NDNA seals deal for Scottish providers ahead of childcare expansion

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The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has partnered with Scotland’s association of councils to draw up principles of working together that local authorities and providers must adhere to.

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Purnima Tanuku, chief executive, of the National Day Nurseries Association

The move is in reaction to concerns from NDNA’s members delivering funded places about the lack of partnership working with some Scottish local authorities, and that they were being excluded from pilots of the expanded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) offer.

NDNA Scotland has agreed partnership principles regarding the expansion of ELC for three- and four-year-olds with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), which rises to 1,140 hours from 2020.

The nine principles of working have been laid out in a document, approved by heads of all 32 local authorities in Scotland. The principles cover transparency, accountability and communications between councils and providers.

The Scottish government and Association of Directors of Education in Scotland also contributed to the document, which applies to all childcare settings that have entered into an agreement with their local authority to offer funded places.

The nine principles include:

  • All employers providing funded hours must meet the National Standard requirements – due to be published by the Scottish government in the autumn.
  • Regular meetings between local authorities and providers with clear actions agreed where appropriate.
  • Local authorities and providers should identify a key contact person for partnerships matters. Any changes to this should be communicated in a timely manner.
  • Local authorities and providers should develop an agreement on the provision of training and sharing of good practice to support the delivery of the expansion of ELC in their area.
  • There should be transparency in terms of decision-making by local authorities and providers which impact on service delivery.
  • There should be recognition of views and needs of all parties, with the needs of children at the very centre of ELC delivery.
  • The local democratic processes covering accountability for decisions around ELC provision will be clearly set out.

NDNA Scotland is urging local councils to work in a way that fully embraces these principles of partnership working.

Providers' concerns

According to NDNA, private and third sector nurseries in Scotland have ‘grave concerns’ about whether the ELC expansion will be adequately funded.

Its survey of Scottish providers showed that 79 per cent of nurseries are currently making a loss on funded places for three- and four-year-olds, with the average shortfall amounting to £1.98 per hour, per child.

Private nurseries also fear that local authorities will favour council-run providers despite the fact most settings are sessional and term-time only. There are also concerns among providers that duplication of provision through capital funding programmes would seriously threaten the sustainability of existing provision.

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Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of NDNA, said, ‘This is a massive step for our two organisations and is really positive for families and nurseries across the country.

‘We agreed this partnership at the ELC strategic forum with the minister Maree Todd and COSLA spokesperson on children and young People, councillor Stephen McCabe.

‘We are delighted to have agreed these nine principles of working. There will be many childcare providers already working with councils or keen to be involved with the expansion, wanting to help with pilot projects and the future roll-out. They can expect a much better working relationship with their local authority from the outset.

‘NDNA Scotland will continue to meet regularly with COSLA to continue this constructive relationship and make sure that all the expansion plans continue to involve all parties.’

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