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Childcare expansion: prioritise quality and inclusive practice, and ensure that the child’s experience is central

11 March 2020

Children in Scotland has responded to the issues raised by today’s Holyrood debate on childcare expansion and the recent publication of Audit Scotland's review of progress.

Sally Cavers, Children in Scotland’s Head of Inclusion, said:

“We believe that the quality of childcare on offer is the vital element of this expansion, and that the experience of the child – particularly given the significant increase in hours – is central.

It should be acknowledged that the government’s childcare expansion plan is a very significant infrastructure project for Scotland. In this context we welcome the fact that at this stage 90% of providers appear to have met the standards required.

But we would be concerned by any indication of compromises in standards and the potential impact this could have on children.

Tied to the issue of quality is the skills and status of the early learning and childcare workforce. They are the front line in supporting all childhood development in ELC settings. Pay, training and attitudes to the contribution they make should reflect this.

We note that Audit Scotland’s report highlights Brexit’s likely impact on recruiting and retaining staff to work in childcare settings – a concern that has been raised by our own members.

Another fundamental consideration of the expansion process is inclusive practice. Childcare providers have responsibilities under Additional Support for Learning legislation to ensure that provision is accessible for young children with additional support needs, and we continue to reiterate this message to the Scottish Government.

Children in Scotland administers the Early Learning Childcare and Inclusion Fund, which provides funding to ELC settings to support children with additional support needs in Scotland access their funded ELC entitlement, and we are fully supportive of ongoing efforts to make centres more inclusive.”

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