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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10000: Rachael Hamilton (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 28 June 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making with the implementation of expanded early learning and childcare; how it is ensuring that childminders are included in this, and what guidance regarding the inclusion of childminders it has produced or plans.

Answered by: Mark McDonald 19 July 2017

On 23rd March 2017 we published our Blueprint for 2020 Action Plan. This sets out 31 key steps we will take in 2017-18 to progress delivery on our commitment to nearly double funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1140 hours a year by 2020, for eligible 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds in Scotland. This will ensure that the expansion of early learning and childcare is rooted in a high quality experience for our children and will support our delivery partners in building additional capacity. We are on track to deliver these actions and we are working closely with local authorities to produce ELC Expansion Plans, due for submission in September 2017.

The Blueprint is clear about the key role childminders and community childminders have to play in delivering the expanded entitlement, especially for younger children. This could be through, for example, increased use of ‘blended models’ which involve children spending time in both a nursery setting and with a childminder.

A key part of this policy framework will be the introduction of a new funding follows the child model, which is built upon a ‘provider neutral’ approach, by 2020. This will be built upon a national standard which will create a more open, proportionate, and consistent process for providers (including childminders) to deliver the funded entitlement.

We are currently supporting a programme of delivery model trials which will provide helpful learning on making optimum use of childminders in delivering the funded entitlement. 10 of the 14 trials in the programme, which is running during 2017-18, involve childminders. The learning from these trials will be shared with local authorities on an on-going basis and will be embedded within an evaluation framework for the expansion to 1140 hours.

We are committed to delivering a new standard of best practice for childminders. As part of this we will work with the Care Inspectorate and other partners to launch a new Learning and Development Pathway for childminders in September 2017.