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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-14418: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 5 February 2018

To ask the Scottish Government how the (a) Attainment Scotland Fund and (b) Pupil Equity Fund is specifically being used to support transitions from early learning and childcare to primary school.

Answered by: John Swinney 20 February 2018

A key priority for this government is to substantially close the gap between the attainment of children from the most and least disadvantaged areas. Addressing the attainment gap in the early years of a child’s life is fundamental to achieving this ambition.

Whilst local Authorities and schools are targeting their funding in different ways there is a clear focus on the importance of the early years of a child’s life. In recognition of the importance of providing additional support early, particularly throughout the first years of transition to primary school, a significant part of the Attainment Scotland Funding continues to be targeted at children who need it most in P1-P3. There are also examples of the funding being used to target younger children such as through engagement with early years establishments, training for staff in early years centres and exploring early years approaches to raising attainment from birth to age 5.

Although The Attainment Scotland Fund has primarily been targeted at school age children this should be seen in the context of the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing our children with high quality early learning and childcare. By 2020, parents of 3 and 4 year olds (as well as some eligible 2 year olds) will be entitled to 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare per year, up from the current 600 hours per year. Those children are already being cared for by well qualified practitioners, trained to help them reach their potential and to help them transition in to primary school.