Report into expansion shows importance of PVI sector in Scotland
The Scottish Government has published its research mapping for early learning and childcare (ELC) places for one and two-year-olds which shows how vital the private and voluntary sector is for our youngest children.
The mapping showed that the private, voluntary and independent sector (PVI) delivered 61% of one-year-old places and 67% of two-year-old places in total across the country. This compares with local authority provision delivering 5% of places for one-year-olds and 29% of two-year-old places.
Out of 29 local authorities involved, 19 said that they had gaps in their provision for one and two-year-olds and these gaps were more pronounced in rural and island areas. The main reasons for these gaps were given as a lack of staff, capacity and higher demand, facility changes and additions to meet the children’s needs.
Challenges included a need for more staff training for local authority settings and more experienced staff; infrastructure and facility changes. The whole sector including PVI settings said that recruiting and retaining staff was a big issue.
In order to deliver the childcare expansion to one and two-year-olds, the report concluded that there must be an increase in the capacity of the whole ELC sector; increased staff training and tailored learning pathways; inclusion of all types of provision especially attachment-led models. The expansion would have to proceed slowly.
Jane Malcolm, NDNA Scotland’s National Operations Manager said: “It’s clear from this report how important the private, voluntary and independent nursery sector is in delivering high quality places to under threes across Scotland. PVI providers are going to be vital partners in the forthcoming childcare expansion and must be supported appropriately.
“The Government and local authorities must utilise the capacity, experience and skills of the PVI sector in order to make this expansion a success. Money for increasing local authority infrastructure for the expansion should only be spent where there is no current PVI provision. It would be detrimental if provision is duplicated at a time of squeezed public spending, potentially putting PVI settings out of business.
“The PVI sector must be fully supported to deliver the expansion with funding rates that cover their costs and enable them to pay attractive wages to their staff. PVI settings lose significant numbers of their experienced and skilled staff to the maintained sector. They must be supported to be able to recruit and retain staff.”