SCMA to provide oral evidence in the Scottish Parliament today

SCMA to provide oral evidence in the Scottish Parliament today
This morning, SCMA’s Chief Executive Graeme McAlister will be going on record and representing childminding in Scotland as he provides oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament Education, Children and Young People Committee: Implementation of 1140 hours funded Early Learning and Childcare policy. 

A detailed and evidence-based paper has been written and submitted in advance to pre-brief Committee Members. The paper forms the basis of the oral evidence that will be given today.
Summary of Evidence
SCMA is supportive of ELC policy, it’s intent to close the attainment gap and to provide free childcare to families, particularly on low incomes. However, we have major concerns about the manner in which ELC policy has been implemented.

The childminding workforce has declined by 26% (1457 childminders) in the last 5 years during the implementation of 1140 by 2020. It was hoped that the expansion of ELC would increase choice for parents; instead, its implementation has largely failed childminding and is decreasing choice with shortages of childminders being experienced around the country, particularly in remote and rural areas. 

This not only has implications for parental choice and the delivery of funded ELC, but also the delivery of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government commitments to extend ELC to one year-olds and all two year-olds, and to develop a new system of wraparound school-aged childcare (areas of childcare in which childminders play a vital role). 

These commitments and the Scottish Government’s wider, but inter-connected, policy agendas on Education Reform and the National Care Service also present additional potential risks to the sustainability of childminding in Scotland if these were to add further to the levels of bureaucracy and paperwork already created by ELC expansion. 

SCMA is once again calling for an urgent step change to address these issues and the recommendations of our ELC Audit 2021 will be cited, including the following three key areas: 

  • Ensuring provider neutrality: all 32 local authorities should be required to evidence annually their equitable inclusion and promotion of childminders and other childcare providers alongside their own provision (nurseries). This is essential for ensuring parental choice.
  • Reducing bureaucracy and paperwork: urgent, and immediate, action is required by the Scottish Government to reduce the unsustainable levels of bureaucracy and paperwork associated with ELC expansion which has disproportionately affected childminders as sole workers and played a significant role in the reduction of the childminding workforce. Scottish Government should work with SCMA, the Care Inspectorate, Association of Directors of Education and COSLA in reducing the duplicative quality assurance systems, nationally and locally, with a view to streamlining, increasing consistency, standardising data capture and reporting which reflects childminder settings.
  • Childminder recruitment: shortages of childminders are being experienced around Scotland. SCMA has been leading nationally on work to recruit new childminders in areas where there are no or not enough childminders and they are needed. There is a pressing need to extend our current childminder recruitment pilot in remote and rural areas nationally to recruit more childminders in areas where there is demand for childminding and more childminders are needed.
This is only a brief outline and we would encourage you to read the full submission paper to get a greater understanding of the compelling, evidence-based submission that we are putting forward on behalf of all childminders in Scotland. 

Other witnesses who will be giving evidence alongside Graeme will be: 
  • Matthew Sweeney, Policy Manager, COSLA
  • Jonathan Broadbery, Head of Policy and Communications, National Day Nurseries Association;
  • Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive of Early Years Scotland; and
  • Adam Hall, Programme Manager – Recovery & Delivery Programme, Improvement Service.
WATCH | You can watch a recording of the Scottish Parliament Education, Children and Young People Committee (Wednesday 25 May) in full HERE (session begins at 9.30 on the timer).