Executive asked to approve plans for increased early learning and childcare hours

A selection of learning tools for young children are laid out on a table.

Published: Wednesday, 1st November 2017

Early learning and childcare hours are being increased from 600 to 1140 per year by the Scottish Government.

They will be available for for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds and need to be in place by end of the parliamentary session 2020 (financial year 2020/21).

The Executive is being asked to approve a report that sets out a service delivery and implementation plan, associated project work and financial commitments in relation to the extra hours. 

Donna Manson, Service Director Children and Young People

“This report is the culmination of a considerable amount of research, analysis and deliberation as we sought to develop a strategy that would enable us to deliver a blended early learning and childcare provision, based on parental choice, that will enable families and carers to select from a range of providers that includes local nurseries, partner providers and childminders in their local area.

“As part of that process, an extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders was carried out in August 2017. We are grateful to everyone who gave us feedback on key aspects of the expansion, including the sharing of ideas and concerns. What we are now putting before the Executive is based on the guiding principles of quality, flexibility, accessibility and affordability which aims to meet the needs of families and carers while delivering a high quality experience for our youngest learners.”

Plans for phases three and four

The report further sets out recommendations for moving forward with Phases 3 and 4 of the plan. Phases 1 and 2 have already been delivered.

Phase 3 would see parents in the school catchment communities previously involved in Phase 2 (Eyemouth, Burnfoot, Coldstream, Greenlaw, Langlee, Kirkhope and Philiphaugh) offered a range of options for taking up the extra hours within settings in their local area. This would include school nurseries, partner provider nurseries or childminder settings and the opportunity for split or blended placements across providers.

If approval is given to proceed, a thorough analysis of the provision that could be available across these seven communities will be undertaken. Engagement with parents will then be carried out to see what their preferences would be before a further report is taken back to the Executive for approval. The aim is to have the provision up and running by August 2018.

Phase 4 will involve identifying the next set of local catchment communities to receive the 1140 hours entitlement. These will be based on analysis using the Scottish Borders Child Poverty Index and factors that relate to rurality, income and employment. This phase is dependent on the Council’s funding allocation from the Scottish Government for the 2018/2019 financial year. Once received, it will then be possible to work out the extent to which communities can benefit before recommendations are taken to the Executive for approval. This will be followed by engagement with parents and providers in the relevant communities with August 2018 the intended delivery date.

A further phase will then be undertaken over the next two years using the criteria outlined above to extend the additional hours to families in the remaining communities.

Councillor Carol Hamilton, Executive Member for Children and Young People

“This proposed expansion of funded early learning and childcare for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds is an opportunity for parents to go back to work, retrain or study, knowing their children are receiving quality care and learning in a parental choice of caring environments best suited to their and their children’s needs.”

Donna Manson, Service Director Children and Young People

“The plans represent a major service transition but we believe that by working in partnership with the Scottish Government, along with partner providers and parents, we will be able to deliver a service that makes the best use of local resources while enabling families to maximise the benefits available to them as a result of these additional hours.”

More information

The report is avialable to download on our website