The Scottish Government’s aim is to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up, and to give all of our children the best possible start in life.
It is widely acknowledged that the provision of universally accessible and high quality early learning and childcare enriches children with the skills and confidence to carry into and multiply throughout school, and is a cornerstone for closing attainment and inequality gaps.
That is why we will deliver a transformative change in the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) provision by almost doubling the free entitlement to 1140 hours per year by 2020.
Through this Blueprint Consultation we have set out the Scottish Government’s high level vision for the expansion in ELC provision in Scotland. This will be underpinned by the principles of Quality, Flexibility, Accessibility and Affordability.
We are at a pivotal moment in developing the policy approach which will shape how this vision is delivered. This consultation will help support the development of these policy approaches.
Why We Are Consulting
Alongside the current Governance Review, we are using the Blueprint Consultation to seek views on the range of policy choices that we face, including funding models and phasing of provision, as we take forward the commitment to providing 1140 hours per year of early learning and childcare by 2020. These are important choices which will ultimately shape the future direction and structure of the ELC sector.
There is currently a substantial amount of planning and research work being undertaken to inform the actions that will drive the required expansion to 1140 hours, including: the commencement in January 2017 of a programme of trials to test new and innovative ELC delivery models across Scotland; development of new leading good design guidance for ELC settings in summer 2017; a substantial recruitment drive across the ELC sector and the development of a Skills Investment Plan for the ELC sector; and an intensive programme of infrastructure investment.
We are committed to continuing to work with partners and stakeholders on the development of the expanded ELC policy, and are grateful for the input from The ELC Strategic Forum and others in helping to shape the vision and high level objectives for the expansion as set out in this document.
We are now inviting, as part of this consultation, input on the range of key policy choices for delivering this vision.
Responses will be analysed independently and a response to consultation findings will be published in the spring of 2017.