New group to help expand early learning and childcare in Scotland

A new group has been announced to help develop the Scottish Government’s plans to significantly expand early learning and childcare.

The announcement was made by the Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell as she spoke at the Children in Scotland conference and responded to the Commission for Childcare Reform’s report on early learning and childcare.

Ms Campbell said:“The early years are a crucial time in a child’s life and evidence has shown access to quality early learning and childcare helps improve educational outcomes. It can also have wider benefits for a family by allowing parents and carers to return to work, education or training.

“That is why this government has gone further than any other UK administration in its plans to expand funded early learning and childcare, by committing to 1,140 hours per year by the end of the next Parliament.

“We want to develop a high quality, flexible system of early learning and childcare that is affordable and accessible for all.

“ I announced the establishment of a new Early Learning and Childcare Strategic Forum to help us develop these plans and ensure they are realistic, achievable, sustainable and importantly, have high quality at its core. This was one of the recommendations from the commission and the forum will include representatives from the private, public and third sectors with parents also represented. More details will be announced soon.”

Responding to other aspects of the commission’s report, the Minister added: “I’m pleased the commission recognised our commitment to improving access to flexible, high quality early learning and childcare. They also shared our belief that more powers over tax, benefits and welfare spending should be devolved to Scotland.

“’The commission suggests that some of their recommendations would take between five and ten years to implement. We too are mindful that our expansion should be done sustainably to ensure there is capacity both in local authority infrastructure and in the early years workforce. We have also been clear that we will not sacrifice quality to implement the expansion.

“The report’s recommendations were wide ranging and detailed and will provide a useful starting point for the new group in considering how we continue our preparations for our ambitious plans.”