In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, legislation was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 30 March 2020 to remove the statutory duty on education authorities to make 1140 hours of early learning and childcare (ELC) available to each eligible child from August 2020.
Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Head of Education at East Ayrshire Council explains how East Ayrshire’s plans will be affected:
“The impact of the pandemic means that much of the work planned for this summer to enable roll out of the 1140 hours expansion cannot now go ahead. Construction, extensions and refurbishment projects are delayed, recruitment and induction of additional staff is on hold, and our priority is to concentrate on the urgent task of providing critical childcare for those who need it most in partnership with other childcare services.
“It will therefore be necessary to amend our plans in East Ayrshire for the implementation of all 1140 hours placements in all early childhood centres, funded ELC providers and blended models of ELC with childminders. We know that some parents will be very disappointed by this news as you might already have incorporated this entitlement into your childcare plans for August. However, at this time, we cannot reasonably assess when full delivery may be achievable and we will not be able to do so until the extent and duration of the impacts of the pandemic are clear.
“The allocation of places to all early childhood centres, funded providers and childminders in East Ayrshire is usually completed by the end of May, however, this process is currently on hold as our focus at present is the delivery of critical childcare.
“If you have applied for a place for your child or your child is due to return to an ELC setting in August 2020, we will provide an update on the allocation of places and hours as soon as practicable.
“Decisions about reopening ELC settings and the pattern of hours to be delivered will be shaped and informed by national guidance and the national public health advice on how we best respond to COVID-19.”