Progress made within the Education system: FOI release

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

Information requested

You asked the following questions:

  1. What progress has been made on the development for all-year-round school age childcare systems the needs of children and families?
  2. What progress has been made towards the development of high quality early learning and childcare for 1 and 2 years olds?
  3. What steps have the government taken to ensure access to “Bairns’ Hoose” services for all children referred support?
  4. The total investment into the Scottish Attainment challenge in each of the last two financial years?
  5. Progress on the implementation of a refreshed approach to the Scottish attainment challenge?
  6. What progress has been made on the development of an accredited qualification and registration programme for Additional Support Needs assistants?
  7. How many of the 17 new school due to start construction between September 2022 and September 2023 have begun construction?
  8. What progress has been made in taking forward the objectives set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation for a skills and education system that meets the demands of an everchanging economy and society?


1. The Scottish Government is committed to designing and delivering a new system of school age childcare that provides care before and after school, all year round, and supports parents – particularly on low incomes – to have secure and stable employment. Those on the lowest incomes will pay nothing. To test innovative models of school age childcare for families most at risk of poverty, we supported 18 projects (2020-2022) through the Access to Childcare Fund to deliver school age childcare at no cost to families on low incomes.

Building on the learning from our service-level projects, in October 2022 we began school age childcare provision in four early adopting communities across Scotland, targeted to support families most at risk of poverty.

This year we are taking a range of action to continue developing tests of change across communities to provide targeted school age childcare services. This includes:

  • Continued funding for our Access to Childcare projects
  • Funding to deliver and expand our Early Adopting Communities projects
  • Summer holiday support for local authorities
  • Capital funding to improve School Age Childcare spaces through the Inspiring School Age

Childcare Spaces fund

  • Working with the Scottish Football Association to support local football clubs to provide after school and holiday clubs.

2. In the 2021 Programme for Government we made a commitment to expand funded early learning and childcare (ELC) to 1 and 2 year olds, starting in this Parliament with those families who will benefit most. In the 2022 Programme for Government we further committed to using 2022/23 to focus on research and insights, in order to build the robust evidence base needed to inform the development of a new offer for 1 and 2 year olds.

Following the publication of the Policy Prospectus in April 2023 where we reaffirmed our commitment to providing funded ELC for 1 and 2 year olds and we stated that by 2026 we will have developed a model of funded early learning and childcare for 1 and 2 year olds focusing on those who need it most. We recognise that children aged 1 and 2 years old have different needs to those aged 3 or 4 and therefore our new offer for younger children will be guided by what the evidence tells us about what is best for children and families.

We are engaging with the early learning sector and academic experts to design how ELC for 1 and 2 year olds can best support children and families throughout Scotland.

3. Bairns' Hoose standards, commissioned by the Scottish Government, were published on 31 May 2023. The Scottish Government then published a suite of documents on 1 June 2023: our Refreshed vision, values and approach, Children and young people: participation and engagement plan and Bairns' Hoose - project plan: progress report and pathfinder delivery plan, which sets out the action taken to date and how we will trial the new Bairns’ Hoose Standards in Pathfinder Partnerships. Applications to become Pathfinder Partnerships opened on 12 June and will close on 21 August. The Pathfinder Phase will be followed by a Pilot Phase and then National Rollout. Further information is available on our new website

4. Total investment in the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2021/22 was published in the Education, Children and Young People Committee ‘Scottish Attainment Challenge Report’, having been provided by the Scottish Government, and may be accessed here: Scottish Attainment Challenge Report.

For the 2022/23 financial year, final investment figures are not yet available and will be published in due course.

5. The refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge was launched in March 2022, introducing a number of changes to the programme at national, regional and local level. This includes the introduction of Strategic Equity Funding (SEF), replacing Challenge Authority and Schools Programme Funding, and Local Stretch Aims through the Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress. The programme also continues to empower headteachers to provide support for children and young people impacted by poverty through Pupil Equity Funding. Care Experienced Children and Young People funding supports the attainment and wellbeing of care experienced children and a number of national programmes are also supported.

As part of the launch of the refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge, the evaluation cycle moved from an annual to a multi-year approach, aiming to build an evidence base over time and offering the opportunity to explore different aspects of the programme over points in time.

Some aspects of the evaluation, such as the National Improvement Framework (NIF) measures, will still be reported on annually or on a more regular basis. Other aspects will be considered across the five year period, with interim and summative reporting built in to the multi-year approach. Our full evaluation strategy for the Attainment Scotland Fund during this parliamentary term can be accessed here: Attainment Scotland Fund - 2022 to 2026: evaluation strategy - (

6. We are progressing work to explore options for the development of an accredited qualification and registration programme for Additional Support Needs assistants via Bute House Agreement Exploration Group. This working group, including representatives from local authorities, COSLA, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, Education Scotland and Scottish Government officials, has been formed and is scheduled to bring forward final proposals by autumn 2023.

7. Nine Learning Estate Investment Programme schools are currently in the design development stage and progressing towards construction. Eight Learning Estate Investment Programme schools have started construction between September 2022 and July 2023.

8. An update on progress with the Skilled Workforce Programme of the National Economic Strategy was published on 21 June and is available at this weblink: National Strategy for Economic Transformation: annual progress report June 2023 - ( In addition to the updates provided within this report, we have published the findings of the independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape on 7 June 2023, which can be found here: Skills delivery landscape: independent review - ( and published our Purpose and Principles for Post-school education, research skills on 28 June 2023: Post-school education, research and skills - purpose and principles - (

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