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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-03730: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 12 October 2016

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the statement by the First Minister on 5 January 2016 (Official Report, c. 15) that figures on the uptake of entitlement to funded early learning and childcare for two-year-olds were “already out of date”, for what reason the same figures were referred to in the publications, Financial Review of early learning and childcare in Scotland: the current landscape, which it published on 27 September 2016 and, Implementing Early Learning and Childcare under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014: Progress Update, which it published on 11 October 2016, and, in light of the First Minister's comments, for what reason new figures have not been collated.

Answered by: Mark McDonald 11 November 2016

The Scottish Government has previously acknowledged that because there is a staggered intake of two year olds across all three school terms, the full level of uptake for each annual cohort is not known at the time when the official census is undertaken. Registration of children for early learning is also more flexible because it is not compulsory and children can therefore be registered at any time, e.g. between the date of the census and the date of publication of census data in 2015, Glasgow City Council advised the Scottish Government that an additional 861 two years olds were receiving early learning and childcare.

The statistics based on the 2015 census findings were included in the Financial Review and in the Progress Update because these are the current official statistics available.

In the longer term, we are undertaking a data transformation project to make sure the census fully reflects the early learning and childcare policy changes and user needs. As part of this process, a national consultation has been carried out with those who collate and/or use the data. Scottish Government officials are currently considering findings from this work with a view to making changes to the Early Learning and Childcare census, including on its timing.