Expanding early learning and childcare

Aberdeen City Council ELC Expansion

Aberdeen City Council is committed to expanding the provision of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) from 600 hours to 1140 hours per year from 2021. Currently, all three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds, are entitled to 600 hours of funded ELC per year. Under the new plans, this will almost double by August 2021.  

The Scottish Government has reinstated the statutory duty on local authorities to deliver 1140 hours from August 2021. Due to the negative impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions on the ELC expansion programme, the duty to deliver 1140 hours for August 2020 was suspended. It has now been reinstated for August 2021.  

ELC can make a significant positive contribution to a child’s development. The expansion of ELC can reduce the poverty-related attainment gap and improve long term outcomes for children and families. We believe that all children should have the best possible start to life so they can grow into healthy, happy and confident adults. The guiding principles that underpin ELC expansion are:

  • Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Affordability
  • Accessibility

The vision for ELC in Aberdeen

This is an exciting time for ELC in Aberdeen. The expansion will support child development through the provision of high-quality services and will support parents to return to work or study. We plan to provide local, flexible early learning and childcare, which is accessible, affordable and of high quality. We want to provide parents and carers with a choice of services and offers that will best meet the needs of their child and their family. Each local offer will be designed around the needs of families in each locality.

The 1140 hours entitlement of funded ELC will be available from August 2021. 

For session 2020/2021 funded providers in partnership with Aberdeen City Council have been able to offer up to 1140 hours of funded ELC – subject to Covid-19 restrictions and public health guidance. Funded providers are private nurseries, playgroups and registered childminders, who are in partnership with the local authority to deliver the expanded funded hours. 

To find a funded provider please go to the  Family Information Service. 

I am ready 2021 ELC Nursery video

As part of Aberdeen City Council’s ELC Expansion programme, we are investing in our learning estate. The provision of 1140 necessitates changes to some of our current nursery environments to ensure they are fit for purpose to deliver additional hours as well as the establishment of new facilities. The programme seeks to create high quality and impactful learning environments. 

Flexibility and choice

Parents will have the choice to apply for the additional hours, up to the 1140 hours per year. There is no legal requirement nor expectation for parents or carers to take up their full entitlement. We want families to chose what works best for them.

Therefore, we are looking at range of flexible models in each locality:

  • Full day provision
  • Half day provision – morning or afternoon
  • Blended provision – a combination of local authority and funded provider / childminder provision

School settings and partner providers, including private nursery settings and childminders (when in partnership), will be offering the additional hours. Continued partnership working is important. A significant number of children use partner providers and we would like to make sure additional hours can continued to be used in a range of settings.

The Family Information Service can provide details on all ELC options available in the city.

Outdoor Nurseries

As part of Aberdeen City Council’s ELC expansion we are investing in outdoor learning and will be opening nurseries at Duthie Park and Hazlehead Park.  Both will have an outdoor focus in their education and provision, but each will offer unique and varied experiences for children, families, staff and wider communities. 

More information please see our information poster on the benefits of choosing an outdoor nursery for your child:

For an insight into the world of an outdoor nursery through the eyes and experiences of children and families, please see the video links below: 

Outdoor ELC for children; what do children think of their outdoor nursery? 
Outdoor ELC for parents; why do parents choose an outdoor nursery experience for their child?

Eligible 2 Early learning and childcare

Is your child 2 years old? If so, you could get 600 hours a year of free Early Learning and Childcare with 'Eligible 2'.

Find out more: Early Learning and Childcare Eligible 2 Application process.

Working with families

We will continue to seek parents’ views to help us shape the delivery of expansion. In 2016 and 2017 we consulted with parents and carers. We launched an online survey over summer 2019 and held  a series of focus group meetings and parent information sessions from November 2019 to February 2020.  The views from parents, carers and potential future parents have helped shape our ELC expansion offer to ensure we are providing a service that best meets the needs of families in Aberdeen.  

ELC Academy

Early Learning and Childcare Practitioners are responsible for giving our children the best start to life – they nurture and enhance creativity to help shape young lives. The ELC Academy is supporting recruitment into ELC. The expansion of ELC gives more flexible routes into the sector as a progressive career option. See the ELC Academy website for more information.

Contact details

If you have any enquiries related to Early Learning and Childcare Expansion, please email elcexpansion@aberdeencity.gov.uk

Did you find what you were looking for?

Status message

Please note, this form is anonymous, we can't reply directly to your feedback. If you would like to report an issue, make a complaint or suggestion, please Contact Us.