Publication - Guidance

Early learning, childcare and out of school care services: design guidance

Published: 30 Jun 2017
Children and Families Directorate
Part of:
Children and families, Education
Guidance on good design for supporting the delivery of high quality early learning, childcare and out of school care services.
30 Jun 2017
Early learning, childcare and out of school care services: design guidance

In October 2016, the Scottish Government launched the consultation 'A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland'. The consultation set out a vision for increasing the entitlement to free early learning and childcare (ELC) to 1140 hours per year by 2020 for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds. This work supports the Scottish Government's national priorities of giving all children the best start in life and making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. The Scottish Government's early learning and childcare expansion programme key objectives are Quality, Flexibility, Affordability and Accessibility.

This guidance document meets the Scottish Government's Programme for Government and Blueprint 2020 Action Plan 2017-18 commitment to develop good design guidance which will support the delivery of high quality early learning and childcare as part of the expansion of the ELC entitlement to 1140 hours per year from August 2020.

The guidance aims to maximise the positive experiences for children and improve the quality of care and learning by helping ELC services to think innovatively about design. The guidance aims to provide clarity on expectations for all existing and new settings without being prescriptive, and will act as a tool for providers, planners and architects when creating, extending or refurbishing ELC and out of school care services. It will also support local authorities in the preparation of their ELC Expansion Plans by late September.

The guidance will also help to address any perceived inconsistences in the current application of standards and regulations, and provide clarity over minimum space standards where applicable. Although the guidance provides insight into what constitutes good design, illustrated through case studies from Scotland and further afield, it acknowledges that all ELC environments are different. The focus throughout remains on the positive impact a well-designed indoor and outdoor environment has on improving outcomes and experiences for children.


Email: Jeff Maguire,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road