Out of school care in Scotland - draft framework: consultation

This draft framework for consultation sets out a vision for out of school care, considers the current picture, and asks questions about the benefits and challenges of accessing out of school care.

2. Introduction

Why Do We Need a Framework for Out of School Care?

The Scottish Government is focussed on creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increased wellbeing, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Access to high quality, affordable and flexible childcare has a huge role to play in enabling this. Our expansion of funded early learning and childcare will provide increased opportunities for children to access play and learning at an early age but we know that widening access to a range of out of school activities for children could help broaden their experiences and supplement their learning. Making childcare options for school aged children more affordable, flexible and accessible can help provide families with the stability they need to be able to secure employment and increase their earnings in order to achieve a good standard of living. Accessing affordable out of school care could enable families to lift themselves out of poverty and for all children and young people, to be able to benefit from a range of activities and experiences which will deliver positive outcomes.

That is why this framework for future delivery is so important.

A future framework for out of school care will provide the foundation and structure for the creation of new policies around before, after school and holiday childcare and activity provision. The framework will recognise and build on the valuable work already being undertaken by a wide range of organisations and individuals delivering high quality childcare and activities for families across Scotland.

What is the purpose of the consultation?

This draft framework sets out our thinking as a result of our engagement work to date.

Our draft framework will:

  • set out a vision for out of school care in Scotland and consider the changes required to deliver that vision.
  • consider the current picture of out of school care in Scotland.
  • ask questions about what more we can do to realise that vision.

Your responses to the consultation will, together with our continuing engagement, inform the development of a strategic framework for out of school care which will be published before the end of this parliamentary term.

Policy Background

National Performance Framework

In 2018, the National Performance Framework was relaunched following discussions and engagement with organisations and communities from across Scotland. The Framework sets out a vision for national wellbeing covering a range of economic, social and environmental factors. It brings a new degree of transparency around the work of government, as well as communicating very clearly the outcomes that the people of Scotland want us to achieve. A collaborative approach to service delivery sits at the centre of Scottish Government, and is crucial for articulating and delivering on our vision for Scotland. In developing a new framework for Out of School Care, we have closely followed this collaborative approach. This draft framework is the result of extensive engagement with parents, children, the out of school care sector and a range of stakeholders that share our ambition for Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up and learn.

Our National performance framework is for all of Scotland. It sets out our purpose and national outcomes.

Figure 1: National Performance Framework

Figure 1: National Performance Framework

Poverty and Inequality

We know that poverty and inequality act to limit the opportunities for some children in Scotland. Disadvantages experienced from birth onwards can impact adversely on the life chances of our children, and result in poor health, employment, educational and social outcomes. We are determined to close this gap and to open the doors of opportunity. We want to support families to lift themselves out of poverty and to enable children and young people to have access to a wide range of activities and experiences. This is why we are focussed on supporting children and families.

Tackling Child Poverty

The most recent child poverty statistics available estimate that almost 1 in 4 children (24%) were living in poverty[1] in Scotland in the period 2015-18. Independent projections suggest that this figure will increase in the coming years. The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act sets in statute our ambition to eradicate child poverty in Scotland and sets ambitious targets, to reduce child poverty levels to fewer than 1 in 10 children, to be met by 2030.

We know that experience of poverty is not uniform across Scotland. Local level estimates suggest that child poverty levels are considerably higher in specific areas - influenced by local factors such as the strength of the labour market. This is why the Act also places a duty on local authorities and health boards to jointly produce annual Local Child Poverty Action Reports, outlining the actions they are taking to reduce poverty. The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan also identifies six family types that are at greater risk of experiencing poverty, these have been identified as the priority groups outlined below:

In developing the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan we examined the evidence base carefully to identify the main drivers of poverty and concluded that there are three direct drivers of child poverty reduction. Costs of living and income from employment are two of the primary drivers and are both directly influenced by childcare. The third, income from social security and benefits in kind, provides much needed support for parents and can help top-up earnings and incentivise work.

Income from employment is itself determined by a person's hourly rate and the number of hours they work. In order for parents to increase their hours, and therefore their take home pay, flexible and affordable childcare must be in place. Childcare and the cost of accessing experiences and activities for children are often inescapable for families and can have a significant impact on their disposable income. Any reduction in the cost of these essentials will leave a household with more disposable income allowing them to purchase the essentials they need for a good quality of life.

  • Lone Parents
  • Person with a disability
  • 3+ Children
  • Minority Ethnic
  • Youngest Child <1
  • Parents Aged <25

In November 2018, the Poverty and Inequality Commission provided advice to the Scottish Government on addressing poverty during school holidays. The Commission underline that families face a range of additional costs and pressures during the school holidays. These include the cost and availability of holiday childcare; financial pressures such as additional costs for food, fuel and activities/transport; providing play opportunities and activities on a low income, parenting challenges and social isolation for both parents and children with existing supports and activities stopping.

The 2018 report made several recommendations including that the Scottish Government, COSLA and local authorities should work together to take a strategic approach to developing and funding a coordinated package of school holiday support that addresses the full range of pressures faced by families with low incomes and that building from existing services, holiday club provision, with nutritious and culturally appropriate food as a core element, should be available for all children from low income families.

Inclusive Growth and Employability

We aim to achieve economic growth in Scotland that is inclusive. This means growth that combines increased prosperity with greater equality, creates opportunities for all, and distributes the benefits of increased prosperity fairly.

We aim to create the right environment for more inclusive employment opportunities to flourish. Through supporting investment, innovation, internationalisation and fair work, we are encouraging competitiveness and more responsible business behaviour.

While unemployment is currently low by historical standards there are still many who struggle to find work, and stay in work. Many people will face multiple barriers, including childcare and so more intensive approaches, tailored to individual needs can help those who most need it.

At the same time levels of in-work poverty experienced by families have risen to record highs, influenced by low pay and insecure contracts of employment offering insufficient hours and job security to afford a good standard of living.

Our aim is to support people into work by ensuring the employability offer in Scotland is person-centred, flexible and responsive to the needs of individuals and employers. Our new investment in Parental Employment Support will also support parents in low paid work to progress and increase their earnings. This is critical to help people access fair work, and help them achieve their full potential in an inclusive and fair economy.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out the fundamental rights of all children and young people. The UK ratified the UNCRC in 1991. Scottish Government will legislate to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law. We believe that delivering the rights of children and young people as enshrined in the UNCRC is fundamental to making children's rights real. It forms the basis of our national approach for supporting children, called Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC). There are many articles contained within the UNCRC which are hugely relevant to out of school care including Article 31 which describes a child's right to culture, leisure, rest and play - Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities. Our Play Strategy commits us to being a nation which values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people; in their homes, nurseries, schools and communities.

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)

Our GIRFEC approach underpins all our work with children and young people and means working across organisational boundaries and putting children and their families at the heart of decision making. Our approach is about everyone working together to support every child and young person's wellbeing - by spotting and dealing with issues as early as possible, and working with parents and services before they escalate into potential crisis.

Early Learning and Childcare

From August 2020, the provision of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) will increase from 600 hours to 1140 hours. The expansion is an opportunity to ensure that we are prioritising a high quality experience for all children, recognising the significant contribution that universally accessible ELC can make to a child's development and to closing the poverty related attainment gap.

The expansion of funded early learning and childcare entitlement will provide parents with 30 hours (if taken term-time) of free at the point of access early learning and childcare per week for all 3 and 4 year olds (and 2 year olds who meet certain eligibility criteria). This policy is focussed on ensuring a universal best start for all children and reducing the poverty related attainment gap, it will also enable parents to consider their own situation and may be a factor in enabling them to access or increase education or employment.

Childcare responsibilities and improving outcomes for children continue beyond early learning and childcare and we know that working hours for many don't align with the school day. This means that for most parents childcare requirements will continue to be necessary wrapping around the school day and particularly during extended school holiday periods. Outcomes for children are linked not only to the learning that takes place during school hours but also to the range of life enhancing experiences and opportunities that are available to children outside of school hours and during holiday times. We know that for many children this range of positive experiences remains out of reach.

Curriculum for Excellence

Scotland's curriculum is defined as all the experiences that are planned for learners wherever they are being educated. It can take account of all the experiences that children and young people can have through learning out with school and in activity that would previously have been thought of as extra-curricular. The purpose of the curriculum is to enable every child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor. The curriculum aims to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need if they are to flourish in life.

Good quality out of school care helps children and young people to develop these capacities thereby complementing what happens in school and at home. It provides children with a range of experiences which enrich and enhance their lives, and support their progress and achievement.

That is why the Scottish Government has committed to developing policy for out of school care in Scotland:

  • The 2017-18 Programme for Government committed us to publishing a framework for after school and holiday childcare within this parliamentary term. The 2018-19 Programme for Government provided more detail, noting that we will publish a consultation asking for views on that draft framework in the next year.
  • Within the Child Poverty Delivery Plan, Every Child, Every Chance, one of the 15 highlighted actions is new support for childcare after school and in the holidays to help low income parents reduce childcare costs, work more flexibly and increase their incomes. We committed to assess the availability of existing after school and holiday childcare, setting out what we will do to better meet the needs of families.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge, backed by the £750m Attainment Scotland fund is a targeted initiative to tackle the poverty related attainment gap. As part of this, there are a number of key funding streams: Pupil Equity Funding, Challenge Authorities Programme, Schools Programme and Care Experienced Children and Young People funding.

These funds have supported out of school care and activity programmes with a focus on:

  • Tackling food insecurity
  • Promoting outdoor play and learning
  • Creating opportunities to participate in sport and physical activities
  • Family learning programmes
  • Study clubs/supported study sessions.

Policy links

Across Scottish Government there are a wide range of policies supporting children and families. Out of school care impacts many of these policy areas. Some of the current connections are shown here:

Figure 2: Policy links across Scottish Government

Figure 2: Policy links across Scottish Government



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