Funding follows the child and the national standard for early learning and childcare providers: principles and practice

This document sets out the approach, and the national standard which all providers wishing to deliver the funded entitlement will have to meet.

Annex A: Glossary




The commitment to ensure that ELC capacity is sufficient and is as conveniently geographically located as possible – particularly in areas of higher deprivation and in rural communities – to support families and enable parents and carers to work, train and study, while also appropriately meeting the needs of children who require additional support and parents who request ELC through the medium of Gaelic.

Active learning

Learning which engages and challenges children's thinking using real-life and imaginary situations. It takes full advantage of the opportunities for learning presented by spontaneous play, planned, purposeful play, investigating and exploring, events and life experiences and focused learning and teaching supported, when necessary, through sensitive intervention to support or extend learning.


The increased access to affordable ELC which will help to reduce barriers to participating in the labour market which parents and carers face.

Blended Model

The model where children are attending two or more settings, managed by different providers, who are working together to provide them with their entitlement to ELC.

Continuous Professional Learning

Ongoing learning and development to improve and extend professional practice throughout an individual's career. Maintaining and developing effective knowledge, skills and values helps everyone working in ELC to deliver good practice when working with children, parents and carers as well as other professionals.


COSLA, the Confederation Of Scottish Local Authorities, is the voice of Local Government in Scotland. They provide political leadership on national issues, and work with local authorities to improve local services and strengthen local democracy. They are co-creators of the Funding Follows the Child approach and the National Standard with the Scottish Government.

Early learning and childcare / ELC

The relevant legislation defines early learning and childcare as: "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 setting."

It emphasises the holistic and seamless provision of nurture, care and the development of social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills, abilities and wellbeing. Learning cannot take place without a nurturing and caring environment.

Eligible children

An eligible child is defined in legislation (the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the Provision of Early Learning and Childcare (Specified Children) (Scotland) Order 2014, as amended).

This is all 3 and 4 year olds and some children aged 2, from the relevant start date. The date the child can access their funded entitlement depends on their birth date.

Fair Work practices

Practices that create an environment which offers effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect; that balances the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers and that can generate benefits for individuals, organisations and society.

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.

Financially sustainable provision

Provision which ensures that providers across all sectors are willing and able to deliver the funded entitlement, including receiving a sustainable funding rate.


Support for parents and carers in work, training or study, and a commitment to offer patterns of provision better aligned with working patterns whilst delivering this in a way that ensures a high quality experience for the child.

Free at the point of access

The commitment to parents and carers that they will not have to pay for any part of their child's funded entitlement at any time and are not asked to make any upfront payment, including a deposit or any other payment, in respect of the funded hours. It also ensures that funded providers cannot charge parents and carers top-up fees to the funded entitlement or ask them to purchase additional hours to access the funded hours. This does not include additional charges such as the cost of outings or extra-curricular activities which can be charged to parents and carers if these are clearly detailed in the payment agreement.

Funded entitlement

The statutory entitlement stated in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 for all children aged 3 and 4 years old and eligible 2 year olds to 1140 hours of early learning and childcare from August 2020[2].

Funded hours

The hours of ELC provision for children which are funded through the local authority up to the statutory entitlement of 1140 hours of ELC for eligible children.

Funded Provider

An ELC setting who meets the National Standard and offers the ELC funded entitlement to children.

Funded provider on a probationary basis

A newly registered setting which has become a funded provider before their first Care Inspectorate inspection, providing they meet the other criteria in the National Standard.

Funding Follows the Child

The approach for parents and carers to make informed choices about where they want their child to take their funded entitlement to ELC. It is defined by a 'provider neutral' approach which allows parents and carers to choose providers – regardless of whether they are in the public, private or third sectors, including childminders – if the setting meets the National Standard, has a place available and is willing to enter into a contract with the local authority.

Getting It Right for Every Child

The national approach in Scotland to improving outcomes and supporting the wellbeing of our children and young people by offering the right help at the right time from the right people. It supports them and their parents or carers to work in partnership with the services that can help them. Wellbeing sits at the heart of the GIRFEC approach and reflects the need to tailor the support and help that children, young people and their families are offered to support their wellbeing. A child or young person's wellbeing is influenced by everything around them and the different experiences and needs they have at different times in their lives.

Key enablers of flexibility and choice

The role of the local authority to ensure every child in their area is able to access their funded entitlement in a high quality setting which meets their needs, through regular consultation on local parental demand and by ensuring a 'provider neutral' neutral approach to local ELC delivery plans.

Multi-year funding package

The annual revenue investment in ELC agreed which will reach around £990 million by 2021-22. This is an increase of £567 million on 2016-17 levels. £476 million in capital funding over four years has also been provided to support the next phase of infrastructure investment in ELC. The total additional revenue and capital spend over five years from 2017-18 and to 2021-22 will reach almost £2 billion.

National Standard

The Standard that all funded providers in Scotland will need to meet to offer the funded entitlement to children from August 2020. This is regardless of whether the funded hours are provided by a setting in the public, private or third sectors, including provision offered by childminders. It is aligned to the guiding principles for the expansion to 1140 hours: quality; flexibility; accessibility and affordability. 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.

Non-funded hours

The hours of ELC provision which are not paid for through the local authority. These hours are likely to be in addition to the funded hours children need, hours for children who are not eligible for the funded entitlement, or are paid ELC hours in settings who are not funded providers.

Poverty-related attainment gap

The gap in attainment and children's outcomes between children in the most and least deprived areas of Scotland.

Primary guarantors of quality

The role of the local authority to ensure that ELC funded providers are meeting the National Standard through meaningful and genuine partnership working, including providing support for improvement and monitoring compliance against the quality criteria.


Any organisation offering ELC provision registered with the Care Inspectorate under daycare of children or childminding registrations.

Provider neutral

The approach which enables parents and carers to choose from a variety of ELC settings that best suits the needs of their child, in line with Funding Follows the Child. It allows parents and carers to choose from a number of different providers – regardless of whether they are in the public, private or third sectors, including childminders – if the setting meets the National Standard, has a place available and is willing to enter into a contract with the local authority.


A high quality experience for all children, which complements other early years and educational activity to close the poverty-related attainment gap and recognises the value of those we entrust to support our children to fulfil their potential.

Real Living Wage

The rate of pay for staff that is calculated based on the cost of living. Employers who pay the Living Wage to their staff can apply for Living Wage Accreditation. The real Living Wage rate at December 2018 was £9.00 an hour. The rate is updated in the first week of November each year. 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.

Regional Improvement Collaboratives

Regional Improvement Collaboratives bring together local authority and Education Scotland resources and expertise, to enhance the educational improvement support that is provided to schools and funded ELC providers. The 6 Collaboratives across Scotland include sector and curriculum area support, including additional support for learning. They provide targeted advice and support in order to drive improvement, making use of available evidence and data. Each Collaborative sets out its work plan and regional support offer through a Regional Improvement Plan.

Scotland Excel

The Centre of Procurement Expertise for the local government sector. Their services are designed to help local authorities meet the twin challenges of reducing budgets at a time of growing demand. Collaborative procurement increases efficiency and ensures money is saved to protect front line services. By working together through Scotland Excel, local authorities work to realise a host of social, economic and environmental benefits from their spend.

Scrutiny activities

The Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland undertake a number of scrutiny activities to provide public assurance, regulate and support improvement in care and learning across ELC. This includes inspections, registrations of care services and investigating complaints made about ELC settings. Information from these activities can be used by local authorities to ascertain compliance against the National Standard criteria.

Service improvement period

The time given to a funded provider to improve the quality of ELC when they are not meeting one or more of the National Standard criteria. The length of the 'service improvement period' is 12 months or, if the criteria not met are related to Care Inspectorate quality evaluations, the 'service improvement period' will end upon publication of the next inspection report.

Service Models Working Group

A group of professionals from the ELC sector who work alongside Scottish Government officials tasked with supporting the development of the Funding Follows the Child approach and the National Standard.


Any service offering ELC provision registered with the Care Inspectorate under daycare of children or childminding registrations.

Staffing structure

The structure of staff used in services to ensure that children's health, safety and welfare needs are met. This can include how staff are deployed to ensure adequate supervision or how management structures are used to support a culture of continuous improvement.

Sustainable rate

The hourly rate that is paid to funded providers in the private and third sectors, and childminders, to deliver the funded entitlement ensuring they can remain financially viable while offering funded hours to eligible children. The rate will support delivery of a high quality ELC experience for all children; reflect the cost of delivery, including the delivery of national policy objectives; allow for investment in the setting – staff, resources and physical environment; and enable payment of the real Living Wage for those childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement.

Top-up fees

Costs which are in addition to the funded entitlement. These must be clearly stated in any payment agreement. Parents and carers are not expected to pay any top up fees in order to access their child's funded entitlement. This may apply to non-funded hours or additional costs such as outings or extra-curricular activities.


Email: Euan Carmichael

Back to top