Scotland

Campaigners say half-day nursery places are 'not wanted'

Children playing
Image caption 48% of all nursery places are half-days only

A campaign group says the way funded childcare is delivered in Scotland does still not help the majority of working parents.

Local authorities must provide 600 hours of early learning and childcare a year, with that figure due to increase to 1,140 hours by 2020.

The Fairer Funding For Our Kids report found 68% of council-run nursery places were half-days.

The Scottish government insisted choice was increasing across the country.

The body submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 32 local authorities in Scotland, with all but five responding.

Figures from East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, South Lanarkshire, and West Dunbartonshire are not included in the statistics.

The report found that;

  • 48% of all nursery places were half-days only
  • less than 3% were for full days all year round.
  • 16% of places in 2017/18 were for full days in term time only, which was a rise of 3% on the year before
  • and it also claimed that partnership places in private nurseries were being underfunded in "most areas".
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption 48% of all nursery places are for half days

A campaign spokesman said: "Early years care is so important, but working parents continue to miss out.

"Very few people have bosses who are prepared to let them work for less than three hours a day, and many don't have grandparents who can fill gaps in childcare.

"We need much faster progress in eliminating half-day places, except where parents specifically request them."

The study claimed that local authorities in Scotland are underfunding partnership places in private nurseries by up to £461 per child a year, with 21 of Scotland's local authorities offering an hourly rate below the national average cost of £4.03 an hour.

The report said more funded places were being offered in private nurseries. The figures showed more than two-thirds of places in 2017/18 were in council-run facilities, which is a drop from around three-quarters of places in 2016.


Who are Fairer Funding For Our Kids?

  • The group was formed in 2014.
  • It says it brings together everyone "concerned that 3 to 5 year-olds are not able to access their entitlement to a free nursery place"
  • Its supporters include working parents, stay at home parents, and nursery providers.
  • It has given evidence to the Scottish Parliament on early years education
  • It has asked for childcare funding to be ring fenced and for a 10 year national strategy to be established

Cosla - the body which represents councils in Scotland - claims the information used to compile the report is "historical".

A spokesperson told BBC Scotland: "Cosla and the Scottish Government are working together, not only on the expansion to 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare, but also to maintaining a high quality provision for our youngest children as we prepare for the expansion.

"Cosla are clear that our priority is quality of provision for the funded entitlement as we make children's outcomes our focus for the expansion programme."

The Scottish government said early learning and childcare flexibility and choice is increasing across the country.

A spokesperson said: "More local authority settings are providing funded early learning and childcare entitlement out with school hours, as well as enabling families to access their child's entitlement from other providers who already offer extended opening hours. This will further increase as we almost double the funded entitlement to 1,140 hours from August 2020.

"This enhanced offer will improve outcomes for children and contribute to our goal of closing the poverty related attainment gap. It will be delivered through a new Funding Follows the Child approach, which will allow children to access high quality early learning and childcare at any setting that meets a new national standard and has a place available."

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