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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-14742: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 20 February 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take in response to recent research by Fair Funding for our Kids, which suggests that half of all nursery places are for half days only, which means that parents have less flexibility when it comes to choosing their working or training hours.

Answered by: Maree Todd 6 March 2018

As part of the expansion to 600 hours from 2014 we provided local authorities with additional funding to support an increase in flexibility. As a result we have seen flexibility increase with more providers offering choice of provision, increased opening hours, and more settings open all year round.

However we know that some places offered to parents are not where and when they need them. This is why we are committed to further improving flexibility as part of the expansion in the funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1140 hours by 2020. However, this must be done in a way which ensures very high quality provision because, although the benefits to parents are important, the expansion is fundamentally about improving the early years’ experience of our youngest children.

To safeguard high quality settings whilst ensuring parents have a greater choice of providers from which they can access their funded entitlement we will introduce a new Funding Follows the Child approach from 2020. We will also shortly launch a consultation to ensure that existing provisions on flexibility, including the requirements for local authorities to consult with parents at least every 2 years, are appropriate for the introduction of the expanded entitlement.