The Care Inspectorate has today published its annual report on early learning and childcare provision in Scotland.
The figures show how, where and to whom early learning and childcare is provided. The report looks at both childminders operating in their own home, and day care services including nurseries, playgroups, out of school care and holiday play schemes.
Today’s report shows:
Since 2010 the number of children registered and attending early learning and childcare services has been steadily increasing. The proportion of children attending a service increased more in daycare of children services rather than in childminding services. This suggests the increase may be a reflection of increase in free early learning and childcare provision for all three and four year-olds and eligible two year-olds, which came into effect in 2014. Provision has been raised to an entitlement of up to 600 hours, an increase from 475 hours.
The number of children attending early learning and childcare services and the size of these services has increased, although the overall number of services has decreased. As of November 2014, 229,840 children (25.2% of population aged 0-15 years old) attended registered early learning and childcare services in Scotland, an increase from the 223,980 (24.5% of population aged 0-15 years old) attending in the previous year.
The number of children attending childminding services has increased from 31,720 (3.5% of the 0-15 years population) in 2013 to 32,500 (3.6% of the 0-15 years population) in 2014. The same pattern is seen in daycare of children services with the number of children attending services increasing from 192,270 in 2013 to 197,340 in 2014 (21.0% to 21.7%.of the 0-15 years population).
The average number of children attending per early learning and childcare service in Scotland increased from 23.7 to 24.7 between 2013 and 2014. Children attending per childminding service increased from 5.6 to 5.8 and children attending daycare services increased from 51.1 to 52.9 over the year.
The quality of care and support in services for young children in Scotland is high: 95% of services are judged to be good, very good or excellent. Fewer than 1% of early learning and childcare services were judged to be unsatisfactory or weak, with the remaining considered to be adequate.
The report also shows that when deprivation is considered, some differences in attendance between areas exist.
Proportionately, more children in the least deprived areas attend childminders (4.6%) and out of school care (8%) than those in the most deprived areas where the figures are 1% and 2.7% respectively. Conversely, children in more deprived areas are more likely to use a children / family centre (3.2%) than those in the least deprived (0.4%), usually provided by the local authority. In the most deprived areas, 13.1% of children use a nursery, and 14.9% of children in the least deprived areas do so.
This figures suggest that local authorities play an important role in addressing inequality and helping close the outcome gap.
There are differences in the pattern of registrations of daycare of children service providers in the most and least deprived areas of Scotland: 49.0% of daycare of children services in the most deprived areas are run by the local authority sector, 28.0% by the voluntary and 23.1% by the private sector compared to least deprived areas where 45.0% of daycare of children services are run by the private sector, 28.4% by the voluntary and 26.6% by local authority sectors.
No statistically significant differences in the grading pattern in daycare of children services was observed between the most deprived and least deprived areas suggesting that the quality of care is similar across areas. Differences in grading pattern was seen in childminding services where 30.6% of services in the most deprived areas had all grades of very good and excellent compared to 56.9% in the least deprived areas.
The Care Inspectorate completed 606 complaint investigations about early learning and childcare services. Most of these were about daycare of children services – 71%- and 29% about childminding services.
In daycare of children services we completed 53.9 complaints per 1,000 services, a decrease from 54.1 per 1,000 services in 2014 . In childminding services we completed 15.4 complaints per 1,000 services, an increase from 12.4 per 1,000 services in 2014.
Karen Reid, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “These statistics give us an important overview of early learning and childcare in Scotland.
“Early learning and childcare plays a crucial role in supporting children to get the best start in life.
“The Care Inspectorate’s job is to ensure that every child in Scotland has access to high quality care which meets their needs and respects their rights.
“These figures show that although the total number of childcare services has reduced slightly, the number of children attending them has increased.
“We see examples of high-quality early learning and childcare services across the local authority, voluntary and private sectors in all parts of Scotland, with many services operating at the very highest levels of quality.
“We inspect every early learning and childcare service in Scotland, with all inspection reports are available on our website www.careinspectorate.com.”