GP0|#9fe80a4f-281a-4b59-9cb6-898d17eb9f0f;L0|#09fe80a4f-281a-4b59-9cb6-898d17eb9f0f|Scottish education system;GTSet|#be6d6ed0-609d-4723-b17a-bc81cbe67c93;GPP|#5ea2f055-709a-49aa-816c-bc466c16e12f

 Catalog-Item Reuse

Early learning and childcare (ELC)

Early learning and childcare (ELC) is a generic term used to cover the full range of early education and childcare available in Scotland today. The term early learning and childcare is intended to emphasise that the care and education of very young children are not two separate things. Babies and young children learn all the time from all their experiences.

Early learning and childcare settings are all those which offer education and childcare to children up to school age. These include settings known as family centres, nursery schools, nursery classes attached to primary schools, and childminders. Early learning and childcare settings can be operated by local authorities, private businesses, voluntary sector organisations, and in the case of childminders, self-employed individuals.

The term 'early learning and childcare' was introduced in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The Act replaced the previous entitlement of up to 475 hours per year of free sessions of pre-school education for 3-5 year olds, with a more flexible offer of up to 600 hours ELC per year for 3-5 year olds and certain eligible 2 year olds. Parents may also purchase additional hours of ELC for children who have an entitlement, and those who are not yet entitled to free hours.

Key documents

  • The Early Years Framework (2008) sets out a vision for early years services in Scotland to ensure that children get ‘the best start in life’.
  • Building the Ambition (2014), is national practice guidance for all those delivering early learning and childcare to babies, toddlers and young children.
  • Pre-Birth to Three: Positive Outcomes for Scotland’s Children and Families is national guidance to support practitioners and students working with babies and toddlers aged 0-3 and their families.
  • Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) builds on the solid foundations developed in the critical years ​pre-birth to three. Within CfE, children are entitled to a broad general education from age three until the end of S3. The early level of CfE for most children spans the period of time from age three until the end of Primary 1. It supports a smooth transition in learning between ELC and primary school.
  • How good is our early learning and childcare? (2016) provides a suite of quality indicators. These support staff to look inwards, to scrutinise their work and evaluate what is working well for babies, toddlers and young children, and what could be better. The framework is designed to be used to support self-evaluation for self-improvement by practitioners at all levels.

Practical support and resources

Resources on the National Improvement Hub (NIH) are tagged by subject. This includes an ELC subject tag. Searching live on the NIH ensures you are checking the most up-to-date list of ELC resources. The following resources on the NIH may be of interest to ELC practitioners.

Cowcaddens Nursery - eTwinning Project Report
Gaelic Medium Education 3-18 - A case study from Sir E Scott School
Briefings on Gaelic Education/Fiosrachadh mun Ghàidhlig
Language Is Fun Together (LIFT)
Forest Kindergarten Approach - Learning Outdoors With Confidence
Creativity - Dylan Wiliam
A’ cur taic ris an Ìre Thràth ann am Foghlam Tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig / Supporting the Early Years in Gaelic Medium Education
Argyll and Bute Approach – Knowing Each Child as a Learner
Block Play – Block Building in the Early Years
Building the Ambition at Cowgate Under 5s Centre
Developing nurturing relationships in Early Years in Dundee
Early Learning and Childcare and the Scottish Attainment Challenge
Improving gender balance 3-18
Children's learning journeys at Monkton Primary School Nursery Class
Creativity infographics
Development of creativity through play at Ballogie Nursery
Evidencing change in fathers participating family learning groups
Engaging with families
Effective environments to promote learning for children aged zero to five
Effective observation leading to effective assessment
How staff involve parents in their children’s learning - Ladybird Nursery School
How Woodside Nursery School has developed partnerships to support children’s learning
Inspiring environments for high-quality learning
Learning at home with science boxes - West Kilbride Primary School
Learning outdoors with confidence - Newmains Family Learning Centre
Managing Risk in Outdoor Learning
Pedagogical Leadership in Early Learning and Childcare
Permission to be creative - Brian Boyd
Planning for learning and parental engagement in RME at the early level
Planning learning at Auchlone Nature Kindergarten
Playtime Revolution – a resource from Grounds for Learning
Science across the school - early level at Strathallan Primary
Sciences 3-18 curriculum review - Good practice
Schematic play - Taking a closer look
Talking and listening across the four learning contexts
Talking, listening and questions
The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Years Education
Using ‘App’ technology to improve parental engagement in Dundee

Our newsletters provide the latest information on education news and events, as well as details of resources and activities to help you support your child's learning.