Publication - Advice and guidance

Funding follows the child and the national standard for early learning and childcare providers: operating guidance

Published: 18 Dec 2018
Directorate:
Early Learning and Childcare Programme Directorate
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9781787814813

This document sets out how the Funding Follows the Child approach will operate.

63 page PDF

1.1 MB

63 page PDF

1.1 MB

Contents
Funding follows the child and the national standard for early learning and childcare providers: operating guidance
Section 2: The National Standard For Early Learning And Childcare Operating Guidance

63 page PDF

1.1 MB

Section 2: The National Standard For Early Learning And Childcare Operating Guidance

This section includes guidance to assist settings in interpreting and demonstrating the National Standard criteria and highlights key supporting documents to aid with implementation.

The criteria focus on what children and their families should expect from their ELC experience, regardless of where they access their funded entitlement in local authority, private, or third sector settings, or through a childminder. This will ensure that, as part of the 'provider neutral' Funding Follows the Child approach, there is consistency of high quality provision across all funded provider types. It is also underpinned by the regulations in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 which applies to all care services across Scotland, including daycare of children and childminding settings.

Criteria 1 - Staffing, leadership and management

The single most important driver of the quality of a child's ELC experience is a high quality workforce. The 2017 NHS Health Scotland evidence review on Childcare Quality and Children's Outcomes found that higher qualified practitioners, leadership and an experienced, competent and confident workforce provide a better quality environment for children. We also know from the Growing Up in Scotland Study that Care Inspectorate evaluations on quality of staffing are linked to children's outcomes.

Criteria for All Settings (excluding Childminders):

  • Sub-criteria 1.1 - Care Inspectorate quality evaluations are good or better on themes that relate to quality of staffing, management and leadership.

How do settings meet this criteria?

The setting is evaluated by the Care Inspectorate as good or above in the quality themes of; Quality of management and leadership; and Quality of staffing.

  • Sub-criteria 1.2 - All support workers, practitioners and lead practitioners/managers working in the setting and included in the adult: child ratios must have either obtained the benchmark qualification for their role or, if they are still within their first 5 years of registering with the SSSC, have started to work towards this.

How do settings meet this criteria?

We recognise that staff qualifications are not the only factor that will affect the quality of staffing. Experience, motivation and the ability to build positive, loving and trusting relationships will also have an important impact alongside key skills in engaging, interacting and enriching children's ELC experiences. However, the recent NHS Health Scotland evidence review on quality of ELC and child outcomes found that highly trained staff are better equipped through training and professional development to deliver the necessary care, nurturing, love and support required for children's holistic developmental needs.

The registration of the ELC workforce is regulated by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). Since 2011, all registered ELC managers/lead practitioners must either hold the SCQF level 9 benchmark qualification or agree that their registration is subject to a condition that they secure this within their first period of registration. For practitioner grade, the benchmark qualification is SCQF level 7, and for support workers, the benchmark qualification is SCQF Level 6.

Those working with children in daycare of children settings are required to register with SSSC within six months of beginning employment in the ELC sector. They must maintain their registration in line with SSSC guidance. The period of registration is five years and it is expected that staff achieve their qualification within this timeframe or before. It is therefore possible for someone to be employed for several years before they secure the relevant qualification. The introduction of this sub-criteria ensures that all support workers, practitioners and lead practitioners working in settings delivering the funded entitlement have at least started to work towards their qualification.

The criteria does not apply to support workers or to practitioners who are not included in the adult:child ratios, who may wish to gain some experience of working in the sector before committing to undertaking a professional qualification. It also does not apply to volunteers who work within the setting carrying out non-routine activities on an occasional basis.

If any practitioners or lead practitioners are unable to obtain a place on a qualification course and are, therefore, unable to start working towards their benchmark qualification, they must provide evidence of application and response from the training provider.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

We are working with delivery partners to consider options to most effectively support private and third sector providers to recruit and train additional staff to fill vacancies, including supporting providers with the cost of training.

We are working with COSLA to enable providers in the private and third sector to post job opportunities for free on My Jobs Scotland (MJS) in the period up to 2020.

We are continuing to increase the number of ELC Modern Apprenticeships by 10% each year to 2020, and to encourage a broader age profile, including more older workers into the sector, we have increased the contribution rate for over 25s from £700 to £1,700 from April 2018.

  • Sub-criteria 1.3 - Sustainable staffing structures are in place which meet the recommended adult: child ratios.

How do settings meet this criteria?

The Health and Social Care Standards, which set out what families should expect when using any service within the health or social care sector, including ELC, make it clear that children's needs should be met by the right number of people and that staff working in the setting should have time to support, care for and to speak with children and their families.

Settings will be expected to plan their staffing structures to meet these ratios:

  • For two year olds this is 1:5; and
  • For those aged 3 and over it is 1:8 where children attend for more than 4 hours per day, and 1:10 if they attend for less than 4 hours per day.

It should be noted that the Care Inspectorate will be able to vary the ratios where, for example, there are a number of children with additional support needs or the layout of premises means that extra staff are required to ensure children are adequately supervised.

Staff included in the ratios need not have secured their benchmark qualification but they must be registered with the SSSC as either a support worker, lead practitioner or practitioner grade and, as sub-criteria 1.3 makes clear, should have started to work towards the qualification.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

Guidance on the number of children that a setting can accommodate per member of staff is available on the Care Inspectorate website.

  • Sub-criteria 1.4 - All SSSC registered staff in the setting are achieving a minimum of 12 hours per year of Continuous Professional Learning.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Quality of staffing is not determined solely by the proportion of qualified practitioners working in a setting. Continuous Professional Learning (CPL) can be just as, if not more important than a formal qualification, especially where the benchmark qualification was achieved many years ago.

The SSSC registration requirement is that workers in daycare of children services complete 10 days, or 60 hours, of post registration training and learning over their five year registration period. This applies to support workers, practitioners and managers/lead practitioners. We would expect to see this suitably spread over each year of the registration period so that CPL is routinely embedded in practice.

12 hours a year of CPL is the minimum requirement, and where staff need or would like to undertake more hours of CPL than required, funded providers will be expected to support this as far as possible, given the business needs of the setting. Time that staff spend working towards their benchmark qualification can be counted towards the CPL requirement but this will not preclude them from undertaking other learning and development opportunities.

Teachers who are working in ELC will be subject to their registration conditions with the General Teaching Council of Scotland and will be expected to undertake a minimum of 35 hours a year of CPL, in line with their requirements.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

There is a wide range of CPL available to the ELC sector. To help staff identify and access this, we are currently working with the Care Inspectorate to make available, on their website, a national directory of CPL that will allow them to search for opportunities by topic and local authority area. We expect this to be available in early 2019. We are also developing a national programme of online CPL that will be free of charge for all ELC settings by the end of 2019.

  • Sub-criteria 1.5 - Staff new to delivering funded ELC within the last year are familiar with the content of the most up-to-date version of the national induction resource.

How do settings meet this criteria?

The ELC workforce will grow significantly in the period to 2020 to deliver the expansion to 1140 hours. This includes managers/lead practitioners, practitioners and support workers and it is vital that they are all properly inducted into their new roles and supported in their practice. To ensure that children continue to experience high quality care and support, the induction of this new workforce will need to be carefully planned and resourced.

The new national induction resource has been created for all staff who are new to delivering ELC to ensure that they are well supported in developing the skills and understanding they need in their role. New staff working in ELC will need to ensure they are familiar with this resource to meet this criteria.

The SSSC Codes of Practice for Employers already requires employers to give their staff clear information about their roles and responsibilities, relevant legislation and the policies and procedures they must follow in their work. Many employers will therefore already have a local induction programme for new staff.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

The national induction resource will be available on the Learning Zone on the SSSC website. It will provide consistent information to new staff about, for example, codes of practice, standards and qualifications and will also make them aware of the range of existing and new support available. In addition, it will offer some reflective questions that new staff could explore with their mentor during their first few months in post.

To support mentors, the Scottish Government will be developing an online professional learning module on mentoring new staff in ELC. When this becomes available, this document will be up-dated to include a link. In the meantime, useful resources are Step Into Leadership which provides a range of mentoring tools to the wider social services sector and the SSSC guide to mentoring in ELC.

Criteria for Childminding Settings:

  • Sub-criteria 1.1- Care Inspectorate quality evaluations are good or better on themes that relate to quality of staffing, management and leadership.

How do childminders meet this criteria?

The setting is evaluated by the Care Inspectorate as good or above in the quality themes of; Quality of management and leadership; and Quality of staffing, where applicable.

  • Sub-criteria 1.2 - From the implementation of the full roll-out of 1140 hours, childminders delivering the funded entitlement must have either obtained the benchmark qualification for ELC practitioners or, if they are still within their first 5 years of delivering the funded hours, be working towards achieving this qualification.

How do childminders meet this criteria?

The introduction of a minimum qualification requirement for childminders delivering the funded entitlement will provide reassurance, in respect of quality of provision, for parents and carers when they are making their choice of ELC provider.

This will mean that childminders delivering the funded entitlement are required to hold, or be working towards, the same qualification level (SCQF Level 7 with at least 75 credits) as a practitioner working in an ELC setting. This will help ensure that, as part of the 'provider neutral' approach, there is consistency in quality across all provider types.

If a childminder is unable to obtain a place on a qualification course and is, therefore, unable to start working towards their benchmark qualification, they must provide evidence of application and response from the training provider.

The qualification requirement will not apply to childminding assistants.

Childminders will continue to register as settings with the Care Inspectorate.

What support will be available to help childminders meet this criteria?

Information about the SSSC recognised qualifications for practitioner level workers is available on the SSSC website. For childminders already in practice and wishing to undertake a work-based qualification that builds on their experience and prior learning, the SVQ Social Services (Children and Young People) is likely to be an attractive route.

We are working with training providers and colleges to explore how relevant prior experience, training and qualifications can be recognised and accredited towards a mandatory qualification. As a first step, the Care Inspectorate's 'Your Childminding Journey' (a learning and development resource for childminders) is being further developed to help make links to the National Occupational Standards at SCQF level 7 (on which the SVQ is based). This will help childminders gather evidence of prior learning, understand what evidence might be relevant to present to colleges and training providers and identify any gaps in their knowledge and areas for further study before deciding on a route to qualification.

The Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) have also developed a workplace award that offers 12 credits at SCQF level 7. This qualification has been mapped by the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) to the SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualifications) practitioner level qualification which means that childminders who complete units, or the whole workplace award, will generate evidence that can be used as recognition of prior learning and give them some credits towards the full benchmark qualification.

We will also work with SVQ training providers to ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place that allows childminders to access training in a flexible way that does not require them to take time away from delivering their services to children. The SVQ Social Services (Children and Young People) is already offered by several colleges in a flexible way that meets the needs of childminders.

Provided the applicant's individual income does not exceed £25,000 per annum, fee grants for part time courses are available from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). Another source of part-funding is the Skills Development Scotland Individual Training Account. We will explore whether other dedicated funding needs to be made available to help childminders to fund their qualifications.

  • Sub-criteria 1.3 - The staffing structure in the setting is adequate to meet the recommended adult: child ratios.

How do childminders meet this criteria?

Childminders will be expected to plan their service to meet these ratios.

For childminders, the required ratio is 1:6 children under 12 years of whom 1:3 for those under school age and only 1 under one year old.

What support will be available to help childminders meet this criteria?

Guidance on the number of children that a childminding setting can accommodate per member of staff is available on the Care Inspectorate website.

  • Sub-criteria 1.4 - All childminders delivering the funded entitlement are achieving a minimum of 12 hours per year of Continuous Professional Learning.

How do childminders meet this criteria?

As childminders are not required to register with SSSC, they have previously been exempt from the requirement to complete 10 days, or 60 hours, of post registration training and learning over a five year registration period.

From 2020 childminders who are delivering the funded hours will be required to achieve a minimum of 12 hours per year of Continuous Professional Learning (CPL).

This will promote parity in expectation of professional learning across all funded providers and ensure that, as part of our 'provider neutral' approach, there is consistency in quality across all provider types.

What support will be available to help childminders meet this criteria?

SCMA, The Care and Learning Alliance, and Early Years Scotland as well as a range of other organisations provide a range of flexible CPL for childminders[3].

Local authorities delivering CPL to funded providers will be expected to make their training accessible (as many already do) to childminders delivering funded hours in their area.

The national programme of online CPL that we are developing for the ELC sector (see text at sub-criteria 1.4) will also be available to childminders.

  • Sub-criteria 1.5 - All childminders newly registered to deliver ELC within the last year have undertaken appropriate induction.

How do childminders meet this criteria?

Childminders should be able to evidence that they have undertaken an appropriate induction whether through their local authority, through a national organisation or other channels.

What support will be available to help childminders meet this criteria?

There is a range of induction support available to childminders. The Care Inspectorate's 'Your Childminding Journey – a Learning and Development Resource', not only supports established childminders to identify professional development needs, but also provides induction guidance for new childminders. It sets out clear quality statements that childminders should aim to meet at application, registration and post-registration stages and also provides links to useful resources. The resource is free and accessible to all childminders.

In addition, SCMA offer induction support, which includes guidance on setting up and running a business as well as on how to deliver the best outcomes for children. Other organisations and some local authorities also have induction programmes which childminders may be able to access.

Criteria 2 - Development of children's cognitive skills, health and wellbeing

We know that the socio-economic gap in children's outcomes opens up well before children start primary school. Narrowing this gap in the years before school must be part of our strategy to promote equity and excellence for all.

Development of children's cognitive development, health and wellbeing should underpin all aspects of practice in ELC and this criteria sets out how settings can demonstrate how they are supporting outcomes for children in relation to these aspects of their development.

Criteria for All Settings

  • Sub-criteria 2.1 - Care Inspectorate quality evaluations are good or better on the theme relating to quality of care and support.

How do settings meet this criteria?

The setting is evaluated by the Care Inspectorate as good or above in the quality theme of Quality of care and support.

  • Sub-criteria 2.2 - The setting must have a framework to support children's learning that is informed by national guidance and is appropriate to support individual children's development and learning focussed on active learning through play.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Each setting's framework for learning will be unique to that setting, taking account of local needs and circumstances and based on agreed shared values. It is within this framework that settings provide experiences and opportunities to support individual children's learning and development.

The setting's framework to support children's learning should:

  • be informed by national guidance and pay close attention to achieving challenge and enjoyment, breadth, progression, depth, personalisation and choice, coherence and relevance;
  • have a clear purpose which is understood by practitioners;
  • provide equity of opportunity for all;
  • secure children's wellbeing and rights and reflect children as capable and competent learners; and
  • reflect the changing and unique needs of children, families and community.

The experiences and opportunities that settings offer to children should:

  • be based firmly in play and active learning;
  • be well matched to the stages of development of children attending, and build on their previous experiences;
  • actively promote and develop the essential aspects for early learning: wellbeing, communication, curiosity, inquiry and creativity;
  • support children to develop early literacy and numeracy skills and health and wellbeing;
  • be carefully planned to ensure all children experience continuity and progression in their learning;
  • take full account of individual children's needs, personalities, interests and stage of development in their personal plan;
  • be flexible, responsive and provide opportunities for children to take forward their own ideas and interests;
  • be enriched by contributions from partnerships with parents, carers and the wider community; and
  • provide opportunities for children to experience high quality play both indoors and outdoors.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

Settings will find support for self-evaluation for self-improvement in this area in Quality Indicator 2.2: Curriculum of How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare?. Professional learning resources and case studies to support practice are also available on the National Improvement Hub.

The Care Inspectorate have also produced Our Creative Journey which showcases good practice examples of promoting creativity in ELC as well as other children's services. It is based on the Getting it Right for Every Child wellbeing indicators and is aimed at promoting good practice in all types of ELC settings, to help all services aspire to be the best they can be and have the greatest impact on children's lives.

We will also be developing an online programme of continuous professional learning for the ELC sector which will include a module on understanding curriculum rationale.

Criteria 3 - Physical Environment

As we expand ELC provision, it is important that we have the right physical infrastructure, both indoors and outdoors, to improve outcomes for children. This includes capacity but also appropriate and stimulating care and learning environments for all children in ELC.

We know the benefits of outdoor learning, exercise and play for children. Playing, learning and having fun outdoors helps to improve wellbeing and resilience, increase health through physical activity, provides children with the opportunity to develop a life-long appreciation of the natural world and has a positive impact on educational attainment.

Criteria for All Settings

  • Sub-criteria 3.1 - Care Inspectorate quality evaluations of good or better on the theme relating to quality of environment.

How do settings meet this criteria?

The setting is evaluated by the Care Inspectorate as good or above in the quality theme of Quality of environment.

What support will be available to help settings to meet this criteria?

Space to Grow: Design guidance for early learning and childcare and out of school care services aims to maximise positive experiences for children and improve the quality of care and learning by helping ELC services to think innovatively about the design of their settings. Although the guidance provides many insights into what constitutes good design, illustrated through case studies from Scotland and further afield, it acknowledges that all environments are unique. The focus throughout remains on the positive impact a well-designed indoor and outdoor environment has on improving outcomes and experiences for children.

The concept of the environment is wider than just buildings, space and infrastructure. Building the Ambition offers a wider concept of the child's immediate environment stating it should be "flexible in offering choices and carefully selected resources which capture interest to create moments which spark children's play" and provide access to "props and spaces both inside and outside where children can play". The key is to establish a safe, secure and inspiring physical environment for children indoors and outdoors, with spaces where they can play together, be alone or with a few others, and have access to materials and resources that support creativity and learning.

  • Sub-criteria 3.2 - Children have daily access to outdoor play and they regularly experience outdoor play in a natural environment as part of their funded ELC offer.

How do settings meet this criteria?

The expansion of ELC will result in many children spending more time on a daily basis in settings, therefore, it is vitally important that outdoor play is offered daily in line with the Health and Social Care Standards which state that 'as a child I play outdoors every day and regularly explore a natural environment'.

Outdoor play is an essential part of developing children's holistic wellbeing and can offer a wide range of learning as well as contributing to their skills development in a different context. When children are attending settings for full days, at least part of that day should be spent outdoors. Wherever practical this should include the freedom of choice to move between indoor and outdoor environments. The Care Inspectorate define an outdoor play area as:

"any area out of doors, that is available to the children attending the service. The area may be shared with others or available to the wider community"

As part of their funded entitlement, children should also have the opportunity and be encouraged to spend time outdoors within a natural environment. We would define the natural environment as 'green space', which could include but not be limited to, wild landscapes such as woodlands, forests, beaches, hillsides but also public parks, gardens, and open green areas.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

In My World Outdoors, the Care Inspectorate highlight the importance of outdoor play, provide guidance for practitioners and share best practice (including case studies) from across Scotland. This resource can be used to inform practice outdoors alongside national guidance produced by other organisations.

There are a range of resources and case studies available on the National Improvement Hub to provide support for professional development in outdoor learning across the 3-18 curriculum.

We will also be developing an online programme of continuous professional learning for the ELC sector which will include a module on outdoor learning. In addition, we will publish by the end of December 2018, in collaboration with Inspiring Scotland and the Care Inspectorate, 'Out to Play – practical guidance for creating outdoor play experiences in early learning and childcare' providing online step-by-step guidance and practical advice for practitioners on how to access outdoor spaces to create safe, nurturing and inspiring outdoor learning experiences.

Criteria 4 - Self-Evaluation and Improvement

Self-evaluation (or self-assessment) has been a feature of improving ELC for many years. The Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland national self-evaluation frameworks are designed to promote effective self-evaluation as the first important stage in the process of achieving self-improvement. In addition, the self-assessment submitted to the Care Inspectorate for childminders acts as a reflective tool for these professionals alongside 'Your Childminding Journey'.

Effective, collaborative self-evaluation, as part of a wider quality assurance approach, requires a cycle of activity based around answering three questions:

  • How are we doing?
  • How do we know?
  • What are we going to do now?

Using this framework will help provide an effective structure that will support ELC settings to undertake on-going self-evaluation and to identify and set out actions to secure further improvement.

Criteria for All Settings

  • Sub-criteria 4.1 - The setting uses relevant national self-evaluation frameworks to self-evaluate and systematically identify strengths and areas for improvement.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Settings should use relevant self-evaluation frameworks and national best practice guidance to reflect on and evaluate their current provision. This should be completed in collaboration with children, parents, carers and staff as much as possible. Systematic and responsive self-evaluation is an important part of developing the service.

Robust and transparent quality assurance systems should be used to create a culture of continuous improvement. There should be clear evidence of how decisions about change have been made and what the service plans to do to achieve this change. Any improvements identified should be focussed on improving outcomes for children and families in line with the National Improvement Framework, alongside local and setting specific priorities.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare? has been developed by Education Scotland to support settings to self-evaluate and identify strengths and areas for improvement.

The Care Inspectorate is also developing guidance on self-evaluation and supporting continuous improvement for settings which will be published before March 2019 in line with the new Health and Social Care Standards.

The online national programme of CPL mentioned above will also include a module on improving understanding of, and approaches to undertaking, self-evaluation.

  • Sub-criteria 4.2 – The setting has a clear plan, developed in line with self-evaluation evidence, evidence from Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate scrutiny activities, research and national practice guidance, to continuously improve the quality of provision and outcomes for children and families.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Children and families should benefit from a service which is well-led and managed. Settings should proactively recognise areas for improvement and plan effectively to make changes which will positively impact on children's ELC experience.

Developing a manageable, measureable improvement plan with a small number of well-considered priorities will support settings to continuously improve. Staff should be motivated and engaged in taking forward improvements in the setting and should be able to show how the changes they have made have improved outcomes for children and families. By planning improvements systematically and sharing this plan with everyone in the setting, the service will support the success of any improvements and minimise the risk of continuity in ELC being jeopardised.

The plan should be a working document which is regularly reviewed to help ensure progress towards achieving the identified outcomes and improvements. For settings who operate more than one type of service, for example, where a nursery is linked to a primary school, it could be developed as part of the wider improvement plan or as a stand-alone plan for the ELC setting.

Where settings have been inspected by the Care Inspectorate and/or Education Scotland, they should ensure that any areas for improvement which are identified through this process are included as a part of the improvement agenda for the setting. Clear links to these evaluations should be made within the improvement plan and key actions to address any areas for improvement included. If the service falls below 'good' in any of the areas evaluated by Education Scotland or the Care Inspectorate, the local authority, as the primary guarantors of quality should support the setting to improve. Where necessary, the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland may also provide follow-up support to a setting to help them address any areas for development identified through their scrutiny activity.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

Work is underway in Education Scotland to develop improvement planning guidance aligning with the advice created on improvement planning for the National Improvement Framework.

Criteria 5 - Parent and carer engagement and involvement in the life of the setting

High quality ELC should support parents and carers in their role as the primary influence on children's outcomes. Promoting parent and carer engagement and involvement in children's learning while they attend ELC is an important opportunity to make parents and carers feel valued, instil them with confidence in their role and demonstrate that settings involved in their child's life are accessible and approachable.

Families should feel accepted, valued and respected by the service as this is an essential part of promoting relationships that impact positively on the consistency and continuity of care and learning for children in ELC. By having these close relationships, families will feel secure and valued, promoting a collaborative culture where everyone can be involved in the life of the setting, including identifying and taking forward developments.

Criteria for All Settings

  • Sub-criteria 5.1 - There is open and regular communication with parents and carers about the work of the setting and families are meaningfully involved in influencing change.

How do settings meet this criteria?

In terms of communication and collaboration, settings should:

  • create a welcoming, loving and supportive culture where everyone is accepted, valued and treated with respect and dignity;
  • develop information and advice related to the setting in consultation with parents and carers, ensuring this is accessible in a format or language that is right for them;
  • develop a range of simple and effective ways to communicate and collaborate with parents and carers which is in line with their needs and circumstances, including the use of social media or other forms of electronic communication;
  • take a strategic approach by asking parents and carers what would work for them;
  • facilitate opportunities for parents and carers to be involved in self-evaluation and planning improvements in the service, directly impacting on change and quality, for example, through Parent Forums or regular consultation strategies; and
  • nurture a mutually supportive link between the home, the setting and any other organisations involved in the child's early years.

Parents and carers should understand the role they can play and feel empowered to contribute to decisions.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

Learning Together is Scotland's national action plan on parent and carer involvement, parent and carer engagement, family learning and learning at home for 2018 – 2021. It makes clear that it is only through positive relationships – relationships between families and those working with children and young people, relationships based on trust, mutual respect and partnership - that we will achieve the best outcomes for children. It provides guidance and advice on how to engage with families meaningfully and in a supportive way.

  • Sub-criteria 5.2 - Parents and carers are supported to engage in their child's learning and development.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Parents and carers should be actively involved in determining and planning for the holistic wellbeing needs of their child. Being a part of creating and reviewing their child's personal plan will allow them to be involved in ensuring their child's holistic wellbeing is well supported. It is important that they, and their child, are recognised as experts in their own experiences and settings need to work closely with them to best meet the needs of the children in their care. Positive and trusting relationships between staff and families is essential to the success of this approach.

In addition, research suggests that involving parents and carers in their child's learning is a key indicator in improving outcomes for children. Settings should support parents and carers to regularly and meaningfully engage in their child's learning at home and within their setting, where possible. Consultation with parents and carers should concentrate on how they can meet the learning needs of the family as a whole as well as the child. This promotes lifelong learning in the setting. This should be planned in a way which helps families to learn and develop as a whole and focussed on ensuring children have the best start in life.

This could mean: informing and discussing with parents and carers what is happening with their children's learning; encouraging parents and carers to share skills and knowledge to enrich the curriculum; providing them with information, advice and guidance on child development generally; supporting them to engage in their children's learning at home; providing or sign-posting to opportunities for families to learn together; and offering targeted support to families to help them to engage in a variety of learning opportunities which meet their individual needs.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

The Care Inspectorate will publish guidance to support the development of personal plans in ELC next year. This will ensure that settings are clear on the expectations of legislation and support them to develop plans which improve children's outcomes in consultation with parents and carers.

In addition, a module on supporting parents and carers to further engage in their children's learning will be included in the national online programme of CPL being developed for the ELC sector.

The Scottish Government will develop an online resource for parents and carers to empower them to make informed choices about the right ELC setting for their child. The Scottish Government will work with parents, carers and parent organisations to develop the resource, which will be available by March 2019.

We will also work with providers and local authorities to develop a national information resource that All Settings and local authorities can draw on and circulate to parents to allow for consistent messaging.

By March 2021, Education Scotland will develop and publish a range of further additions on parent and carer involvement within its professional learning resources including the 'Engaging Parents and Families Toolkit'. This will support further improvements in the levels of parental involvement with ELC settings.

Criteria 6 - Inclusion

As the Funding Follows the Child approach offers more flexibility and increased choice for parents and carers, it is vital to ensure that provision remains accessible for all children. An inclusive approach, with an appreciation of diversity and an ambition for all to achieve to their full potential, is essential to getting it right for every child and raising attainment for all. Inclusion is the cornerstone to help us achieve equity and excellence in education for all of our children and young people.

ELC provision must therefore be delivered in a way that ensures equality of access for, and accounts for the varying needs of, all children. Children should be able to learn free from discrimination and in settings which actively tackle health and social inequalities. Additional support may be required, over the short or the long term, to overcome needs arising from the care and learning environment, family circumstances, health needs or disability or social and emotional factors. Those that may require additional support may include, for example, children with disabilities, children with English as an additional language, Gypsy/Travellers, highly able children, asylum seeking / refugee children and Service children (children from Armed Forces families).

The Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance makes it clear that additional support for learning is required to help a child or young person to overcome a barrier to their learning. The support need not be provided in an educational establishment, and is directed to learning in its broadest sense. It also outlines the importance of joint partnership planning and working – for example between NHS Boards and other local authorities - to deliver additional support for learning where required.

While not every setting will be able to meet the needs of every child, settings will be expected to adhere to the following:

Criteria for All Settings

  • Sub-criteria 6.1 - The setting must comply with the duties under the Equality Act 2010.

How do settings meet this criteria?

The setting should ensure that the practice, policies and procedures in their setting are in line with the Equality Act 2010. The setting should be able to show how they are meeting the Health and Social Care Standards related to this criteria such as:

"I am accepted and valued whatever my needs, ability, gender, age faith, mental health status, race, background or sexual orientation."

Training and development for staff on the main features of this Act may be beneficial and staff should be able to understand how their practice ensures excellence and equity for all.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

The Equality Act 2010 protects children from discrimination and harassment based on 'protected characteristics'[4].The Act makes it unlawful for a setting to discriminate against a child in relation to: admissions; the provision of education; access to any benefit, facility or service; exclusions; and any other detriment.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have published technical guidance on the Equality Act 2010 in relation to the provision of education, which also covers that provided in ELC settings.

In addition, the Care Inspectorate has launched a support resource with Zero Tolerance on Gender Equal Play in early learning and childcare which may support settings in this aspect of the Equality Act 2010.

  • Sub-criteria 6.2 - The setting will be willing to provide appropriate support, including making any reasonable changes to the care and learning environment, to ensure that children's additional support needs do not provide a barrier to them accessing a full range of experiences and meets their individual needs.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Although the setting must be willing to provide appropriate support, including making any reasonable changes required to the setting, it will not necessarily be expected to meet the costs associated with this.

Education authorities have a duty under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their children. The Act also applies to 'eligible pre-school children' which was extended, as a result of part 6 of the Children and Young People's Act 2014 (the 2014 Act), to include eligible children aged two. This applies regardless of whether the child is accessing the funded hours in a public, private or third sector setting, or through a childminder. In the context of children aged two, learning is defined as meeting developmental milestones.

The duties under section 6 of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 are explained in the Statutory Guidance to the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004. Additional support falls into three overlapping, broad headings: approaches to learning and teaching; support from personnel; and, provision of resources (which could include making changes to the setting). This makes clear that decisions regarding what can be considered adequate and efficient provision can only be judged in the light of each child's circumstances.

It also makes clear that cost should not be the primary consideration in determining what provision is to be made but that decisions have to be taken in light of the local authority's duties to secure best value and service improvement. Expenditure may therefore be unreasonable where the cost incurred would be completely out of scale with the benefits to the child or young person or where suitable alternative provision is available at a significantly lower cost. It may also be considered unreasonable where substantial expenditure on new facilities would be completely out of scale to the benefits to the wider community. For example, the local authority will wish to consider whether the expenditure in providing for a particular child may be of benefit to others in the future.

In the interest of openness and transparency, the local authority must inform the person who made the request for additional support of their decision and explain their reasons for their conclusions. They must also notify the person making the request about mediation services (in the case of parents and young people) and dispute resolution procedures.

It must be noted however that local authority settings, grant-aided schools and independent schools (including any ELC provision within these) also have duties under the Equality Act 2010 Act to make reasonable adjustments for disabled children. The Equality and Human Rights Commission have published technical guidance on the Equality Act 2010 in relation to the provision of education, which also covers that provided in ELC settings. Chapter 6 covers the duty to make reasonable adjustments and page 85 sets out factors to be taken into account when making decisions. However, funded providers in the private and third sectors, including childminders, are not covered by this. Instead, they are covered by the separate EHRC Statutory Code of Practice on Services, Public Functions and Associations. Chapter 7 explains the duties with regard to making reasonable adjustments.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

A module on building confidence in identifying and responding to additional support needs will be included in the national online programme of CPL being developed for the ELC sector.

In addition, Education Scotland have developed a free online inclusion resource aimed at practitioners and local authorities and provides an introduction to inclusion and equality within the Scottish educational context.

Criteria 7 - Business Sustainability

A financially sustainable setting is important for the benefits of the child, particularly in ensuring consistency and continuity of care.

Consistency in setting and staff is key to a child's development. When young children come into a setting, they need a happy, secure environment, rich in opportunities which promote learning and physical activity which at the same time are calm, comforting and responsive.

Providing stability and continuity in provision will allow practitioners to build up strong relationships with children through consistent contact time, in a familiar and safe environment.

Criteria for All Settings

  • Settings wishing to deliver the funded entitlement must be able to demonstrate that they are financially viable providers.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Separate technical guidance currently being developed by Scotland Excel will set out the specific information that settings have to provide to local authorities to demonstrate that they meet this criteria.

In summary:

  • Existing settings delivering the funded entitlement must ensure that they are able to demonstrate – when required – that their business model continues to be financially viable through the provision of appropriate financial information, for example, accounts and business forecasts/projections. A Business Continuity Plan must also be in place.
  • Newly registered settings wishing to deliver the funded entitlement will have had a financial viability check completed by the Care Inspectorate upon registration and this can be used as evidence of business sustainability in the funded provider probationary status period. When the probationary funded status is under review, the criteria for existing settings will apply.
  • Childminding settings wishing to deliver the funded entitlement will be expected to have a contingency plan in place, detailing arrangements for the children in their care should they stop providing the service e.g. if the service was temporarily unavailable due to illness or the service was closed permanently.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

When registering a daycare of children service, the Care Inspectorate carry out an assessment of the financial sustainability of the proposed provider. This process ensures that the setting will be able to operate in their first year and ascertains the business model for the setting moving forward.

In addition, there is general business support available to providers through a range of routes. However, we appreciate that it is not always easy for providers to find this information. To aid providers we will bring together information on current support available in a clear format to enable easier access.

Criteria 8 - Fair Work Practices, including Payment of the Living Wage

The single most important driver of the quality of a child's ELC experience is a high quality workforce. The promotion of fair work practices is a key way of supporting a high quality workforce.

The Scottish Government believes that employers whose staff are treated fairly, who are well-rewarded, well-motivated, well-led, have access to appropriate opportunities for training and skills development, and who have a diverse workforce are likely to deliver a higher quality of service. This can be supported by the adoption of fair work practices across the sector in each of the dimensions of fair work defined in the Fair Work Convention Framework document (Security, Respect, Opportunity, Fulfilment and Effective Voice).

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that Fair Work principles should extend to as many funding streams, business support grants and public contracts as possible. This means all recipients of public funding demonstrating payment of the real Living Wage, investment in skills and training, no exploitative zero hours contracts, action on gender pay and genuine workforce engagement should be considered in all aspects of our work.

Ensuring that staff are fairly remunerated – through, for example, supporting payment of the real Living Wage – is a key aspect of demonstrating commitment to fair work practices.

There is a gap between average earnings in local authority settings and settings in the private and third sectors. Public sector staff working in ELC settings already receive at least the real Living Wage. However, the Financial Review of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland found that, in 2016, around 80% of practitioners and 50% of supervisors in private and third sector settings delivering the funded entitlement were paid an hourly rate below the real Living Wage.

Relatively low levels of pay can present a barrier to some people entering the sector, resulting in recruitment challenges, and can also result in higher levels of staff turnover. This could have potential implications for continuity of care.

The Scottish Government's aspiration is for all workers in the ELC sector to be paid the real Living Wage as a minimum. To support this for the delivery of the funded entitlement, the sustainable hourly rates set and paid by local authorities from 2020 will be set at a level that enables the payment of the real Living Wage to childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement. This commitment will be delivered in line with the supporting guidance on transition options being produced by Scotland Excel.

The Scottish Government can only provide funding for payment of the real Living Wage in relation to the hours spent delivering the funded entitlement.

It is not for the Scottish Government or local authorities to provide funding to cover the hours that staff spend delivering non-funded hours in these settings.

It is therefore a business decision for funded providers as to whether they provide the additional resource to uplift the salaries for all workers in their settings, including those not engaged in delivery of the funded entitlement, to the real Living Wage.

Criteria for All Settings (Excluding Childminders who do not Employ Staff):

  • Settings, including childminders where workers are regularly employed to provide direct care to children, who agree to deliver the funded entitlement will, in accordance with the supporting guidance on Transition Options, pay the real Living Wage to all childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement and commit to adopting and demonstrating Fair Work practices in their setting. In committing to Fair Work practices, settings must take into account:
  • a fair and equal pay policy across their setting, (including a commitment to supporting the real Living Wage);
  • ELC managers/lead practitioners/employers (in the case of childminders who employ staff) have clear managerial responsibilities to nurture talent and help individuals fulfil their potential;
  • promoting equality of opportunity and developing a workforce which reflects the population of Scotland in terms of characteristics such as age, gender, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation and disability;
  • security of employment and hours of work, avoiding exploitative employment practices such as unfair zero hours contracts, or pregnancy and maternity discrimination;
  • consideration of patterns of working (including for example part-time working and/or term-time working) and support for family friendly working and wider work life balance; and
  • support progressive workforce engagement, including trade union membership or alternative arrangements to give staff an effective voice, for example, through regular staff meetings, where possible.

How do settings meet this criteria?

A range of information sheets on Fair Work Practices are available that set out more details on each of the aspects set out in the criteria.

Settings of different size / nature will offer Fair Work practices that are relevant to their organisational structure and focus. Whilst fair pay (including payment of the Living Wage) is a primary driver for a high quality workforce this must not be at the cost of other aspects of the Fair Work Framework which must also be recognised through a proportionate and balanced approach (in particular when applying to the criteria to childminding settings).

ELC Real Living Wage Commitment

Key points to note on implementing the real Living Wage commitment:

  • The real Living Wage should not be confused with the National Minimum Wage (including the "national Living Wage" for those aged 25 and over) which is the legal minimum an employer must pay an employee and is set by the UK Government.
  • The real Living Wage is a voluntary wage rate of pay which is estimated at a level which is sufficient to ensure that the recipient may enjoy an acceptable standard of living. These figures are calculated annually and are generally announced in November each year.
  • Employers who pay the real Living Wage can, if they wish, seek to become Living Wage accredited through Living Wage Scotland. Some ELC providers in Scotland are Living Wage accredited employers, however, it is important to note that whilst the Scottish Government encourages more providers to become Living Wage accredited, it is not a requirement for becoming a funded provider.
  • The commitment covers all ELC staff providing direct care to children who are receiving funded hours, regardless of age and qualification and of the setting in which they are employed.
  • In line with the requirements for Scottish Living Wage accreditation, apprentices do not have to receive the real Living Wage – this is in recognition that, particularly in the earlier stages, apprentices may spend more time training than working. However, it is good practice to ensure pay rises over the course of the apprenticeship.
  • In line with the Fair Work criteria above, employers must demonstrate a fair and equal pay policy.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

The Scottish Government is committed to providing local authorities with the funding to allow them to set rates with providers in the private and third sectors that enables them to pay all childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement the real Living Wage from August 2020.

The guidance on Transition Options being produced by Scotland Excel will include further guidance on options for implementing the real Living Wage commitment, including how to implement this criteria when tendering.

We are also exploring, as part of the development of our Delivery Support Plan for Providers, the potential for some targeted advice and support to providers on implementing Fair Work practices, in particular, payment of the real Living Wage.

Criteria 9 - Payment Processes

As set out in legislation, the funded hours must be free at the point of access regardless of which setting the hours are being delivered in. This duty applies to local authorities and is extended to funded providers when they enter into a contract to deliver the funded hours.

This ensures that parental choice regarding the setting where the funded hours are to be used will not be restricted by upfront payments or top-up fees in relation to the funded hours, or any requirements to purchase additional hours beyond the funded hours in order to access their child's funded entitlement at a setting[5]. Where parents and carers are accessing a mixture of funded and non-funded hours from a setting, it is expected that any charges are presented clearly and transparently to parents and carers.

Payment for the delivery of the funded hours is provided by local authorities to funded providers in the private and third sectors. In order to support the sustainability of funded providers, and to ensure that funded provider's cash flows are healthy, it is vital that they are paid promptly and efficiently for delivering the funded entitlement.

Criteria for All Settings

  • Settings delivering the funded entitlement must ensure that access to the funded hours are free at the point of access to the child and that parents and carers are not subject to any fees in relation to the funded hours. The setting must ensure that:
  • parents and carers are not asked to make any upfront payment, including a deposit or any other payment, in respect of the funded hours, therefore ensuring that the child's funded entitlement is free at the point of access;
  • no top-up fees are charged to parents and carers relating to the funded hours;
  • parents and carers are not required to purchase additional hours beyond the funded hours in order to access their child's funded entitlement at the setting;
  • additional charges to parents and carers relating to the funded hours should be optional, and limited to, for example, snacks, costs of outings or extracurricular activities such as music classes; and
  • where parents and carers choose to purchase further hours in addition to the funded hours, the associated fees and hours must be transparent and clearly set out in any parental communication and invoices.

How do settings meet this criteria?

It is important to note that the criteria listed above relates only to the delivery of the funded hours.

Any fees or charges not associated with the funded hours will continue to be at the discretion of individual settings. It is expected that these fees and charges will be set with reference to local market conditions, and reflect individual business models and underlying cost structures.

It is not for local authorities or the Scottish Government to seek to comment on or intervene in fees charged out-with the funded entitlement.

Some settings may offer optional extras which are in addition to the funded hours. This could be to, for example, cover the costs of outings or extracurricular activities such as music classes.

It is expected that such charges, where required, are charged for at a rate that reflects the cost of delivery.

It is important that local authorities and funded providers, as part of the partnership working approach that is central to Funding Follows the Child, work closely together to manage the take-up of places across settings within the local authority area.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

We will work together with providers and Scotland Excel, drawing on existing good practice, to develop templates that funded providers may wish to utilise to support clear and transparent information for parents on fees and charges.

Criteria 10 - Food

ELC experiences provide children with an important opportunity for maximising healthy eating and establishing healthy eating habits in the earliest years. The early years is identified as a crucial time to reduce health inequalities. Providing healthy and nutritionally balanced meals and snacks in ELC settings is important, particularly in meeting the needs of vulnerable families.

Criteria for All Settings

  • Settings must have a clear and comprehensive policy for the provision of healthy meals and snacks for children. This should be consistent with Setting the Table and the Eatwell Guide and should ensure that individual cultural and dietary needs are met. There should be consultation with parents and carers about how other dietary preferences might be accommodated.

How do settings meet this criteria?

Light and main meals can be provided either as a breakfast, lunch or an early evening meal. They can be prepared by the funded provider, delivered by the local authority or purchased by an external provider (directly by the funded provider).

The meal need not be a hot meal but all meals and snacks must meet the most up-to-date nutritional guidance provided for ELC (currently included in Setting the Table). The menu and recipe suggestions that accompany Setting the Table are based on an assumption that children obtain 30% of nutritional requirements from a main meal; 20% from a light meal; and 10% of nutritional requirements from a snack.

Childminders delivering the funded entitlement who will also be providing a meal are required to register as a food business operator[6]. Advice and guidance is available from the Food Standards Agency, in particular through Safer food, better business for childminders.

What support will be available to help settings meet this criteria?

In December 2018, the Care Inspectorate published good practice guidance on food in ELC titled Food Matters: Nurturing happy, healthy children. It is a resource that highlights examples of good practice from across the ELC sector. They have worked alongside the sector to enable all ELC settings, practitioners and families to tell their own stories of how they are supporting children to eat well and enjoy good food every day.

Food Matters shares Unicef's core message and vision: If a child receives the right nutrition and care at the start of their lives, they'll grow up healthy and strong – and there's no limit to what they can become. This aligns with Health and Social Care Standard 1.6:

"I get the most out of life because the people and organisation who support and care for me have an enabling attitude and believe in my potential."

We will work with delivery partners to develop a national resource of communication materials that settings can distribute to parents and carers. This will include material on healthy eating and the free meal commitment.

From 2020, we are also proposing that nursery milk is delivered as part of the funded entitlement. Alongside this we are considering including an offer of a daily healthy snack such as a piece of prepared fruit or vegetable.

We will confirm the final details of the nursery milk and healthy snack offer in early 2019 following the confirmation of the policy position in light of the Welfare Foods consultation.

We will also create online platforms for funded providers and local authorities to identify and share best practice on innovative collaborative solutions to delivering the commitment.


Contact

Email: Euan Carmichael