Expanding early learning and childcare

The Scottish Government is committed to expanding the provision of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) from 600 hours to 1140 hours per year by 2020. Currently, all three and four-year olds, and eligible two-year olds, receive 600 hours of funded ELC per year. Under the new plans, this will almost double by August 2020.

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 2020. We are adopting a phased approach to the implementation of the increased hours. In the first phase, we are prioritising our three Priority Areas: Northfield, Tullos/Torry and Tillydrone/Seaton. The second phase encompasses expansion across further areas with low SIMD and/or where provision is not geographically well placed. Phase 3 is looking at our remaining localities. While many families would like to access the additional hours now, the legal entitlement starts in August 2020. A phased approach will ensure provision continues to be of high quality and that the roll out works for both families and early learning childcare settings.

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.

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. With just over one year to go we will continue to engage with parents, carers and potential future parents to ensure we are providing a service that best meets the needs of families in Aberdeen. We will be launching an online survey over summer 2019 and conducting a series of focus group meetings and parent information sessions from September 2019 onwards.

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.

Celebrating ELC Awards

Nominations are now open for the Early Learning and Childcare Academy's Celebrating ELC Awards, recognising and valuing practice across the ELC sector in the north east.

The Celebrating ELC Awards programme aims to encourage improvements and celebrate our achievements.

All ELC settings in Aberdeen City are invited to apply. There are four categories:

  • Team
  • Working in partnership
  • Indoor environment
  • Outdoor environment

See more information about the awards.

Entries open on 9 September 2019 and close on 4 October 2019.

Contact details

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


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