Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) update

At yesterday's (6 August) meeting of the Education Committee, Members were updated on the Council’s provision of ELC, as part of the return of school and ELC settings.

At the previous meeting (2 July), a report on ELC was presented with national updates, including the removal of the statutory duty for Local Authorities to provide 1140 hours from August 2020. Members heard that due to wider impact and implications for ELC arising from Covid-19, plans on the further expansion of ELC settings to provide 1140 hours were paused, subject to further clarity from the Government on the Council’s statutory duty.

The Government has since issued a letter reaffirming that this duty is still removed, therefore, the final phase of our delivery plan to provide 1140 hours for the remaining settings in August, remains paused.

Current focus is on the re-opening of Schools and ELC settings, from August onwards.

Since the date of the last committee, we have received further clarity on how ELC settings can operate as part of their reopening. 

Three of the most recent developments are:

  • Children are no longer required to remain in small groups of 8
  • There is to be an ease on the current restrictions regarding blended placements.
  • And both breakfast clubs and out of school care can operate under revised Scottish Government guidance 

On receiving this clarity, Chair of Education Committee, Councillor John Finlayson, said: “We welcome these changes from the Government as they will have a positive impact in our ability to deliver Early Learning and Childcare in all of Highland’s settings. The easing of these restrictions will allow parents and carers more flexibility to balance home and working life. 

The safety of our staff, children and young people remains a priority, and we will continue to be directed by national guidance”.

7 Aug 2020