SCMA Chief Executive Response; Audit Scotland Early Learning and Childcare Report

SCMA Chief Executive Response; Audit Scotland Early Learning and Childcare Report

SCMA Chief Executive, Graeme McAlister has responded to an Audit Scotland report published today, which highlights that plans to boost Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) hours have made steady progress but risks around buildings and staffing remain.  

Graeme McAlister, SCMA Chief Executive, said:  “Today’s report by Audit Scotland highlights the real pressures and risks which remain in the childminding workforce in Scotland. 

"The childminding workforce in Scotland has continued to decline in parallel to the expansion of the local authority Early Learning and Childcare workforce. In response to this data and our concerns, we are pleased that the Scottish Government has recently agreed to fund vital research into the declining trends within the childminding workforce to be undertaken jointly by the Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate and SCMA. This will then enable us to take action to strengthen recruitment and retention within the workforce.

“Nationally, the level of childminder inclusion in delivering ELC remains too low. This is starting to improve a little as a result of our working with local authorities to change this, to provide more childminders with the opportunity to participate in delivering funded hours and to support parental choice. However, the message is simple - where a childminder meets the criteria and is willing to enter into a contract with a local authority to deliver funded hours they should be able to do so and parents have the right to expect this."

The Scottish Government's evaluation plans for the expansion are well advanced but challenges remain. For example, it is not clear how the longer-term economic benefits of the policy, or its impact on family wellbeing, will be measured. 

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said: "The Scottish Government and councils have worked well together to increase early learning and childcare hours, and we've also seen improvements in how the project will be evaluated. But the timeline remains tight and there are big risks around infrastructure and workforce."