As 1140hrs implementation progresses, the legislative framework is catching up with the policy which is already being brought to life in different ways across Scotland.
The Scottish Parliament has now approved two pieces of secondary legislation to support the ELC expansion programme:
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (no.1) Order 2019.
This order removes the minimum session length for funded ELC (currently 2.5 hours) and increases the maximum session to 10 hours or less (currently ‘less than 8 hours’) so funded ELC can be delivered in a whole day session (e.g. 08:00-18:00). The changes to session length is designed to support the Government’s efforts to improve flexibility of access to affordable ELC and support parents who are in work, training or further study. Of course, that doesn’t mean that longer sessions can be expected by parents in all settings (nor that they will be practical with existing staffing arrangements, contracts and buildings arrangements). The Government has made clear that the change to the minimum framework do not place an obligation on ELC settings to provide the maximum 10-hour sessions where these are not already offered.
This legislative order came into force in August 2019 and will enable local authorities to provide more flexibility on session lengths and to test new delivery models during the phasing period and in preparation for full implementation of 1140 hours.
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (no.2) Order 2019.
Despite the phased implementation of the 1140hrs policy there is currently no obligation in law to provide more than 600hrs of ELC. This order will formally change in legislation the amount of funded ELC children are entitled to from 600 hours to 1140 hours. Although the legislation has been passed by the Scottish Parliament it will not take effect until the start of the coming school year – in August 2020.
The Government says that the purpose of this change is to provide the necessary legislative basis to underpin the work local authorities are already doing to deliver the expanded ELC offer from August 2020. Of course, that isn’t entirely accurate in the sense that it is always possible for local authorities to decide to go beyond statutory minimum requirements such as the 600hrs. Rather, this is about compelling local authorities to deliver the extended hours rather than using the resources allocated to support other services.
Statutory Guidance Refresh Scottish Government officials are working on a review and refresh of the Statutory Guidance on ELC which was first published in 2014. Five years is a long time in an area where the policy has changed so much as well as new legislation being passed to support that policy so it is necessary to review the guidance to incorporate policy changes and clarifications as well as to reflect the new context of delivering the full expanded entitlement from August 2020.
There will be opportunities to engage with the revised draft guidance before it is formalised as new statutory guidance. Government officials will pull together a short life working group to support the development of the updated guidance. AHDS expects to be part of that group and also to provide members with opportunities to engage directly with officials as the revised draft emerges.
The draft Statutory Guidance will be subject to a public consultation later this year…the current plan is that the consultation should be released in autumn which could mean any time up until November...
We will keep members up to date with any further developments.