School age childcare delivery framework

Sets out our commitment, action areas and the approach we will take over the next two to three years to deliver a system of affordable and accessible school age childcare which will be funded for those families who need it most.

1. Introduction to our delivery framework

School age childcare services play a vital role within our communities, offering a variety of options which families can rely on to support their childcare needs before and after school, and during the holidays.

The current school age childcare sector is wide-ranging, with families often using a mix of regulated providers, registered childminders, breakfast clubs, children’s activities (including those centred around sports or cultural activities) and youth work provision to support their childcare needs. In addition, many families rely on friends and family, or consider at-home services such as nannies, to accommodate their family’s circumstances.

The 2023-24 Programme for Government announced an ambitious, evidence-based set of proposals to expand high quality, funded childcare, particularly for low-income families. This includes a continued commitment to building a system of school age childcare, with a focus on our six early adopter communities. These proposals recognise that affordable and accessible childcare supports employment and the economy, and that secure and sustainable employment helps lift families out of poverty.

We continue to consider the school age childcare sector in its broadest sense, and we will work collaboratively with families, communities, childcare providers, and the wider public sector to build a system that meets their needs. We will also take a place-based approach, recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to providing school age childcare within communities.

Best Start, our Early Learning and School Age Childcare Strategic Plan sets out our strategic priorities across all our childcare offers – including a commitment to progress the expansion of our childcare offer by building a system of school age childcare for primary school children – which will contribute to our three high level outcomes:

  • Children’s development improves and the poverty-related outcomes gap narrows,
  • Family wellbeing improves, and
  • Parents’ and carers’ opportunities to take up or sustain work, training, and study increase.

It makes clear that in developing a new system of school age childcare we will build on and learn the lessons from the significant programme of work that underpinned the expansion to 1140 hours of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC).

An expanded childcare offering for school age children is crucial to our national mission to tackle child poverty, to promote family wellbeing, drive greater gender equality and to #Keep The Promise to our care experienced children.

Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022-26 also sets out how we can all work together to deliver on that mission.

Within that plan we reiterate our commitment to supporting families with funded school age childcare. Our Access to Childcare Fund and Early Adopter Communities work is helping us deepen our understanding of the difference that funded school age childcare can make for families on low incomes.

This Delivery Framework for School Age Childcare sets out our commitment to build a system of school age childcare which will be funded for those families who need it most. It defines our action areas for the next three years, describes our transformational approach – centred around people and place – and considers how we will measure and evidence the impact of early delivery.

The Framework forms part of a suite of published documents relevant to our school age childcare policy development building on our Draft Framework for Out of School Care and consultation (2019) and our School Age Childcare Progress Report (2021).

These documents set out useful information about the scale and breadth of the school age childcare sector in Scotland which isn’t repeated in this Framework.

Figure 1: Who provides School Age Childcare?
This diagram shows the variety of services who provide childcare to families across Scotland

Our ‘Plan on a page’ outlines how we will build and deliver a system of school age childcare:

Our vision

A rights based, dynamic school age childcare offer for children and young people, which supports choice and growth, enabling families and communities to reach their full potential.

Realising our vision - What our programme will deliver

"Scotland will have a system of accessible and affordable school age childcare providing care before and after school and during the holidays for primary school children from low income households. Children will be able to access healthy and nutritious food as part of this offer."

Why are we providing it?

Tackling Child Poverty

Parents from targeted families are able to access childcare that supports them to take up, sustain and/or increase their hours of work. Reducing barriers to employment by improving access to childcare for targeted families.

Improving outcomes for children

Reducing inequalities which exist in access to a wide range of activities for children from targeted families. Improving family wellbeing by supporting and increasing access to integrated childcare, food and activities.

Who will it help?

Our work is focused on supporting low income families, particularly those within the six priority family groups most likely to be living in poverty.

  • Minority Ethnic families
  • Large families (3+ Children)
  • Families with a baby (aged <1)
  • Mothers aged <25
  • Families with a disabled adult or child
  • Lone Parents

What will we do?

Action areas

Building the system

Creating the national infrastructure to underpin growth and expansion

  • Legislative requirements
  • Designing a delivery mechanism
  • Regulation and registration
  • Qualifications
  • Eligibility
  • Supporting improvements to the existing system

Testing the change

Exploring the delivery of services and their impacts in different communities

Early adopter communities testing:

  • Specialist Services
  • Food Provision
  • Assessing year round capability and demand
  • Targeting funding
  • Rural provision

How will we do it?

Place based, People Centred

We will design our school age childcare system around people's needs and what's important to communities.



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