CHOICE AND QUALITY AT HEART OF EARLY LEARNING AND CHILDCARE EXPANSION

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed news that parents are to be given more choice than ever before when accessing their child’s free nursery provision.
It comes after the Scottish Government confirmed that quality and choice will be at the heart of plans to expand free early learning and childcare for all three and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds, from 600 hours a year to 1140 hours by 2020.

Holyrood ministers are working in partnership with local authorities to develop details of how the expansion will be delivered, under a model known as “funding follows the child”. This will include removing barriers many private and third sector providers say prevent them from offering the existing free childcare provision. It will be underpinned by a new national standard for funded provider status to ensure a consistently high quality of learning and care across the country, regardless of postcode.

Mr Matheson said: “The SNP Government’s work to expand high-quality, free early learning and childcare provision is vital to our commitment to closing the attainment gap and giving all our children the best possible start in life.

“It’s welcome news that this will include greater flexibility to give parents a genuine choice of providers, including increasing the role of childminders, while still ensuring that children get the best possible care.

“I’m also delighted that the expansion plans include a commitment that all childcare staff delivering this free provision will be paid at least the Living Wage, as is already the case in public sector nurseries.”