CHILDREN: Nursery take-up among poorest kids is cratering

Artwork by Jane Heaney

By Lucy Ashton

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie has attacked the Scottish Government’s roll-out of expanded early learning and childcare.

He revealed new figures showing just 43% of those eligible are currently taking up the offer, with the number of children signed up actually falling in the last quarter.

Two-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds have been entitled to free childcare since 2015, after Scottish Liberal Democrat campaigning convinced SNP ministers of its potential to improve early development and attainment.

However, while the Scottish Government estimates that 14,500 2-year-olds are eligible, new figures uncovered by the party have revealed that just 6,188 were taking up the offer as of September 2022, a take-up rate of 43%.

Alongside a new public information campaign to get parents signed up, Scottish Liberal Democrats are now calling on the government to introduce a new Nursery Premium to support children in more deprived areas of Scotland in their early years.

The premium would mirror the Scottish Government’s pupil equity funding, in which schools are provided with additional funds to spend on measures which will boost attainment among pupils from the more deprived backgrounds.

Willie Rennie, right,  said:  “There was a time when the First Minister used to say that education was her top priority but nobody believes that anymore.

“Two-year-olds from poorer backgrounds are entitled to free early learning and childcare, thanks to the campaigning of the Scottish Liberal Democrats but the Scottish Government is still messing up the rollout. Scotland is miles behind England in the uptake of this offer.

“Worse still, new statistics buried in a government report show the number of children getting their free place has cratered, falling by almost 1,000 in recent months.

“This should be helping with the cost of living and raising attainment. The First Minister needs to explain why 8,000 of the poorest families in Scotland are still missing out.

“Alongside a new public information campaign to get parents signed up, Scottish Liberal Democrats are now calling on the government to introduce a new Nursery Premium to support children in more deprived areas of Scotland in their early years. This would help to make sure pre-school children from poorer backgrounds are better equipped when they start school.”

Date 2-year-olds taking any funded ELC 2-year olds taking >600 hours funded ELC 2-year-olds taking 1140 hours funded ELC
September 2022 6,188 5,826 5,156
April 2022 7,157 6,672 5,750
January 2022 6,913 6,321 5,373
August 2021 5,954 5,374 4,300
April 2021 6,204 5,249 4,113
February 2021 5,696 4,632 3,486
August 2020 4,866 4,172 2,865

The figures for two-year-olds from the Improvement Service can be found here: ELC Delivery Progress Reports | Improvement Service.

One comment

  1. Willie Rennie might be better spending his time dealing with parental concerns about the Scottish Government legislation about Gender Recognition.

    Already extensive policies are in place to encourage and support children who think they have gender disorientation. And these policies go down to pre-school children, up through primary and then on to secondary.

    Policies like your child being able to tell his or her teacher that he or she wants to be known by a certain name and or pronoun. With this being kept from parents if the child requests, the Scottish Government have even amended the systems to accommodate this. But consider this. At a local school teachers were recently advise, and this is verbatim from the toolkit issued to ALL teachers and pupils :-

    ” Be understanding, ( eg if a pupil asks you to use another name to feel comfortable ”

    ” If you make a mistake about a pupils name or pronoun, just apologise and then correct yourself ”

    And then, wait for this –

    ” Check when and where the pupil is comfortable with you using the names / pronouns they have requested ( Can you use the name /pronouns in front of other pupils, other staff, parent?)

    One on one teacher – pupil secret names is a disaster waiting to happen. Inappropriate relationships, grooming, and all in secrecy.

    Or what of the teaching aid for primary children with a banana and a jar of Nutella. How many parents are happy about their eight year old being taught about that. Or the recent Health Survey where every child over fourteen was asked about their anal, oral and sex practices. How many parents of a fourteen year old daughter were happy about. Many in fact with some twenty one of the thirty two local authorities refusing to issue the classroom survey. And the Scottish Government response to the furore was that the children didn’t need to answer it.

    And so it goes on. What about the child who young, impressionable, vulnerable, without capacity, is supported and encouraged to adopt, or even change their gender, for them to later decide they made a mistake, and a mistake aided by educational directive dogma. Who picks up the wreckage then.

    Or the child groomed by perverts hiding in plain sight, It bound to happen. But without being light on this absolutely grim situation, how many people know Garry Glitter is being scheduled for release from prison.

    And on release could he come to Scotland and get a legal Gender Recognition Certificate. Well of course he could, as could many others. It’s insanity, utter insanity.

    And Willie Rennie’s focus is the number of pre-school teaching hours.

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