Effective engagement with staff and parents 'key to successful childcare expansion'
4 March 2020
Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Early Learning and Childcare statutory guidance ahead of the full roll-out of the ELC expansion in August.
Key recommendations in our response include:
- Ongoing engagement with ELC staff during the expansion and beyond
- More emphasis on the importance of including parents and carers as key decision makers when it comes to the best interests of their child
- Further guidance for local authorities regarding effective engagement
- Clarity on how education and authorities are promoting the eligible two-year-old entitlement to address low uptake
- Emphasis on local authorities promoting additional financing available for eligible families, such as the Best Start Early Learning and School Age payments
- Clearer, more consistent approach and provision across local authorities
- Emphasis on local authorities ensuring CPD is accessible to all providers.
Broadly welcoming the guidance, we are pleased to see a clear focus on child wellbeing and a child-centred approach to decision-making.
We agree with the focus on partnerships and communication which is evident throughout the guidance which supports the emphasis on education authorities actively working with families and consultation processes to include a wide range of parents and carers.
However, there are key areas within the guidance which we believe require more clarity or exploration.
Informed by feedback from our members and our wider network, we recognise challenges facing the workforce in coming years and the need for ongoing engagement.
Our project work through CHANGE (Childcare and Nurture Glasgow East) and Open Kindergarten, as well as site visits to ELC settings in our role as administrators of the Early Learning and Childcare Inclusion Fund, have highlighted some specific issues.
These have included the logistical management of longer sessions, workforce recruitment and retention, and the suitability of buildings. Parents have identified concerns about the varying approaches and provision across local authority areas.
Our colleagues in Enquire, Scotland’s advice service for additional support for learning, have also voiced specific concerns that the Additional Support for Learning Act duties are not fully embedded within the guidance as it currently stands.
We are mindful of the low uptake rate for eligible two-year-olds, as highlighted in Audit Scotland’s 2018 report and its follow-up report published earlier this week (click to read). We believe there needs to be more communication about this as an option for qualifying families as well as the additional financial support available.
Finally, we understand CPD opportunities are historically difficult to access for ELC staff and believe there should be a responsibility to make these more widely available.