Early Learning & Childcare

Setting a local rate for services

The Scottish Government’s flagship policy to expand Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) aims to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap, support parents into work, study or training, and improve the health and wellbeing of families. Scotland Excel can help councils deliver these benefits for their communities by setting a sustainable hourly rate for early learning and childcare providers in their area.

From August 2021, all three and four year old children in Scotland can benefit from up to 1140 hours of early learning and childcare (ELC) provision each year.  Some two year olds are also eligible for these services. 

To ensure that ELC places are available for those who need them, councils work with private and third sector providers to deliver funded places for local children in their area. ELC services include childminders, voluntary, independent schools and private nurseries. They all have different infrastructure costs, depending on the type of setting and the council area.

In 2018, the Scottish Government commissioned Scotland Excel to develop guidance to help councils and providers prepare for the expansion of ELC provision.  Based on the Funding Follows the Child approach, which provides greater choice for parents and guardians, it includes options for setting local sustainable rates.

Scotland Excel can also support councils with the implementation of the guidance and calculating a local rate.  Working with the council's service area specialists, we propose a range of calculation models with the flexibility to choose the option which best suits their requirements. 

Next, we engage with local ELC providers to get the inputs needed to run the calculation to establish a local, sustainable hourly rate including payment of the Scottish Living Wage to staff.  Involving providers in the process ensures that their requirements are considered and establishes a positive relationship with the council. 

Please note that this service is not currently available from Scotland Excel as similar support is being provided by the Improvement Service during 2022.

What are the benefits of our ELC consultancy service?

  • Establishes a local, sustainable rate for ELC services to support the implementation of government policy
  • Delivered by the organisation that created the guidance and has extensive experience of cost modelling
  • Engagement with local providers builds a positive foundation for future relationships
  • Frees up council staff time to focus on other key priorities
  • Cost effective solution delivered by professionals with an in-depth understanding of the local authority landscape

“We engaged Scotland Excel to work collaboratively with Early Learning and Childcare providers in our region to establish an hourly rate. Scotland Excel had experience of similar projects establishing rates for different types of provision, such as the National Care Home Calculator.

Scotland Excel built the trust of the providers ensuring that their inputs were kept confidential, enabling an accurate hourly rate to be calculated. Another benefit was that our resources were not diverted from daily responsibility in performing this work.

The project was managed smoothly and I would recommend Scotland Excel, should you wish to embark on such a project to establish your council area’s sustainable hourly rate for ELC provision.”

Margot Black
Early Years Manager, Children & Young People
Scottish Borders Council

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