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Support given to early learning and childcare sector outlined to council committee

By Kyle Ritchie

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Aberdeenshire Council’s education and children’s services committee learnt about the support given to the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector with the roll out of early learning and childcare.

A report considered by the committee said as a result of the Scottish Government’s programme to provide 1140 hours of free fully funded early learning and childcare, and an increase in demand, supporting the sustainability and quality of the sector has never been more important.

As part of the council’s strategy in achieving the 1140 hours target, a range of support was put in place to assist the PVI sector.

Examples include £1 million funding from a capital grant programme, the creation of an enhanced pay rate to support with the delivery of early learning and childcare to children with additional support needs and continued access to fully funded training and development opportunities, including the Aberdeenshire Learning and Development Online (ALDO) training platform.

Following the creation of capital grants to support the sector, there were 14 successful applications for funding which led to almost £1 million worth of investment in the PVI sector. This support has seen the creation of 240 additional places, while improving the quality of provision for children, the development of outdoor learning spaces, and the construction and redesign of premises to allow for the delivery of the 1140 extended hours.

The council is one of three local authorities in Scotland that has an enhanced hourly rate if complex and/or multiple needs are identified and assessed for a child attending a funded provider setting.

The enhanced rate ranges from £9.30 to £10.31 and is applied based on the level of need assessed. To date there have been 20 successful applications, which will allow for around £200,000 in support for additional support requirements over the current academic year.

An agreement has been reached that allows the council to enhance the level of support from the local authority in working to provide a range of training and development opportunities for the PVI sector.

The budget for training and development increased from £250,000 to £380,000 to allow for supporting the increasing workforce across the sector.

The council has responded to growing demand from the sector for more outdoor learning training by commissioning more organisations to deliver it. When greater restrictions to combat the coronavirus were in place the service delivered training to the PVI sector at funded provider nurseries.

Aberdeenshire Council’s education and children’s services committee chairwoman councillor Gillian Owen said: “I am pleased to see the support given by early years to help the private, voluntary and independent sector through what must be difficult times.

"This cooperation between the local authority, council-run settings and funded providers means children, parents and carers are those who benefit most when childcare is never more urgently needed.”

Committee vice-chairwoman councillor Rosemary Bruce said: “I would like to congratulate the early years service on the level of support they have provided the private, voluntary and independent sector.

"This assistance is bound to be of benefit to children and families across Aberdeenshire.”

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