Schools, early learning and children

Early Learning and childcare 1140 hours update (25 June)

The Scottish Government have postponed the expansion to 1140 funded hours of early learning and childcare. This is because of the need to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children and the adults who work with them, and the delays to building projects that were going to add capacity.

Guidance on reopening in phase 3

On 15 June the Scottish Government published guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services in phase 3. The coronavirus infection control measures set out in this guidance significantly reduce the number of children that settings can care for and mean that we will not have enough capacity to offer 1140 hours for all children from August. In addition, the infection control measures will increase the cost of delivering childcare from August, and the council has been funding critical childcare for key workers and vulnerable children.

Settings could reopen on 15 July 

The Deputy First Minister and First Minister made statements on 23 and 24 June on the reopening of schools and childcare and updating Scotland’s routemap through and out of the crisis. The updated routemap sets out that childcare settings may reopen from 15 July (date subject to confirmation). Following these statements the Scottish Government confirmed that no changes have been made to the guidance issued on 15 June.

At least 600 hours to all eligible children

The legislative duty upon the council to offer 600 hours of funded early learning and childcare remains and we will endeavour to ensure that we meet this duty. Based on current Scottish Government guidance, we will be able to offer at least to 600 hours to all eligible children.

Maximising the number of funded hours

We are working in partnership with our local authority settings, childminders and private and voluntary sector providers to maximise the number of funded hours that we can offer during 2020/21. If the Scottish Government revises the guidance following further scientific advice we will revise our plans accordingly. The council and providers are also working to restart building projects to deliver additional capacity which were put on hold due to the lockdown.

Committed to implementing the increase when safe to do so

Midlothian Council is committed to implementing the increase as soon as it is safe to do so. We will offer as many hours as we are able to, safely, and within the capacity and funding remaining available to us following the costs resulting from the pandemic, until we reach full implementation.