Midlothian on track to deliver expanded early learning hours
Midlothian is on track to deliver the Scottish Government’s commitment that all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds will be offered up to 1140 hours of funded early learning by August 2020.
The 1140 hours is almost double the current entitlement of up to 600 hours.
41% benefitting a year before deadline
In a report to the full Council on Tuesday, Midlothian Council’s Director of Education, Communities and Economy, Dr Mary Smith said by August 2019, a year before the full implementation deadline, the number of children in Midlothian benefitting from the 1140 hours will be 41%.
“This is in line with the Scottish Government’s expectation that if they are on track towards successfully delivering the expansion, local authorities should have achieved 40 per cent of places as 1140 hours by August 2019.”
Paying providers more
The report also outlines plans to increase the capacity of funded providers, such as private nurseries, childminders and the third sector, to accommodate the expansion. At the full Council meeting, councillors noted the decision to raise the current hourly rate paid to funded provider settings for three and four-year-old’s places from £3.70 an hour to £4.50 an hour from August 2019. The report states the increase will “ensure the sustainability of funded provider settings during the transition to full 1140 hours”.
Changes to admissions policy
Among other measures approved was to revise the admission policy with effect from academic year 2019/20. This will mean children who turn three between March and August become entitled to an early learning and childcare place from August. Children born in the remaining months (with the exception of November, who start in January) will become entitled from the month following their birthday. This new policy will continue to ensure that parents receive their statutory entitlement to early learning and childcare hours, while also assisting with the implementation of the expansion to 1140 hours.
Outdoor learning spaces
Councillors also noted progress on the council’s plans to introduce its first outdoor early learning facilities. One is planned for Vogrie Country Park and options are being explored for a second site.