Chapter 3 Early Learning and Childcare
This chapter looked at the importance of tackling the drivers of the gender pay gap that begin at an early age so that every child can reach their potential regardless of gender. It looked at tackling practices that reinforce gender stereotyping in early years and childcare settings and taking action to address traditional occupational segregation by encouraging more men into the sector. The chapter also looked at the ELC workforce, recognising the value of the workforce that is largely made up by women. To support the workforce, we committed to ensuring the successful implementation of the real Living Wage for workers in provider settings delivering the funded entitlement. Affordable childcare has an impact on a woman's ability to participate fully in the labour market. We committed to evaluating our programme to expand ELC provision to 1140 hours per year to determine the impact of the investment and what actions can be taken to further strengthen women's equal access to the labour market.
Challenging gender stereotyping which leads to occupational segregation
Evidence shows that gender stereotyping from an early age has an impact on the decisions that girls and boys make about their future subject and career choices. To support work on tacking gender stereotyping, we committed to asking Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate to take account of gender equality in their scrutiny activities.
Education Scotland addresses gender equality and tackling stereotypes during school and ELC inspections through a focus on ensuring equality, wellbeing and inclusion.
The Care Inspectorate takes account of gender equality and stereotyping in their scrutiny activity through their Health and Social Care Standards which state:
- Standard 1.1: 'I am accepted and valued whatever my needs, ability, gender, age, faith, mental health status, race, background or sexual orientation.'
- Standard 1.2: 'My human rights are protected and promoted, and I experience no discrimination.'
Currently these standards are assessed under Quality of Care and Support and Quality of Staffing Themes. The Care Inspectorate will be launching a new Quality Framework for Early Learning and Childcare in the Spring of 2021. The framework reflects the Health and Social Care Standards including, I am accepted and valued whatever my needs, ability, gender, age, faith, mental health, race, background or sexual orientation.
In February 2020, we published a revised national practice guidance for early years in Scotland – Realising the Ambition. This includes a section on the impact of conscious and unconscious gender bias. We also included a strong focus on addressing gender bias in a new online module on supporting early learning in STEM which was launched in January 2020.
We know that having a visibly diverse workforce helps tackle stereotyping. As women continue to be the overwhelmingly visible workforce in the ELC sector increasing the number of men in ELC settings will help children dispel messages that childcare is a job for women only. It can also provide male role models for some children who may lack this in their early lives. We committed to working in partnership with education and training providers and the third sector to test new ways to encourage men into the early learning sector, supporting our efforts to diversify the workforce. We worked with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to create a new Challenge Fund to test innovative ways of recruiting and retaining males in ELC-related training programmes. The University of Highlands and Islands and West Lothian College were the recipients and deployed the funding to test different approaches to encouraging more males in to the sector throughout 2019. To ensure early lessons from this work were shared widely, a 'Men Into Early Years' conference was held in late September 2019. The two recipients of funding presented their work along with several guest speakers and colleagues from the third sector.
We were pleased to note an increase in males undertaking modern apprenticeships in 2018-19 (7% of starts were males vs 2% of males who are already working in the funded ELC sector) and going forward, the Scottish Government will work with partners across the skills landscape, and employers, to share good practice across the ELC sector, with the aim of increasing numbers of males entering ELC through all training routes.
Improve and expand on Early Learning and Childcare Provision
Our analysis on the Impact of COVID-19 on Equality in Scotland reported that women remain more likely to have caring responsibilities which make it hard to maintain or take up employment. Evidence also suggests that due to school and nursery closures, housework and childcare has fallen more to women than men. This disproportionately high increase of unpaid care continues to create barriers for women entering and maintaining in employment. This is why our work to improve and expand childcare provision continues to remain a key factor is supporting women in the labour market and to reduce the gender pay gap.
We remain fully committed to the expansion of funded ELC being underpinned by Fair Work principles and practices, in particular ensuring that staff are fairly remunerated. We also remain committed to ensuring the successful implementation of the real Living Wage commitment for funded provider settings that forms part of the Funding Follows the Child approach. This is an integral part of the landmark funding reached agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA Leaders in April 2018 which provides the funding to allow local authorities to set sustainable rates for providers in the private and third sectors that enable them to pay all childcare workers delivering the funded ELC entitlement the real Living Wage from August 2020. In the light of the impact of the COVID pandemic, Interim Guidance on the Implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for ELC providers was published on 30 July 2020. This reconfirmed that all setting are expected to commit to adopting and demonstrating Fair Work practices. And that settings should receive sustainable rates that are set at a level which reflects the payment of the real Living Wage to all childcare workers delivering the funded entitlement.
The expansion to 1140 hours of funded entitlement, from August 2021, will be supported by a transition to full implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard taking account of any need for continued flexibility as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We said in the next review of the national occupational standards and resulting qualifications for the early learning and childcare and out of school care sector, we would consider how to build addressing gender stereotyping and occupational segregation into training. Since the publication of Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, the National Occupational Standards have not yet been reviewed. However, work has been undertaken at local authority level to train nurseries and settings to be gender friendly settings, including implementation of the 'Gender Equal Play' guide, published jointly by the Care Inspectorate and Zero Tolerance. When the national occupational standards are reviewed, we will build on the work outlined above to address gender stereotyping and occupational segregation into training.
School age childcare services play a vital role in enabling parents and carers to access work, addressing economic and social exclusion, and providing improved outcomes for children. Evidence points to the importance of school age childcare for the whole family - children can benefit from improved outcomes through opportunities for play and learning, and access to childcare can support parents to work, train or study. This is why we committed to developing and consulting on a plan for after-school and holiday childcare to further improve and expand early learning and childcare.
We published and consulted on our Out of School Care in Scotland: A Draft Framework for school age childcare. In March 2021 we will publish a Progress Report that sets out the steps we will take over the coming year to further develop our school age childcare policy.
For parents to be able to be able to take advantage of work, training or study opportunities, childcare needs to be affordable, accessible and flexible to meet their needs. This can be especially important for lone parents who are predominantly women and allow them to access training or work rather than their choices being limited to reduced hours or giving up work to look after their children. These opportunities for parents can therefore lead to increased earnings, which in turn helps to reduce levels of child poverty.
We have created the Access to Childcare Fund, worth £3m across 2020-2022 to test new models of school age childcare that will be accessible and affordable for low income families. The fund aims to support projects to deliver a range of activities, childcare, food and family support for children, including those from the six priority family types identified in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, including lone parents, a high proportion of whom are women. Projects will explore new models of school age childcare, including holiday provision, flexible delivery, specialist services for children with additional support needs, and increasing access to families most likely to be living in poverty.
Low Income Families Together (LIFT) – Muirhouse Community Centre
Through our Support and Advocacy services we identified a lack of childcare was having a huge impact on families, particularly single parents who needed access to after school care. We trialled a flexible childcare pilot with a cost to parents of just 50p. Children could come to the after-school care straight from school until 5.30pm. We had six weeks of excellent service delivery. Of the original 12 mums, eight are now working from home, two have sadly lost their jobs and two have other childcare arrangements in place. Children have since reported our service helped to increase mental well-being due to having a safe environment to learn new skills and improve their communication, meaning the children can take the lead in decision making and programme delivery of the service.
We know how much our families need a service like ours, especially in an area of deprivation like Muirhouse. We currently have a waiting list and as soon as guideline's allow, we will have our services up and running again as they have proven incredibly beneficial to the families we support.
We said we would undertake, by 2024, an evaluation to determine the impact the significant investment to increase the number of funded hours to 1,140 per year has had on improving the outcomes for children and on labour market outcomes for parents, particularly for women; and consider what further action may be required to further strengthen women's equal access to the labour market.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we took the difficult decision to suspend the statutory duty on local authorities to provide 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare from August 2020. A revised implementation date of August 2021 has now been set. The bespoke Scottish Study of Early Learning and Childcare (SSELC) will evaluate the impact of the ELC expansion on child, parent and family outcomes. All the baseline data for the SSELC have been collected and published. We are working with stakeholders to assess the pandemic's impact on young children, their parents and the ELC sector and consider any changes needed to our evaluation strategy in light of this. The follow-up phases of the SSELC were due to begin in November 2022; however, the evaluation timetable is currently being reviewed in light of the revised implementation date of August 2021.
Actions going forward 2021-22
In addition to taking forward the work we have started above. We will also take forward the actions below.
- We will consider how to build addressing gender stereotyping and occupational segregation into training in the next review of the national occupational standards and resulting qualifications for the early learning and childcare and out of school care sector.
- Longer-term We will undertake an evaluation to determine the impact the significant investment to increase the number of funded hours to 1,140 per year has had on improving the outcomes for children and on labour market outcomes for parents, particularly on women; and consider what further action may be required to further strengthen women's equal access to the labour market.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback