Publication - FOI/EIR release

Questions regarding Early Learning and Childcare: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
11 Dec 2020
Questions regarding Early Learning and Childcare: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000104094
Date received: 27 Oct 2020
Date responded: 24 Nov 2020
Information requested

You requested the following information:

Please provide figures for how many settings are currently providing 1140 funded hours and how many are providing less. Can you please show the figures overall as well as split by Council and split into PVI and LA settings.

Please state whether each Council is being given full funds to provide 1140 hours to all eligible children in that Council and what percentage of these funds is being spent for this purpose.

Please confirm at what date each Council area plans to deliver full 1140 hours provision to eligible children.

Please confirm what effect the Covid-19 guidelines (restricting groups of children to 30-33) have had on the capacity of ELC settings.

Please state how many children under the age of 5 have had to isolate due to a positive Covid test, how many have had to isolate due to a family member isolating or due to a teacher testing positive. Can you please confirm how many children isolating for the reasons of their group being sent home for a positive case have gone on to develop lines and test positive.

Please state how many Covid-19 infections have affected childcare provision, ie. have resulted in nursery group needing to isolate or in nursery closing.

Can you please state how many early years practitioners have tested positive with Covid-19 since ELC settings reopened on 15th July. How many of these needed hospitalised or have died.

In what percentage of under 5s attending ELC settings have reduced hours or reduced/controlled provision of hours (funded and unfunded) resulted in children attending more than one setting where they would have otherwise attended one only. Please include only ELC settings with reduce capacity in comparison to pre-Covid times.

What is the long-term plan on reviewing the Covid-19 guidelines for ELC settings.

How does new tier system affect ELC settings and their guidelines, opening of toddler groups, playgroups, baby classes, softplays and other services for children aged under 5 years.

How are Covid-19 cases and risk being monitored in ELC settings and how is this informing revision of guidelines.

What is the evidence underpinning continued restrictions on groups and activities for under 5s given that children under 12 are exempt from social distancing?

Response

1. Please provide figures for how many settings are currently providing 1140 funded hours and how many are providing less. Can you please show the figures overall as well as split by Council and split into PVI and LA settings?

The Scottish Government does not collect this data from the Private, Voluntary and Independent sector or Local Authorities. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Regular delivery progress reports are published but the Improvement Service, and these provide information at a national level on 1140 delivery.

2. Please state whether each Council is being given full funds to provide 1140 hours to all eligible children in that Council and what percentage of these funds is being spent for this purpose?

A multi-year revenue and capital funding package for the expansion of early learning and childcare was agreed by Scottish Ministers and COSLA Leaders in 2018. The funding was based on local authorities’ estimates of the cost of the expansion adjusted to reflect inflation and NRS 2014 population forecasts. The funding is provided as a specific grant which is ring-fenced and can therefore only be spent on early learning and childcare.

In response to the Covid pandemic and the lifting of the August 2020 implementation date for 1140, councils have been given some flexibility to use the grant in 2020-21 to deliver critical childcare provision for children and families particularly for key workers and vulnerable children. The most recent information we have indicates that after allowing for this flexibility, 96% of ELC funding provided in 2020-21 is still forecast to be used by councils to support 1140.

3. Please confirm at what date each Council area plans to deliver full 1140 hours provision to eligible children.

We are working closely with Local Authorities to reinstate the statutory duty for 1140 hours. No date has been set as yet. In the meantime, I can advise that local authorities are continuing to offer expanded hours where they can, and to progress expansion plans ahead of setting a new statutory date. 14 Local Authorities are offering 1140 hours to all families; and 18 Local Authorities are offering at least 600 hours of funded ELC to all families, and 1140 to some or most families. Of the 18 Local Authorities still to deliver full roll out of 1140 the following indicative dates have been shared with the Scottish Government, however councils may deliver before these dates. It should be noted that no statutory date for 1140 hours has been set and the indicative dates below are subject to change due to future changes in public health measures and/or Covid-19.

  • Glasgow City Council is delivering an 1140 model but is unable to ensure universal provision due to current public health measures
  • Orkney and Perth and Kinross are working towards full role out in January
  • West Dunbartonshire are working towards full role out in April
  • Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, East Dunbartonshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Highland, North Ayrshire, Moray, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian are working towards full roll out in August 2021

4. Please confirm what effect the Covid-19 guidelines (restricting groups of children to 30-33) have had on the capacity of ELC settings.

The Scottish Government does not collect this data from the Private, Voluntary and Independent sector or Local Authorities. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Some of this information may be held by the Improvement Service, to inform published delivery progress reporting.

5. Please state how many children under the age of 5 have had to isolate due to a positive Covid test, how many have had to isolate due to a family member isolating or due to a teacher testing positive. Can you please confirm how many children isolating for the reasons of their group being sent home for a positive case have gone on to develop lines and test positive?

The Scottish Government does not collect data on the number of children under the age of 5 who are self-isolating nor the number who have tested positive for COVID-19. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
However, Public Health Scotland does publish data on the number of children aged 2-4 who have been tested for COVID-19 and the number that tested positive. Graphs can be found at the below link under tab “Trend Charts”, filter “Cases and Testing among children and young people”. The data set can also be downloaded.

Dashboard - Data & intelligence from PHS (isdscotland.org)

In addition, the Scottish Government tracks on a weekly basis the number of children who are not attending open childcare settings for COVID-19 related reasons. We are unable to provide a figure for the total number of children who have not attended at least once over the course of the pandemic.
A time series of this data is available at the below link – use tab “CYP attendance-Time Series” and sort by Childcare.

https://public.tableau.com/profile/sg.eas.learninganalysis#!/vizhome/COVID19-SchoolsandChildcareInformation/Introduction

The latest data as at 17 November from open settings that responded suggests that around 2.8% of children who might have attended were absent due to COVID-19. In comparison, around 7.0% of children were absent for other reasons.

There are a number of caveats that should be noted about the data:

  • Not all children under five attend childcare settings on a regular basis.
  • This data is only provided by settings that are open; if a setting is closed, we cannot say how many children within that setting would not have attended due to COVID-19 had it been open.
  • The data includes children who are absent for all COVID-19 related reasons, for example if they are in quarantine, self-isolating, or ill with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • The data includes children of all ages attending childcare settings, and therefore includes after school care too.
  • The response rate to this survey of childcare settings was only around 50% this week and was particularly low for childminders. The percentages stated above may not be a fair reflection of all open settings.

6. Please state how many Covid-19 infections have affected childcare provision, i.e. have resulted in nursery group needing to isolate or in nursery closing?

The Scottish Government does not collect this data from the Private, Voluntary and Independent sector or Local Authorities. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Some of this information may be held by the Care Inspectorate.

7. Can you please state how many early years practitioners have tested positive with Covid-19 since ELC settings reopened on 15th July. How many of these needed hospitalised or have died?

The Scottish Government does not collect this data from the Private, Voluntary and Independent sector or Local Authorities. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Some of this information may be held by the Care Inspectorate and Public Health Scotland.

8. In what percentage of under 5s attending ELC settings have reduced hours or reduced/controlled provision of hours (funded and unfunded) resulted in children attending more than one setting where they would have otherwise attended one only. Please include only ELC settings with reduce capacity in comparison to pre-Covid times.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

9. What is the long-term plan on reviewing the Covid-19 guidelines for ELC settings.

The Early Learning and Childcare guidance is routinely reviewed a part of the Scottish Government’s monitoring of Covid – 19 ( see answer to Question 11). The Coronavirus Education Recovery Group and its ELC workstream oversee the development of safe operating guidance for the sector. Updates to this guidance are informed by advice from the Coronavirus Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, as well as monitoring of key data, and agreed with Public Health Scotland, Early Learning and Childcare workstream Stakeholder Group and the Private, voluntary and independent Sector Stakeholder Recovery Group.

10. How does new tier system affect ELC settings and their guidelines, opening of toddler groups, playgroups, baby classes, softplays and other services for children aged under 5 years? All of the information you have requested is already available online. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. Scotland’s Strategic Framework https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-19-scotlands-strategic-framework sets out the levels for ELC and formal childcare and unregulated childcare. See annex https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-19-scotlands-strategic-framework/pages/9/ The guidance for early learning and childcare services published on 30 October provides detail on level 3 and 4 of Scotland’s Strategic Framework https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-learning-and-childcare-services/

The following guidance, in relation to organised unregulated activities, provides detail on Scotland’s Strategic Framework for toddler groups, playgroups, baby classes, softplays and other services for children aged under 5 years

In line with the new Strategic Framework, soft play centres in areas under level 0 and 1 protection measures have been able to reopen from 2 November, provided they comply with the relevant guidance.

11. How are Covid-19 cases and risk being monitored in ELC settings and how is this informing revision of guidelines?

As part of the monitoring of Covid-19 data by Scottish Government, its partners, and its advisors, a wide range of data is collected through Public Health Scotland, Test and Protect, The Care Inspectorate and through analysis provided by SG analytical teams and by independent academic and scientific groups. This information is considered by policy teams in Scottish Government, and discussed jointly with partners at the Coronavirus Education Recovery Group. The minutes of this group are published. Evidence is also considered by the Chief Medical Officer, and particularly the Coronavirus Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s issues. The minutes and advice of this group are published. The information and advice is reviewed as it is developed, and guidance is updated as required in response to evidence.

12. What is the evidence underpinning continued restrictions on groups and activities for under 5s given that children under 12 are exempt from social distancing?

All of the information you have requested is already available online. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

The published advice from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues underpins the position in ELC provision and for organised unregulated activities.

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