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Quality childcare 'boosts school attainment'

Analysis paper published 100 days before expansion in funded pre-school childcare.

High-quality nursery education helps improve performance at school at all ages, a Scottish Government research paper highlighted recently.

In 100 days families will start to benefit from an increase in the amount of funded early learning and childcare available for three and four-year-olds in Scotland – rising from 12.5 hours per week to almost 16 hours.

The same entitlement will, for the first time, be extended to over a quarter (27 per cent) of two-year-olds over the next two years – with those from workless or job-seeking households being among the first to benefit from expanded provision, starting from August 12.

Ministers have also set out in ‘Scotland’s Future’ how they would use the powers of independence to transform provision through a universal system of pre-school childcare.

The recent paper – drawing on the findings of three major studies, which are supported by other research work – highlights evidence that:

• Pre-school experience enhances all-round development in children – and may particularly benefit disadvantaged children – with improved cognitive development, sociability and concentration when starting primary school.

• The positive effect of attending higher quality pre-school settings on children’s subsequent outcomes in reading and mathematics is evident at age 10, even accounting for the influence of background factors.

• The benefits of early education and childcare can persist into secondary school – with European research showing that, in most countries, pupils at age 15 who attended pre-school education programmes tend to perform better than those who have not.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell said:

“By improving access to affordable, high-quality early learning and childcare we will deliver many benefits for Scotland, not least – as this research paper highlights – boosting children’s performance all the way through to secondary school. That’s why we’re investing in a skilled workforce and working with local authorities and partner providers to ensure that quality remains at the heart of our plans.

“In 100 days, with investment of more than a quarter of a billion pounds over two years, we will take further steps towards our ambition to transform early learning and childcare. By doing so in a well-managed, phased and sustainable way, we will support children and families both in their immediate circumstances and for their longer-term aspirations.

“With a 45 per cent increase in funded pre-school entitlement since 2007, backed by our investment in the workforce, an independent review of future skills and capacity, and capital investment of £91 million over the next two years, we are using the resources available to us now to build the foundations for the transformational change in early learning and childcare that we can deliver with the powers and resources of independence.”

Commenting on the paper, Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, said:

“This paper is a helpful summary of both the national and international evidence which underpins Children in Scotland's belief that good quality pre-school care and learning makes a significant contribution to a child's development. This demonstrates, undeniably, that quality early education and care has advantages for every child but is especially important as one measure to eliminate Scotland's inequalities in educational attainment.”

Early Years Taskforce member and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, added:

"With 100 days to go until the expansion of nursery education this sound research is a reminder to parents about the real value of early education. It shows that nursery education, especially before the age of three, has long term benefits right through school. As a liberal I know that investing in education, especially early education, can change lives and give great opportunities for people to get on in the world. This new research will give a further boost to our efforts for all. I would urge every two year old eligible for the new entitlement of over fifteen hours a week of nursery education be registered so they can take full advantage of the real benefits."

Notes To Editors

The paper can be read here: .

The three key evidence sources which form the basis of the paper are: the Growing UP in Scotland (GUS) long-term research project; the Effective Provision of Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPE/EPPSE) study; and the three-yearly Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) international survey of education systems.

The start of the school/nursery year varies between local authorities; the earliest start date is due to be in Tuesday August 12 – 100 days from today, Sunday May 4.

The Scottish Government is investing £280 million over the next two years to increase the annual funded early learning and childcare entitlement for parents of three- and four-year-olds from 475 hours to 600 hours – a rise of 45 per cent from the 412.5 hours in place in 2007 which is worth up to £707 per child, per year. The changes will see free provision increase from 12.5 hours to almost 16 hours a week from August – with this entitlement extended to the most vulnerable 27 per cent of two-year-olds over two years, starting first with those who are 'looked after', under a Kinship Care Order or with a parent-appointed guardian and those who live in workless or job-seeking households.

The £280 million of support includes providing local authorities with £91 million capital funding over two years to help develop new/enhanced nursery and associated childcare facilities. In addition, we are investing £4 million to strengthen workforce capacity and skills – alongside an expert review by Professor Iram Siraj.

In 'Scotland's Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland', Ministers have outlined their ambition to use the budgetary and economic choices available with independence to transform childcare, moving to a universal system of pre-school provision from age one.


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