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Publication - Report

Early learning and childcare trials discussion paper: analysis of responses

Published: 15 Jun 2016
Part of:
Children and families
ISBN:
9781786522566

Analysis of responses to a discussion on establishing delivery model trials to support expanding the early learning and childcare provision.

68 page PDF

567.4kB

68 page PDF

567.4kB

Contents
Early learning and childcare trials discussion paper: analysis of responses
5. Views On The Key Barriers To Successfully Implementing The 1140 Hours Commitment

68 page PDF

567.4kB

5. Views On The Key Barriers To Successfully Implementing The 1140 Hours Commitment

Background
The Scottish Government aims to implement the commitment to 1140 hours ELC by August 2020. It acknowledges that there may be barriers to address in order to fulfil this commitment. These, it suggests, could be financial, organisational, cultural, or take some other form.

Question 3: What do you see as the key barriers to a successful implementation of the 1140 hours commitment?

5.1 70 respondents addressed this question. A prevailing concern was that quality of provision should not be compromised during trials and subsequent implementation. A view shared by many was that the lead-in time to implementation was challenging with respect to the increased workforce and capacity required and that the focus should remain child-centred rather than process oriented. A few respondents across several sectors identified hastily built or adapted premises and inexperienced staff lacking in training, as potential risks arising from short-cuts which may be taken to enable implementation by the target date.

5.2 The two main barriers to successful implementation identified repeatedly by respondents were lack of ELC places to meet demand; and lack of staff who are suitably qualified and experienced to deliver quality provision.

Lack of ELC places to meet demand
5.3 Respondents representing all sectors highlighted their concerns over the availability of quality ELC places to meet demand by 2020. For example, several private nurseries described their current provision of morning or afternoon places, but remarked that if children had expanded hours, the nursery would need to either double provision or half the number of children taken.

5.4 Recurring concerns were that:

  • Community ELC premises ( e.g. church halls) may not be suitable for physical extension and also not suitable for extended hours due to being shared with other users.
  • Outdoor space cannot be compromised ( e.g. by extensions to premises) as this will limit opportunity for outdoor activities.
  • School buildings are not necessarily designed for two year olds who will require premises more suitable for their needs ( e.g. areas for sleeping).
  • Expanded hours will result in increased catering as children will have to be fed. Current settings may need to be adapted to accommodate food preparation and provision.

Lack of suitably qualified and experienced workforce
5.5 A common view was that increasing the number of suitably qualified and experienced staff to cover the expanded hours by 2020 would be a significant challenge. Problems were foreseen particularly in relation to staffing in rural areas; achieving a gender balance in staff; boosting numbers of staff who can deliver quality ELC across the range of ages from two to four years; increasing numbers of staff with specialisms to deal with additional support needs, disabilities and additional language needs including Gaelic medium provision. Current gaps were identified in staff capable of delivering arts and other creative experiences; and those able to lead and facilitate learning using innovative and play-based approaches. One individual respondent questioned whether those currently working in the sector would even wish to change their lifestyle to working longer hours for more weeks of the year.

5.6 Increasing the numbers of qualified teachers who wish to work in ELC settings was identified as a barrier as was achieving the higher numbers of associated support and regulatory body workforces; those in national support organisations; education and training providers; payroll, recruitment and HR service staff.

5.7 Low pay and status not commensurate with qualifications and skills were perceived to be key barriers to attracting and retaining qualified and experienced staff to the profession. Inequalities in pay scales across sectors were also identified as challenging in terms of retaining private nursery staff, with some private nurseries describing how they train staff only to have them "cherry picked" by local authorities who have offered more pay and better terms and conditions.

5.8 Integrated working across professionals was perceived by one respondent (other category) to be hampered by the current mis-match in pay and status between those in ELC settings and others.

5.9 Many respondents anticipated the need for a sea-change in workforce training provision with a vast expansion in places offered to upskill those delivering ELC and those wishing to enter the profession. However, some predicted a flood of new recruits who, whilst attaining a qualification, may not have experience, which could then threaten quality of provision, at least in the short term.

5.10 A few respondents identified increased roles for registered childminders to boost the workforce delivering ELC. However, several barriers to enhancing their role were raised including what were seen as challenges in the way their services are commissioned:

"....those local authorities who are considering using childminders are placing unnecessary barriers in their way such as unwieldy tender documentation; lack of briefings/information sharing with childminders; requesting childminders have specific qualifications; lack of understanding from the authorities on the significance of Care Inspectorate grades and; suggesting there will be over-burdensome HMIE inspections carried out" (Representative Body).

5.11 One registered childminder cautioned that if local authorities decide to restrict expanded hours to their own services only, they could risk putting childminders out of business.

Financial barriers to successful implementation
5.12 A common theme, particularly amongst private and third sector and voluntary providers, was that the current funding they receive from local authorities for free places at their setting is not adequate to cover all of their costs and requires to be supplemented by top-up payments from parents who purchase additional hours. One private sector respondent agreed:

"Funding is too low as doesn't allow private settings to act as a profitable business."

5.13 Many of those working in private nursery settings were concerned that without increased funding per place, particularly in respect of potential additional costs for meals and expanded/alterations to premises, they could go out of business, resulting in fewer ELC places rather than more. A few private nurseries envisaged significant increases in their costs for workforce training and upskilling.

5.14 Some respondents (largely private nurseries) cited what they felt was the unfair playing field of unequal funding in relation to local authority settings as hindering their expansion to meet higher levels of demand. Calls were made for nationally set payments per child place. A few respondents across different sectors reported difficulties with cash flow in private settings due to payment patterns set by local authorities.

Other barriers to successful implementation identified by respondents
5.15 A number of other barriers were identified:

Increased bureaucracy
A few respondents cited red tape associated particularly with inspections and eligibility checking as potentially challenging to further expansion. Having two regulators for ELC (Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland) was perceived as contributing to increased paperwork for providers.

Lack of consistency
Calls were made for greater consistency across settings and across local authorities in order to progress cohesively towards 1140 expansion. Current barriers were cited as inconsistent quality standards; different requirements for qualification of lead professional; varying eligibility dates such as birthdate of child or beginning of term time following eligible birthday.

A few respondents perceived a lack of overall national policy and framework with no one organisation or individual at the helm providing a clear lead. There was demand from respondents for an overarching national policy under which local flexibility could develop.

Lack of effective partnership working
Many respondents envisaged innovative working and liaison arrangements between stakeholders as key to unlocking greater potential for expansion. Most felt that productive relationships between local authorities and other providers were lacking with different parties adopting sometimes conflicting policies and vision and information sharing across sectors ( e.g. in relation to children with particular needs) being minimal.

Close working between providers and specialist services such as speech and language therapy services was viewed as limited, as were consultative activities between providers and parents.

What was perceived as a general lack of collaborative working was seen as a factor which inhibited adherence to GIRFEC approaches and a barrier to future implementation of the 1140 hours commitment.

Sustainability
Questions were raised over the degree to which expanded hours would be sustainable under different Scottish Government administrations; and indeed, following trials.

Lack of information about expanded provision
A few respondents considered that current information on provision is patchy and sometimes misleading due to being incomplete. There was confusion over where comprehensive information about all provision in one geographical area could be accessed. This lack of complete information was viewed as possibly contributing to lack of take up of places for two year olds and was identified as a potential barrier to take up of expanded hours provision.

Ensuring information is accurate and portrays ELC services in an appropriate manner was viewed as challenging but necessary as part of managing parental expectations of what was on offer.

Lack of appropriate and comprehensive monitoring data
A few respondents expressed concern that appropriate monitoring and data collection systems may not be in place to capture information on outcomes during the trials, thereby reducing opportunity to learn from them.

Question 4: How might these trials be designed to overcome such barriers?

5.16 Most of those who identified barriers to successful implementation also provided views on how such barriers could be overcome although some simply provided recommendations more generally for how the trials should be run.

Views on addressing lack of ELC places to meet demand
5.17 A recurring view was that a programme of purpose-built settings would be required to accommodate the extra space required to meet 1140 hours demand. One representative body envisaged this as an opportunity to draw on experts from architecture, planning and design to create innovative ELC settings building on best practice in other jurisdictions. Others identified new requirements such as meal preparation and sleeping space to be built into future design.

5.18 The trials were seen as testing innovative uses of existing settings whilst also putting in motion plans for a new infrastructure of settings, built specifically for ELC delivery.

Views on addressing lack of suitably qualified and experienced workforce
5.19 An underlying theme was that significant culture and attitudinal changes are required to improve perceptions of the status of the ELC workforce and make the profession attractive to men and women alike.

5.20 One key route to changing attitudes was seen as providing pay and terms and conditions commensurate with the skills and qualifications demanded of the job, with parity between workers in different sectors. One union recommended early research to establish the range of terms and conditions and pay of qualified childcare staff to allow a benchmark position to be set. Several respondents highlighted the need for future pay and conditions to take account of non-contact planning and preparatory time in addition to additional training time demanded by the expanded hours.

5.21 Many respondents recommended that in order to meet the 1140 hours commitment by 2020, significant work would be required immediately to put in place policies to developing the existing workforce, in addition to attracting, training and retaining additional workers. A phased approach was the preferred option in which gradual expansions in college places could be put in place to accommodate increased demand for qualifications. Calls were made for creativity in terms of routes to qualifications and opportunities for currently untapped potential to be drawn into the workforce ( e.g. older people who have been made redundant; parents of children receiving ELC; returners to the workforce; men).

5.22 One local authority specifically suggested that gender diversity be a focus within trials in order to showcase good practice examples of a diverse workforce in operation.

5.23 A recurring theme was that registered childminders could play a key role in an expanded workforce. One respondent (other category) saw merit in early discussions with the Scottish Childminding Association over the role and potential influence of this sector in relation to providing flexibility of provision and mixed models of care. A representative body suggested showcasing childminders who are already involved in successful "blended" models of care, providing the link between other provision and meeting the individual needs of families.

5.24 One Third sector and Voluntary provider emphasised the need for the trials to involve non-statutory providers such as childminders, playgroups, private nurseries and out of school care, all of which could contribute to the increased flexibility and additional workforce required for 1140 hours.

Views on addressing financial barriers to implementation
5.25 Calls were made by several respondents for funding from local authorities to commissioned providers to be more transparent and less confusing. A recurring view was for ELC funds to be ring-fenced and set at an appropriate and standardised sum per child place. Some respondents referred to what they perceived to be the "top slicing" of funds by local authorities which cut down the funding available to private nurseries commissioned by councils.

5.26 One private nursery recommended that financial assistance is given to private nurseries in the form of recoverable VAT; reduced business rates; grants and bursaries; and free training for workers.

5.27 One recurring recommendation for trialling was a voucher scheme in which parents are provided with funding directly (in the form of vouchers) which they can "spend" at the provider(s) of their choice. Under this model, providers would not have to tender for contracts from the local authority, but would be able to participate on the basis that they had passed relevant inspection.

Views on addressing other barriers
5.28 Views on addressing other identified barriers were:

Bureaucracy

  • Offer universal option of expanded hours to all 2 year olds.
  • Rationalise regulation to only one regulator per setting.

Lack of consistency

  • Introduce a national framework for childcare provision.
  • Introduce equal pay and conditions across different providers.
  • Introduce one policy lead to provide direction and an overarching structure.

Ineffective partnership working

  • Greater involvement of the voluntary sector was recommended as: ".....involving the Third Sector Interface and its local networks strategically at an early planning stage, would help maximise the third sector's contribution, increase significantly the flow of information, and reduce the barriers" (Voluntary organisation).
  • Integrated working between stakeholders regarding planning for any new build/extensions for the purpose of the trials.
  • Routine involvement and engagement with parents/families and ELC providers to be strengthened in trials.
  • Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland to liaise to rationalise inspection regimes and duplication and minimise burden on services in trials.

Sustainability

  • Cross-party consensus required on ELC policy.
  • Ensure expanded number of hours continues post trials.

Lack of information

  • Identify one clear information point for comprehensive and impartial information on ELC provision.
  • Trial local databases of options; use community newsletters; other local accessible outlets for provision of information.

Lack of appropriate and comprehensive data

  • National Care Standards and SHANARRI could be used to help develop an evaluative framework for the trials.
  • Careful planning of a baseline and evaluative framework required which is open and transparent and includes comprehensive assessment of costs.

Implications for proposed trials
5.29 The two main barriers to successful implementation of the 1140 commitment were identified as lack of ELC places to meet demand; and lack of suitably qualified and experienced workforce.

5.30 Trials could test models of increasing physical space for ELC provision through expert involvement in changing design and altering existing premises with acceptable compromises on outdoor space. Alongside increasing physical capacity, trials could test innovative approaches of upskilling staff and attracting staff to the sector, perhaps through collaborative work with local colleges; outreach work with schools; and awareness raising and publicity work to make ELC the profession of choice.

5.31 The particular challenges of establishing and retaining a suitably qualified workforce in rural areas were raised, suggesting that trials should incorporate rurality and innovation in learning such as greater use of e-learning or satellite hubs of learning bringing together ELC workforce from across the region with an outreach tutor.


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