Early years expansion to bring in funded providers

Today’s (Thursday 6 December) meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee saw councillors discussing the continued trial programme of expansion to introduce 1140 hours of funded early learning and childcare to families in Aberdeenshire by 2020.

This means that by August 2020 all three and four-year-olds, as well as eligible two-year-olds, will be able to access up to 30 hours of funded early learning and childcare during term-time, or less if spread across the year, across Scotland.

Councillors today agreed the hourly rate funded providers will be able to access for delivering 1140 in Aberdeenshire will increase to £5.31. They also agreed to make the new rate available along with the additional hours to all partner providers from April 2019. Partners, including private nurseries, childminders and playgroups will be offered the opportunity to join the programme in a similar way as they do now but with new criteria aimed at ensuring, among other things, employees are paid the Living Wage.

In August 2017 the Council embarked on a full scale implementation plan to ensure we are ready for 2020, and this marks the mid-way point. This move to bring all partners in in one go is just part of a planned roll-out across Aberdeenshire.

Councillor Gillian Owen, Chair of the Education and Children’s Services Committee commented: “Delivering choice is an important part of achieving the high quality, flexible, affordable and accessible provision we are aiming for across Aberdeenshire. With more than one third of our early years provision currently being delivered by partners, this move helps to ensure that choice is still available as we continue with the roll-out in our own settings.”

A number of school nurseries across Aberdeenshire are already acting as 1140 trial sites. They have been working to deliver the curriculum in a different way, allowing for up to a whole day of early learning experiences which can also include lunch. They have also adjusted staffing structures, are looking at how buildings can be expanded and/or improved and are finding the opportunities brought forward by 1140 are being well-received by children, parents and colleagues alike.

A number of other school nurseries will come on board with the trial this year, and gradually all will be brought in by August 2020.

Vice-Chair Councillor Mark Findlater added: “While many families would like to be able to access the additional funded hours now, it’s important to note the legal entitlement to this begins in 2020. We want the roll-out to work for both families and childcare settings so our gradual expansion programme is about enhancing choice in a way that’s manageable. This marks an important milestone in that journey.”

If you have a question about our expansion of funded early learning and childcare, email: Earlyyears1140expansion@aberdeenshire.gov.uk