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Scottish Study of Early Learning and Childcare

Father & sons reading
Published: November 2019

This study assesses the expansion of government funded early learning and childcare

Aim

The Scottish Study of Early Learning and Childcare assesses the extent to which the expansion from 600 to 1140 hours of government funded early learning and childcare (ELC) for all children aged 3 to 5 and some eligible 2-year olds, improves outcomes for children and parents, particularly those who are at risk of disadvantage.

Methods

This is the third phase of a project that will run over several years using multiple samples, all with the overarching purpose of comparing outcomes for children experiencing 600 hours of government funded early learning and childcare (ELC) with those experiencing the expanded 1140 hours. The purpose of ELC expansion is twofold: firstly, to support children’s cognitive, social and emotional development, and secondly to support more parents into work, study or training.

The first phase involved collecting baseline data through a survey given to parents and keyworkers of 2-year-olds receiving 600 hours of ELC. These surveys collected information regarding, among other things, the child’s developmental progress, their health and general wellbeing and the impact of childcare on the parents’ economic activity. Observations of the ELC settings by the Care Inspectorate were linked to the survey responses given by keyworkers and parents. A report of the findings for phase 1 is now available here.

In the second phase a nationally representative sample of 4/5 year olds who had received 600 hours of state funded ELC and were leaving ELC to start school in August 2019 were invited to participate in the research. Surveys of the children’s parents and keyworkers collected information on the same topics (development, health and wellbeing etc.) covered in the first phase. Again, as with the first phase, survey data was linked to observations of the settings made by Care Inspectorate staff.

In this third phase of the study, two groups of children are being sampled: the eligible 2-year olds who participated in the first phase and who will be aged 3 at the time of data collection; and a nationally representative sample of 3-year olds receiving statutory ELC. Parents and keyworkers will complete questionnaires covering the same topics as were covered in the first and second phases. By following up the children who participated in the first phase as eligible 2s, we will be able to assess the impact that receiving 600 hours of state funded ELC has had on child and parental outcomes one year on.