Council warning over funding and recruitment for Scottish early years expansion

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One of Scotland’s largest councils has admitted that fulfilling the Scottish Government’s 1,140 hour childcare offer for three- and four-year-olds will pose a ‘significant challenge’.

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The summary of a report by Audit Scotland on the expansion of early learning and childcare, released by the City of Edinburgh Council, acknowledges that there are ‘significant risks’ that councils will not be able to meet the Government’s pledge to expand funded provision by August 2020 .

It cites difficulties in recruiting hundreds of early years staff within the timeframe.

In its summary of the Audit Scotland report, the City of Edinburgh Council said that while there are currently approximately 650 staff working in local authority early learning and childcare settings, it estimated another 700 may be required to deliver the 1,140 hours to all eligible children by 2020. The council admitted the levels of recruitment necessary represent ‘a significant challenge.’

The summary also said that within the City of Edinburgh Council area there was a projected capacity shortfall of almost 3,000 places for three- to four-year-olds, and a shortfall of 360 places for two-year-olds.

In order to address these shortfalls, the council suggested existing facilities may be adapted, and opening hours and management arrangements changed, but acknowledged a significant programme of new build would also be required.

The council said if this expansion strategy was implemented it would meet projected demand.

The Scottish Government has estimated the cost of delivering the 1,140 hours at £840 million per year, while the report suggested initial estimates from councils were significantly higher, at around £1billion per year.

ian-perryCouncillor Ian Perry said, ‘Meeting the ambitious target of 1,140 hours by 2020 is a significant challenge for the council but one we are making positive progress on and leading the way in Scotland. From August, 49 local authority and 11 partner provider settings across the city will be delivering the additional hours for over 2,000 two- and four-year-olds. This includes our innovative forest kindergarten provision and pilot project with childminders.



‘The Scottish Government have agreed to our requested funding of over £87.5m over the next four years which will help with the recruitment of staff and new early years facilities that are required. We have estimated that we will require an additional 700 staff to enable us to deliver the early years expansion by 2020. From August we will also have 90 additional staff who have been newly recruited to join the early years service and we will continue to develop our marketing and recruitment campaign to attract more people to this rewarding career.

‘We have developed an expansion plan which will provide a variety of delivery models and all current and projected eligible children will have access to a place in their own locality. There will be hurdles to overcome to meet this target but we are determined to do everything we can to ensure our children have the best possible start in life.’

In June, the NDNA annual survey suggested that almost half of private nurseries in Scotland were unlikely to offer the extended childcare offer.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said, ‘There is no question that this is an ambitious policy, but we believe that our children deserve a government that is ambitious for them.’
She added, ‘Government, local authorities and stakeholders throughout the sector are working tirelessly behind the scenes to prepare for the most ambitious expansion of funded early learning and childcare this country has ever seen and despite the scale of the challenge we absolutely remain on track to deliver.’

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is no question that this is an ambitious policy, but we believe that our children deserve a government that is ambitious for them.” She added: “Government, local authorities and stakeholders throughout the sector are working tirelessly behind the scenes to prepare for the most ambitious expansion of funded early learning and childcare this country has ever seen and despite the scale of the challenge we absolutely remain on track to deliver.”

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-council-warns-childcare-revolution-in-doubt-over-staff-shortfall-1-4776502
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is no question that this is an ambitious policy, but we believe that our children deserve a government that is ambitious for them.” She added: “Government, local authorities and stakeholders throughout the sector are working tirelessly behind the scenes to prepare for the most ambitious expansion of funded early learning and childcare this country has ever seen and despite the scale of the challenge we absolutely remain on track to deliver.”

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-council-warns-childcare-revolution-in-doubt-over-staff-shortfall-1-4776502
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is no question that this is an ambitious policy, but we believe that our children deserve a government that is ambitious for them.” She added: “Government, local authorities and stakeholders throughout the sector are working tirelessly behind the scenes to prepare for the most ambitious expansion of funded early learning and childcare this country has ever seen and despite the scale of the challenge we absolutely remain on track to deliver.”

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-council-warns-childcare-revolution-in-doubt-over-staff-shortfall-1-4776502
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