The Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced proposals to extend free early learning and childcare (ELC), close the poverty-related attainment gap, and help parents who want to return to work.
Rosemary Bruce, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Aberdeenshire West and the North East region, said “early years of education are some of the most important and formative in a child’s life” and warned that the next Scottish Parliament “must make sure that we get this right.”
In 2014, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Save the Children succeeded in persuading the Scottish Government to offer free early years provision for 2-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The early years of education are some of the most important and formative in a child’s life, we must make sure that we get this right.
“Extending childcare to all two-year-olds will boost uptake, help close the poverty-related attainment gap and help parents who want to return to work.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first with a needle-sharp focus on education and a big liberal offer for early learning and childcare."
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie added:
"I want to put recovery first to close the attainment gap and help children bounce back from the disruption to their learning.
"Thanks to the Scottish Liberal Democrats two-year-olds from poorer backgrounds are already entitled to funded childcare, helping improve their chances. We must go further.”
Notes to editors:
The party's manifesto includes plans to:
- Increase the 1140 hours entitlement to cover all 2-year-olds
- Expand nursery education to meet the existing promise of hours for 3 and 4-year-olds and to add the flexibility and choice parents were told to expect
- Introduce an ambition to extend funded childcare to 1-year-olds.
- Remove for August the £4,500 ELC price tag hanging over families considering deferring Primary 1.
- Encourage parents to study and learn new skills by extending childcare for students to cover periods of independent study and vocational placements.
A 2019 Save the Children report on uptake of funded childcare for two year olds in Scotland is available here. It showed only a third of eligible families taking up their entitlement.
Details of take-up in England at that time can be found here and here. The research report for the Department of Education showed the figures for England, where uptake was as high as 83% in the North West region.