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Publication - Consultation paper

Early learning and childcare service model for 2020: consultation paper

Published: 29 Mar 2018

This joint consultation with COSLA sets out the Funding Follows the Child approach and seeks views on the proposed National Standard that will underpin it.

45 page PDF

1.0 MB

45 page PDF

1.0 MB

Contents
Early learning and childcare service model for 2020: consultation paper
Section 2: National Standard for Funded Early Learning and Childcare Provision

45 page PDF

1.0 MB

Section 2: National Standard for Funded Early Learning and Childcare Provision

Overview of the National Standard

To ensure the delivery of a provider neutral approach, the National Standard applies to all providers regardless of whether the funded hours are provided by a setting in the public, private or third sectors or through provision offered by childminders.

The National Standard is aligned to the guiding principles, as set out in the Blueprint for 2020: 2017/18 Action Plan, for the expansion to 1140 hours:

  • Quality – At the heart of the National Standard is national quality criteria to ensure a high quality experience for all children, which complements other early years and educational activity to close the attainment gap, and recognises the value of those we entrust to give our children the best start in life.
  • Flexibility – Greater choice of provider and patterns of provision, delivering this in a way that ensures a high quality experience for the child.
  • AccessibilityELC capacity is sufficient and is as conveniently geographically located as possible – particularly in areas of higher deprivation and in rural communities – while also appropriately meeting the needs of children who require additional support.
  • Affordability – Increased access to funded, flexible and high quality ELC regardless of circumstances, removing affordability barriers which may have existed until now.

Improving the Early Years' Experience of our Youngest Children

Getting It Right For Every Child is the national approach aimed at improving outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland. It is underpinned by the recognised need for shared principles and values and a common language among practitioners who provide services for children and families. It recognises the rights of children and young people, focuses on developing and supporting wellbeing and builds on the good practice evident in services across Scotland.

The wellbeing of children and young people is at the heart of Getting It Right For Every Child. We want all our children and young people to be fully supported as they grow and develop. The Quality Action Plan made it clear that the most important driver of quality is an ELC profession that is dedicated to the care, learning and development of our youngest children. The quality of children's day-to-day experience of our ELC offer, and the potential to use that offer to improve longer-term outcomes for children, depend primarily on the quality of human interaction that they have with those working in the sector.

The Getting It Right For Every Child approach is reflected throughout the Funding Follows the Child model, and underpins the National Standard.

Key Criteria

Summary

The proposed criteria focus on what children and their families should expect from their ELC experience, regardless of where they access their entitlement: whether in local authority, private, or voluntary/third sector nurseries.

This should help ensure that, as part of the provider neutral Funding Follows the Child model, there is consistency of high quality provision across all provider types.

The National Standard criteria is grouped under the following requirements:

  • Quality;
  • Accessibility;
  • Business Sustainability;
  • Fair work Practices;
  • Payment Processes; and
  • Food.

In developing the National Standard a key consideration has been to ensure that the requirements are proportionate and appropriate for all providers, including childminders.

Whilst the National Standard requirement groupings are relevant for all providers, in order to ensure that the assessment criteria is fair and proportionate, we are proposing that there are some variations in this criteria for childminders to recognise the nature of the services they provide.

The National Standard For All Providers Delivering Funded Early Learning And Childcare Entitlement

Quality

The evidence tells us that if our early learning and childcare offer is to help give children the best start in life and contribute to closing the poverty-related attainment gap, it has to be of high quality.

The 2017 NHS Health Scotland evidence review on Childcare Quality and Child Outcomes [7] highlighted a number of structural and process indicators of quality including: higher qualified staff; an experienced, competent and confident workforce; good working conditions (which include continuous development and fair pay); and an age-appropriate curriculum. The ELC Quality Action Plan published in October 2017 also highlights the benefits of outdoor learning and play for young children, appropriate and stimulating learning, care and development environments and a focus on self-evaluation, quality assurance and improvement. All of these indicators are reflected in the quality criteria of the National Standard.

A key focus of the proposed quality criteria are Care Inspectorate inspection gradings. This will strengthen the use of externally assessed measures of quality in the commissioning decisions made by local authorities and ensure that these gradings are used in a consistent way. However, for many settings providing the funded hours, inspections will take place only once every three years (depending on the Care Inspectorate's risk assessment and the setting's existing grades). The inspection gradings are therefore supplemented with other measures that can be objectively assessed by local authorities on a more regular basis.

Criteria 1- Staffing, leadership and management

The setting must satisfy the Local Authority that they have provision in place to maintain good quality of staffing, management and leadership. This will require them to demonstrate the following:

All Providers (Excluding Childminders):

  • Sub-criteria 1.1 - Inspection gradings are good or better on themes that relate to quality of staffing, management and leadership [8] .
  • Sub-criteria 1.2 - Sustainable staffing structures are in place which meet the recommended adult: child ratios [9] .
  • Sub-criteria 1.3 - All practitioners and all lead practitioners/managers working in the setting must have either obtained the benchmark qualification for their role or, if they are still within their first 5 years of registering with the SSSC, have started to work towards this.
  • Sub-criteria 1.4 - All SSSC registered staff in the setting are achieving a minimum of 12 hours per year of Continuous Professional Development [10] .
  • Sub-criteria 1.5 - Staff new to delivering funded ELC within the last year are familiar with the content of the most up-to-date version of the national induction resource [11] .

Childminding Businesses:

  • Sub-criteria 1.1- Inspection gradings are good or better on themes that relate to quality of staffing, management and leadership.
  • Sub-criteria 1.2 - The staffing structure in the business is adequate to meet the recommended adult: child ratios [12] .
  • Sub-criteria 1.3 - From the implementation of the full roll-out of 1140 hours, childminders delivering the funded entitlement must be qualified to SCQF Level 7 or, if they are still within their first 5 years of delivering the funded hours, be working towards achieving this qualification
  • Sub-criteria 1.4 - All childminders delivering the funded entitlement are achieving a minimum of 12 hours per year of Continuous Professional Development.
  • Sub-criteria 1.5 - All childminders newly registered to deliver ELC within the last year have undertaken appropriate induction.

Box 1: Potential Qualification Requirement for Childminders

The Blueprint for 2020 Action Plan highlighted that whilst childminders are already delivering high quality provision the introduction of a minimum qualification requirement could provide reassurance, in respect of quality of provision, for parents who are facing choices over the best option for childcare. However, if such a requirement were to be introduced it is vital that the necessary infrastructure, including flexible training options and financial support arrangements, is in place before this could be implemented.

Question 3a: We are proposing that the National Standard includes a qualification requirement for childminders delivering the funded entitlement to be qualified to or working towards the same qualification level as is required for an ELC practitioner (SCQF level 7). What are the advantages of including this criteria?

Question 3b: Are childminders able to access adequate funding to pay for training to SCQF level 7? Are childminders able to access training to SCQF level 7 in a way that is flexible enough to allow them to continue to run their businesses?

Criteria 2 – Development of children's cognitive skills, health and wellbeing

All Providers

The setting must satisfy the Local Authority that they are able to support the development of children's cognitive skills, health and wellbeing. This will require them to demonstrate the following:

  • Sub-criteria 2.1- Inspection gradings are good or better on themes that relate to quality of care and learning experience.
  • Sub-criteria 2.2 - The setting must have a framework to support children's learning that is consistent with the values, purposes and principles of 'Building the Curriculum 2: Active Learning in the Early Years' and other national guidance (including Pre-birth to Three), that is appropriate to support individual children's development and learning through play.

Criteria 3 – Physical Environment

All Providers

  • Sub-criteria 3.1 - Inspection grading of good or better on themes that relate to quality of environment.
  • Sub-criteria 3.2 - Children have access to outdoor play and they experience outdoor learning in a range of environments as part of their funded ELC offer.

Question 4: Our aspiration is to see outdoor learning and play becoming a defining feature of funded ELC in Scotland.

  • Does criteria 3 capture this ambition? If not, how could it be strengthened in a way that is sustainable for providers?
  • What challenges, if any, exist for funded ELC providers to ensure children have access to outdoor play? How can these challenges be overcome?

Criteria 4 – Improvement Planning

All Providers

  • Sub-criteria 4.1 - Inspection grading of good or better on themes that relate to improvement planning.
  • Sub-criteria 4.2 - The ELC setting uses the national guidance on self-evaluation (currently being developed jointly by Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate) to self-evaluate and support improvement and has a clear plan, developed in line with national practice guidance [13] , to continuously improve the quality of provision and outcomes for children and families.

Criteria 5 - Accessibility

As the Funding Follows the Child approach offers more flexibility and increased choice for families, it is vital to ensure that provision remains accessible for all children.

ELC provision must be delivered in a way that ensures equality of access for, and accounts for the varying needs of, all children. These needs can vary depending on a number of factors, including whether a child is disabled or has additional support needs ( ASN); is from an ethnic minority background; where English is the Second or Other Language; where parents request ELC through the medium of Gaelic; or lives in a deprived area.

Local Authorities

Education Authorities in Scotland have a statutory duty to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils, including children in funded ELC. This extends to funded ELC being provided by private and the third/voluntary sector. Local Authorities are required to comply with the Education (Additional Support for Learning)(Scotland) Act 2004. Guidance is provided on this in the Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice [14] .

All Providers

With the support of the local authority, the setting will be willing to make reasonable adaptations to the care and learning environment and provide appropriate support to ensure that children's additional support needs do not provide a barrier to them accessing the full range of experiences on offer, and ensure that their individual needs are met.

Criteria 6 - Business Sustainability

A financially sustainable business is important for the benefits of the child. Consistency in setting and staff is key to a child's development. When young children come into an ELC setting they need a happy, secure environment, rich in opportunities which promote learning and physical activity which at the same time are calm, comforting and responsive. Providing stability and continuity in provision will allow practitioners to build up strong relationships with children through consistent contact time, in a familiar and safe environment.

All Providers (Excluding Childminders):

Settings wishing to deliver the funded entitlement must be financially viable organisations and be able to produce a business proposal and financial forecast/budget/accounts:

  • Existing settings delivering the funded entitlement must ensure that they are able to demonstrate – when required – that their business model continues to be financially viable through the provision of annually audited accounts and forward looking financial forecasts/budgets. A Business Continuity Plan must also be in place before payments of funds for early learning and childcare can be made.
  • New settings wishing to deliver the funded entitlement must ensure that they are able to provide a detailed business proposal including financial planning along with documentary evidence to show the business has access to sufficient working capital to keep the business operational in the initial stages until the income stream builds up.
  • Existing local authority settings will deliver their ELC services in a manner that improves affordability for parents/carers and makes the most effective use of public funds, within the Best Value requirement of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003.

Childminding Businesses:

  • Childminders wishing to deliver the funded entitlement will be expected to have a contingency plan in place, detailing arrangements for the children in their care should they stop providing the service e.g. if the service was temporarily unavailable due to illness or the service was closed permanently.

Next Steps:

Guidance will be published in Autumn 2018 to support providers meet this requirement and will provide further detail on what is expected by: (a) current funded providers; (b) new providers wanting to deliver the funded ELC, and; (c) existing providers who are not currently funded providers but who want to deliver the funded ELC entitlement.

Criteria 7 - Fair Work Practices, including Payment of the Living Wage

The single most important driver of the quality of a child's early learning and childcare experience is a high quality workforce. The promotion of fair work practices, including ensuring that staff are fairly remunerated, is a key way of supporting a high quality workforce.

The Scottish Government believes that employers whose staff are treated fairly, who are well-rewarded, well-motivated, well-led, have access to appropriate opportunities for training and skills development, and who have a diverse workforce are likely to deliver a higher quality of service. This can be supported by the adoption of fair work practices across the sector.

As part of the national roll-out of 1140 hours from 2020 the Scottish Government is committed to providing sufficient revenue funding to allow local authorities to set sustainable hourly rates for funded providers in the private and third sectors that enables them to pay the 'real' living wage to care workers providing the funded entitlement.

Section 3 of this consultation sets out more detail on the Living Wage commitment.

All Providers (Excluding Childminders):

Providers should describe how they will commit to fair work practices for workers engaged in the delivery of the funded ELC entitlement in their setting. In addition to committing to payment of the 'real' living wage, all settings will be able to demonstrate at least one of the following:

  • a fair and equal pay policy across their setting, (including a commitment to supporting the 'real' living wage);
  • ELC managers/lead practitioners have clear managerial responsibilities to nurture talent and help individuals fulfil their potential;
  • promoting equality of opportunity and developing a workforce which reflects the population of Scotland in terms of characteristics such as age, gender, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation and disability;
  • security of employment and hours of work, avoiding exploitative employment practices such as unfair zero hours contracts, or pregnancy and maternity discrimination;
  • consideration of patterns of working (including for example part-time working and/or term-time working) and support for family friendly working and wider work life balance; and
  • support progressive workforce engagement, including trade union membership or alternative arrangements to give staff an effective voice, for example regular staff meetings where possible.

Childminding Businesses:

Where childminders employ staff they should describe how they will commit to fair work practices for workers engaged in the delivery of the funded ELC entitlement in their setting. In addition to committing to payment of the 'real' living wage, childminder settings where staff are employed will be able to demonstrate at least one of the following:

  • a fair and equal pay policy across their setting, (including a commitment to supporting the 'real' living wage);
  • Employers have clear responsibilities to nurture talent and help individuals fulfil their potential;
  • promoting equality of opportunity and developing a workforce which reflects the population of Scotland in terms of characteristics such as age, gender, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation and disability;
  • security of employment and hours of work, and where possible avoiding exploitative employment practices such as unfair zero hours contracts, or pregnancy and maternity discrimination;
  • consideration of patterns of working (including for example part-time working and/or term-time working) and support for family friendly working and wider work life balance; and
  • support progressive workforce engagement, including trade union membership or alternative arrangements to give staff an effective voice, for example regular staff meetings where possible.

Criteria 8 - Payment Processes

Scottish Government policy is for all 3 and 4 year olds, and eligible 2 year olds, to have access to 1140 hours per year of funded ELC from 2020.

Legislation prevents local authorities from charging parents for pre-school education which they provide under the statutory duty and the expectation is for this duty to be extended to funded providers through partnership agreements.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, Early Learning and Childcare, Statutory Guidance states:

"Under section 33(1) of the 2000 Act, the entitlement to mandatory early learning and childcare should be provided without the payment of fees, including where this is delivered through partner providers under a section 35 arrangement."

All Providers

Settings delivering the funded entitlement must ensure that access to the statutory hours are free at point of access to the child and no top-up fees are charged in relation to the statutory hours. The setting must ensure that:

  • Parents are not asked to make any upfront payment, or any other payment, in respect of the statutory hours, thus ensuring that funded hours are free at the point of access.
  • No top-up fees are charged to parents relating to the statutory hours.
  • Additional charges to parents relating to the statutory hours should be limited to for example, snacks, costs of outings or extracurricular activities such as music classes.

Local Authorities

In order to support all providers meet this criteria the Local Authority will:

  • comply with the Legislation which prevents local authorities from charging parents for pre-school education which they provide under the statutory duty.
  • extend this legal obligation to funded providers through partnership agreements, to ensure funded hours are free at point of access to the child.
  • set a sustainable rate for funded providers to deliver the statutory hours, including payment of the 'real' living wage.
  • continue to ensure that funded providers receive payments for the statutory hours in a prompt and efficient manner.

Criteria 9 - Food

All Providers

Early learning and childcare settings provide children with an important opportunity for maximising healthy eating and establishing healthy eating habits in the earliest years.

Through the sustainable rate for delivery of the funded hours, providers will:

  • provide each child with a free meal during their session, as appropriate [15] . This can be provided either as a breakfast, lunch or an early evening meal. This can either be prepared by the funded provider, delivered by the local authority or purchased by an external provider (directly by the funded provider).
  • provide each child with milk and/or a snack during their ELC session.

All meals and snacks must meet the most up-to-date nutritional guidance provided for ELC (currently included in 'Setting the Table').

Question 5a: Will the criteria set out in the draft National Standard:

  • ensure that high quality, accessible, flexible and affordable Early Learning Childcare is delivered in all funded provider settings?
  • Support increased choice for parents and carers?

Question 5b: Is there any criteria not included in the National Standard that is required to ensure a high quality service is provided to all children?

Question 5c: Do the proposed criteria within the National Standard seem fair and proportionate for all? Do the proposed variations for some criteria seem fair and proportionate for childminders?


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