide a gateway to learning and skills that will power Scotland's knowledge economy. Equally importantly, it seeks to address the needs of those children whose lives, opportunities and ambitions are being constrained by Scotland's historic legacies of poverty, poor health, poor attainment and unemployment.

The concordat between the Scottish Government and COSLA sets a new context for policy development. It provides a new focus on outcomes and a new opportunity to tackle the big issues facing Scotland. National and local government are determined to seize this opportunity and this framework, alongside Equally Well and Achieving our Potential, represents a new dawn in social policy.

At the heart of this framework is a desire to see investment in early years focused on building success and reducing the costs of failure. This will mean a shift from intervening only when a crisis happens, to prevention and early intervention. In turn, that will mean providing a supportive environment for children and the earliest possible identification of any additional support that may be required. It is not about throwing new money at old problems, or narrow initiatives. It is about a fundamental shift in philosophy and approach that embraces the role of parents and communities and supports them with engaging, high quality services that meet their needs.

The Scottish Government and COSLA have worked together with a wide variety of partners to develop this framework. It represents a new approach - developing policy in partnership, recognising that different local areas have different needs and moving away from a centrally driven, inflexible approach, which has not delivered what is needed. Local partners will have a great deal of flexibility in implementing the framework, and we believe are already convinced of the case for action. Doing nothing is not an option if we are to achieve a step-change in outcomes.

We want to record our thanks to all those who participated in the task groups that supported this process and who contributed their expertise, either through membership of the groups or by providing the groups with material to support their discussions. We also want to thank the parents and children who participated in the research we commissioned to support this framework.

The publication of this document is not the end of the story. Rather, it is an important milestone in an ongoing partnership that we are determined to build on as we move forward with implementation. We look forward to doing so for the benefit of Scotland's children.

Adam Ingram photo Isabel Hutton photo
Adam Ingram
Minister for Children and Early Years
Councillor Isabel Hutton
COSLA Spokesperson on Education,
Children & Young People
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