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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-14902: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 27 February 2018

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the Growing Up in Scotland report, which reportedly found that the quality of childcare in private nurseries to be lower than in local authority settings, how it plans to overcome any inequalities in the childcare workforce.

Answered by: Maree Todd 9 March 2018

Our new Funding Follows the Child approach, due for introduction in August 2020, will further prioritise and safeguard high quality provision across all sectors. This model will be underpinned by a national standard that all early learning and childcare providers will be required to meet in order to deliver the funded entitlement. At the heart of the standard will be a set of quality criteria. This should ensure that children have access to a guaranteed level of quality regardless of where they access their entitlement. Details of the proposed national standard will be published by the end of March.

Our commitment to provide sufficient funding to enable providers across all sectors to pay childcare staff delivering the funded entitlement at least the Living Wage will help to deliver sustainable funding for all providers.

Our Quality Action Plan (available at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/10/9506 ) makes it clear that the single most important driver of the quality of a child’s early learning and childcare experience is a high quality workforce. It is particularly encouraging then that, although the Growing Up in Scotland report highlights differences in quality in private settings, it also notes that the proportion of children who attended a provider with a high staffing quality grade increased across all provider types between the two birth cohorts being followed in the study.

We want to see quality enhanced further still and the actions set out in our Quality Action Plan demonstrate our strong commitment to investing in the professional development of the early learning and childcare workforce. Among the 15 actions in that plan are commitments to: prepare a national induction resource for all staff who are new to delivering early learning and childcare; create and deliver an online national programme of continuous professional learning for the sector; and refresh national practice guidance. The plan was developed in close consultation with a Quality Reference Group made up of key stakeholders who best understand what drives high quality provision.