New First Minister elected and Education appointments made
Scottish National Party members elected MP for Glasgow Pollok, Humza Yousaf, as their new leader, who was officially sworn in as First Minister last week (29 March).
During his campaign to become First Minister, Mr Yousaf suggested he would pursue an expansion of the current childcare offer.
NDNA Scotland’s Chief Executive Purnima Tanuku OBE responded to the appointment saying: “The Scottish Government has implemented an ambitious expansion of funded hours for all three- and four-year-old children across Scotland. The next stage of the plans are to expand this even further to one and two year olds.
“However, the Early Learning and Childcare sector is facing a number of challenges. They are experiencing a workforce crisis around recruitment and retention of staff, competing with local authority settings and other sectors. At the same time they are facing spiraling costs with inflation and Real Living Wage rates with the hourly funding ‘sustainable rates’ failing to keep pace.
“The new SNP leader, Mr Yousaf, and his team needs to get to grips with the challenges with the current policy and do all they can to continue to support positive outcomes for our children and families.
“In his first speech and during the campaign, Mr Yousaf promised to accelerate the expansion of the funded childcare. We urge him to work with the sector to fix the current problems before rushing into further expansion.
“If this policy is not thoroughly planned and properly funded it risks doing further damage to the ELC sector and threaten the sustainability of settings, undermine efforts to deliver high-quality provision and risks places for working families.”
As well as setting out his priorities for his tenue, in one of his first acts, the First Minister unveiled his new cabinet appointments, which included a new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth, MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes.
Purnima responded, saying: “We warmly welcome the new minister Natalie Don to the Scottish Government and look forward to working with her, particularly on addressing the challenges parents and providers are facing with the cost of living and the Scottish Government’s expansion plans for funded early learning and childcare.
“The new Minister will have a lot in her in-tray on the back of the First Minister’s pledges to make their expansion plans a political priority. Providers in the private and voluntary sector are struggling with rising costs and the current rates do not cover these. These challenges must be addressed before further expansion can be rolled out.
“Children must be at the centre as these plans are delivered, which means funding truly following the child. Private nurseries also struggle with the pressures of recruiting and retaining staff while competing with better wages in the public sector. We need the Minister to review the impact of the disparity of funding on the workforce and efforts to maintain high quality of provision in our sector.
“The new Minister also needs to look to the brilliant practice that is already delivered by the private and voluntary sector for children under three. Any expansion plans which undermine existing, good quality nurseries and are not adequately backed with sufficient investment could do more harm than good.”
- First Minister
- Humza Yousaf
- Jenny Gilruth
- Natalie Don