The number of children in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) in Scotland has increased to more than 290,000.
A report by the Care Inspectorate, published earlier this week, showed the number of children accessing ELC increased from 254,770 in 2014 to 291,460 in 2016.
A the same time, the report shows that overall during the period of the review, the quality of ELC settings is good and improving.
The Care Inspectorate’s review of settings for ELC covering the period 2014 to 2017 found: “In general, children and families are experiencing a high quality of care and support across Scotland.
“The settings in which they spend their time are well planned and meet their care and learning needs. This is supported by staff who are well trained and motivated to offer warm and compassionate care which enhances children’s development.”
However, the report also notes: “The number of fully qualified managers in early learning and childcare has decreased over the period of the review and while these managers are currently working towards the appropriate qualification required, we can see that the number of settings achieving an evaluation of ‘Good’ or above for the quality of management and leadership has decreased slightly.”
Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “The period of this review has seen a significant level of change in the policy context of early learning and childcare as well as the legislation which guides our direction in Scotland.
“The passage of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 through Scottish Government began the process of expanding early learning and childcare, first to 600 hours a year and up to 1140 hours by 2020. This expansion has permeated the work of early learning and childcare settings as well as how we approach our work as an organisation.
“The workforce has had to adapt and change to a wide range of initiatives and have still maintained a high quality of care throughout.
“Throughout this expansion, the Care Inspectorate has supported improvement across the sector, producing guidance to help services share and spread good practice as well as undertaking a vast number of scrutiny and assurance work to support services’ ongoing improvement journeys.
“Care Inspectorate inspection, registration and complaints colleagues have worked hard to engage with providers, settings, children and families over the last three years and are committed to ensuring children get the best start in life.
“People consistently tell us that they appreciate the advice and guidance our inspectors and other colleagues in the organisation provide and we can be proud of the impact we have had on improving services throughout the country.
“This review comes at a time when the Care Inspectorate is working with providers to signpost and support innovative practice across the early learning and childcare sectors.
“Through our resources like My World Outdoors, which supports outdoor experiences for children, and Food Matters, which looks at good practice around encouraging positive experiences with food, we are encouraging care providers to think creatively about how they can deliver positive experiences for children and young people, often simply by being open to new ideas and ways of working.”
Download the review here
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