Early Learning and Childcare
Currently all children aged 3 and 4, and eligible 2 year olds are entitled to 600 hours per year of funded early learning and childcare. The enhanced offer with the expansion of funded ELC from 600 to 1140 hours for all children from August 2020 and the earlier ELC offer for eligible two-year-olds has the potential to transform outcomes for children with complex needs in the early years.
In order to ensure that the funded ELC entitlement is delivered in high quality settings, a Funding Follows the Child approach will be introduced in August 2020 alongside the statutory roll-out of the expanded entitlement. This is underpinned by the National Standard for ELC which sets out the quality criteria which any settings wishing to deliver funded ELC must meet.
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 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.
In an ELC setting there are several transitions we expect a child to manage, from: home to the setting; person to person; setting to setting; outdoors to indoors and ultimately from ELC to primary school. It is essential that all of these are handled sensitively, inclusively and positively.
To ensure that ELC practitioners are well placed to help children manage these transitions refreshed national practice guidance (Building the Ambition) will be published. The refresh will strengthened guidance on how to support the child’s transition from home to ELC.
To further help assess if we are meeting the needs of children with additional support needs the Scottish Government are expanding the information routinely collected. The questions in the current ELC annual census on additional support needs have been amended to cover the range of reasons for support; include a question on disability; and collect information on all support plans in place for children with additional support needs. These changes were introduced to the September 2017 census and analysis from this collection was published for the first time in December 2017.
Wider changes being made to the census will go further to help assess the needs of children accessing their ELC entitlement. The Scottish Government will move to an individual child level data collection in 2021, providing a much richer source of data for the sector, including collection characteristics data such as additional support needs. This information will be used to help identify specific groups for targeted support, improve outcomes for children, and reduce inequalities.
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