The Highland Council is updating parents and carers of its position on early learning and childcare (ELC).
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Scottish Government removed the statutory requirement for Local Authorities to deliver 1140 hours of ELC from August.
Local Authorities were advised to use the ELC funding flexibly to respond to Covid-19 and that this response should also inform decisions regarding the final phase of the local delivery plan of the expansion of 1140hrs of ELC.
Cllr John Finlayson, Chair of the Council’s Education Committee said: “The Highland Council is committed to continuing to fund settings that were delivering 600 or 1140 hours of ELC before lockdown and hopefully this continuity of service will support families in their planning. Highland Council recognises the importance of continuing to expand the provision of Early Learning and Childcare and future decisions will be informed by further guidance received from the Scottish Government.”
Paul Senior, Executive Chief Officer Education and Learning explained: “For those ELC settings which were due to move to 1140 hours in August, as part of the final phase of the Council’s delivery plan, this transition will be put on hold temporarily.
When the Scottish Government releases the revised date for the statutory requirement to deliver 1140 hours of ELC, a decision will be made as to whether the final phase will be incremental or planned to the required date.
Prior to Covid-19 the Council had made positive steps towards delivering 1140 in August and so an incremental final phase is possible.”
Chair of the Recovery Board, Depute Leader Alasdair Christie added: “We know fully just how important and beneficial this service is in supporting families and providing learning experiences for children. The Education Service is keen to continue with the final phase of ELC expansion at the earliest opportunity, as this will enable the whole Highlands region to move towards recovery both economically and from an education perspective.”