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Wellbeing of every child and focus on quality ‘key to successful childcare expansion’

 

 

Children in Scotland has set out practical recommendations for expanding early learning and childcare in Scotland whilst maintaining a commitment to developing and sustaining high quality.

In its response to the Scottish Government consultation A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland, Children in Scotland recommends a phased implementation of funding reform over the next three years.

This is proposed as part of a plan that puts the wellbeing of every child first while also increasing flexibility and affordability for the families who require support.

Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, said:

“We know that a child’s early years represent the most critical period for human development, and the greatest opportunity to influence life chances and future outcomes. We have drawn on our extensive experience of championing children’s rights and of researching, evaluating and developing policy and services for children during their early years.

“Our response provides practical recommendations for creating a sustainable system that has the wellbeing of every child as its first and foremost objective, and is affordable and flexible for families.

“We believe these recommendations will help ensure the commitment to extend high quality early learning and childcare to 1140 hours by the year 2020 can be achieved, and sustained in the years beyond.

“However, it will require strong partnership working between the Scottish Government and local government, a strong implementation plan progressing in the three-year period between now and 2020, as well as financial commitment. We welcome the £60m promised for the development of early learning and childcare in the forthcoming budget. However, this commitment will need to continue in future budgets.”

Children in Scotland has set out the following recommendations for reform:

  • A system that has, as its key objective, the wellbeing of each child must be grounded in the principles of children’s rights; focus on building consistent, stable and supportive relationships with children and families; and support exploratory and creative play and learning.
     
  • A professional workforce, with an appropriate skill and knowledge base, is key to achieving this. International evidence shows the best outcomes for young children are consistent with a degree-level qualification with content designed around a thorough understanding of early childhood development and of the curricular approaches that provide optimal experiences. We believe that the principles, values and practices inherent in the degree-level social pedagogy qualification are very well suited to provide a good service for young children.
     
  • Increased flexibility within the system providing a higher quality service to children with all nursery classes working towards parental choice within all-day, all-year availability.
     
  • A system where every setting – local authority-run and independent providers in the private and third sectors – can recruit and retain the high calibre staff required to deliver high quality early learning and care.
     
  • Calculate costs for a high-quality system of early learning and childcare and draw up a plan for staged implementation of funding options, gradually increasing and then achieving fair and sustainable funding across the early years sector.
     
  • Eliminate discrepancy between the rate (£/child/hour) paid to local authority providers and the (most often) lower rate paid to partner providers (in the private and third sector). The rate must be sufficient to develop and ensure quality and be given with clear conditions.
     
  • Simplify the funding system and work towards the creation of a single account that will ‘follow the child’ so that families can see clearly what funding is available and choose a setting that best suits their child.
     
  • Work towards a sliding scale of charging based on income, with free early learning and childcare for some and a cost ceiling for all (no more than 10% of income), with the difference in provider income being met by the government.

(ends)

Read the full consultation response here.

Media contact:

Chris Small
Email: csmall@childreninscotland.org.uk
Tel: 0131 313 8824

Notes for editors:

Children in Scotland is the collective voice for children, young people and families in Scotland, and organisations and businesses that have a significant impact on children’s lives in Scotland. It is an influencing and membership organisation, comprised of more than 500 representatives from the voluntary, public and private sectors.