In Scotland, all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds are entitled to 600 hours per year of funded Early Learning and Childcare ( ELC) provision.
The Scottish Government is committed to increasing the funded ELC entitlement to 1,140 hours per year by 2020.
It is widely acknowledged, including by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development ( OECD) and the EU, that the provision of universally accessible and high quality ELC enriches children with skills and confidence to carry into their schooling, and to help support work to close the poverty-related attainment gap between Scotland's most and least deprived children.
Increased flexibility in how the funded entitlement is delivered can also support more parents to work, train, or study.
Therefore, the proximity of ELC provision to places of work or study can be important for some parents and carers. The Children and Families Directorate of the Scottish Government commissioned a scoping study to better understand the extent of on-site ELC provision, and the interactions with wider ELC provision, within Higher and Further Education estates and large public sector employers in Scotland.
The aim of the scoping study was to provide an assessment of the level and characteristics of on-site ELC provision across Further and Higher Education estates and large public sector employers, with the original objectives including an analysis of:
- The total number and percentage of settings in each of these sectors with on-site ELC provision, no on-site provision but alternative arrangements, no on-site provision or alternative arrangements, for example through links with private or third sector providers or childminders.
- For those with on-site provision, further information including the nature of the provision, the amount of entitlement offered, opening hours, capacity and uptake / number of registrations, fees charged, provision for children with additional support needs, access to outdoor learning space, whether they cover irregular working patterns / hours.
- Additional breakdowns of ELC offering by local authority, SIMD deciles, urban / rural classification, funded / non-funded provision.
- To analyse NHS settings as a subset of large public sector employers.
- To identify case studies and conduct telephone interviews to gather in-depth qualitative data on what alternative arrangements are made for parents / carers where there is no on-site provision.
- Identification of factors that contribute to the provision of on-site ELC and the drivers and barriers to supporting and sustaining on-site ELC provision.
- What lessons there may be for other sectors in supporting on-site ELC, for example if the investment is regarded as influential on competitive appeal.
However, during the course of the study it became apparent that the low number of settings with any on-site ELC provision limited the potential for any detailed quantitative analysis to be produced. Therefore, a more qualitative approach was undertaken.
The brief for the project defined large public sector employers as those sites with over 500 staff. The sample for the project was compiled using information from the Scottish Government's National Public Bodies Directory, with some additional large public sector employers including two large local authorities, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament, along with all colleges and universities in Scotland. In addition, 43 separate NHS sites were included.
The following table shows the number of bodies in the initial sample:
|Type of body||Number|
|Individual NHS hospital sites||43|
|Other Significant National Bodies||3|
|Scottish Government / Scottish Parliament||2|
|Other large public bodies||2|