UNDER 3s ARE MISSING OUT AND OVER 3s ARE NOT GETTING ENOUGH - BUT A SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SAYS SCOTLAND IS ABOUT TO BEGIN TO OFFER THE BEST PACKAGE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROVISION IN THE UK.
HERE ARE TWO STORIES WITH DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES ON THE CHALLENGES.
Glasgow, May 2012 - Scotland is not alone in needing to do better for its youngest citizens but our research shows only seven of 27 EU countries provide fewer formal services for under 3s, chief executive of Children in Scotland Bronwen Cohen said.
“There are no universal early childhood education and care services for the youngest children and even 3- and 4-year-olds only have a part-time education entitlement, not the full time places the European Commission recommends.”
Without universal services children under three have a very unequal experience, with those from disadvantaged backgrounds three times less likely to access formal services than their advantaged counterparts. Parents pay high fees for childcare – if it’s available – meaning some children benefit from meeting, playing and learning with others, while others do not.
Lack of affordable childcare is one reason why children under three are more likely to live in poverty than any other population group, Ms Cohen said.
“Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that a quarter of children referred to the Children’s Hearings System are now aged four and under, and the proportion is increasing.
“We know what the biggest problem is – a divided system that only acknowledges educational needs at the age of three, and then with limited hours, whilst care for under threes is regarded as largely a private matter,” Ms Cohen said.
For more, see Scotsman.com. (see also the related story below)
MINISTER URGED TO SUPPORT EUROPEAN PLAN
Glasgow, May 2012 - Charity Children in Scotland believes children’s services in Scotland are experiencing serious failures.
The European Structural Funds are available to all member states as part of the European Commission’s drive to drive up the standard of children’s services by 2020.
Desperate to avoid a missed opportunity, Children in Scotland has published ‘Welcome to our world: early childhood education and care services for children under three’, which outlines key challenges faced in maintaining quality early years services, based upon research drawn from five conferences held across Europe.
The charity is not the only organisation to call for action from the Scottish Government this week, with several unions, including the Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC), issuing a joint statement on the falling number of qualified nursery teachers. Unions feel let down that an SNP commitment to protect teachers from local authority cuts appears to be failing.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government has said: "In March, the First Minister announced a legislative commitment to the future of Scotland’s children and families, pledging to increase the amount of free nursery education from 475 hours a year to over 600 hours. The move will create the best package of nursery education provision on offer anywhere in the UK, and will help families by delivering improved childcare to around 120,000 children across Scotland and will apply to every three and four year old as well as the most vulnerable two year olds.
“The Scottish Government will continue working with local authorities, the Early Years Task Force and the childcare sector to develop childcare and early learning in Scotland to ensure it best supports our shared ambitions for the vital early years of life.”
For more, see daynurseries.uk.co.