It is in the early years that the foundations for children's future literacy, numeracy, social and emotional wellbeing, and the broader capacity to learn are laid. Children's cognitive, social and emotional development begins in the home - from before birth onwards. It is vital that all children are raised within nurturing and stimulating environments, and that we support parents, where they may need help in providing this. There is also a great deal of evidence, such as the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education, Primary and Secondary (EPPSE) study, pointing to the role played by high quality early learning and care in nurturing children's development. It is important that children have access to high quality, developmental experiences at each point of their learning journey. Early years settings deliver early learning using the principles of "active learning" which fully engage children in learning activities appropriate to their age and stage. A key benefit of Curriculum for Excellence is that its early level now spans the pre-school and P1 stage meaning children in P1 experience greater continuity in their learning.
The EPPSE study has shown that high quality pre-school experiences lead to better intellectual and social/behavioural development and that disadvantaged children benefit significantly from good quality pre-school experiences. There are, however, significant differences between pre-school providers, and research shows that the quality of provision makes a significant difference to outcomes for children.
The indicator is derived from evaluations made by HM Inspectors of Schools of improvements in performance in terms of three key learning outcomes for children. These include improvements in performance including children's progress, the quality of children's engagement in learning experiences, and how well their learning needs are met. The inspection programme of pre-school education centres evaluates the quality of provision in pre-school establishments, aims to support improvement in all early education centres, and measures the quality of provision against the quality framework The Child at the Centre 2. Inspection reports provide Scottish ministers with an overview of the standards in pre-school education across Scotland. They also provide local authorities, who deliver pre-school education in their own centres and commission places from partner providers, with a measure of the quality of pre-school provision in their area and help identify areas for support and improvement. Inspection reports also provide parents with an independent assessment of the quality of care and education in individual centres and complement the self-evaluation of providers as they seek to improve their performance.
The quality of leadership and staff is a key factor in determining the quality of pre-school provision. The ongoing process of raising the qualifications of the early years and childcare workforce, including the requirement that managers of centres be qualified to SCQF level 9 from 2011, is expected to have a positive impact on the quality of early education and childcare provision. In addition, the ongoing delivery of early years education for primary teachers as a postgraduate degree or part of their undergraduate degree will also contribute to upskilling primary teachers. Ongoing CPD delivered, especially in partnership between teachers and early years officers, will contribute to the quality of pre-school provision. Local authorities also work jointly with partner providers to provide quality assurance, CPD and support.
The HMIE report, The Key Role of Staff in Providing Quality Pre-School Education, showed that centres with teachers tended to receive higher evaluations than those without. We are committed to providing all pre-school children, in all types of provision, with access to a teacher - and this should have a beneficial impact on the quality of pre-school provision. Further factors influencing the quality of provision include: the level of quality improvement and curriculum support given to providers by local authorities; and the levels of funding available to providers to recruit and retain high quality staff.
The Government and its agencies are responsible for setting the wider legal, regulatory and policy framework for pre-school education provision. This includes putting in place the statutory framework for pre-school education including setting the age that children are eligible for free provision and how many hours they are entitled to.
It also includes the regulatory framework and other related legislation, for example on additional support for learning. The Scottish Government and its agencies have also issued standards and guidance for pre-school education providers such as the National Care Standards for Early Education and Childcare, The Child at the Centre2 (HMIE) and statutory guidance on pre-school education.
The Scottish Government sets the overall framework for learning from 3-5 through Curriculum for Excellence, and from birth to age three through Pre-birth to Three Positive Outcomes for Scotland's Children and Families.
We work with partners in local government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) to progress aspects of policy development on pre-school education, such as the role of teachers in pre-school, as well as private and third sector providers of early learning and childcare.
Education Scotland (bringing together HMIE, Learning and Teaching Scotland, Positive Behaviour Team and National Continuing Professional Development Team) are working with local authorities and all sectors involved in the delivery of early learning and childcare to support the implementation of Pre-birth to Three Positive Outcomes for Scotland's Children and Families; and Curriculum for Excellence. This includes support for local authorities and all those working within the early years workforce, including teachers and nursery officers across all sectors; in addition to evaluating performance and improvement through inspection; and regulation and quality improvement provided, in partnership with the Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council.
396 pre-school centres were inspected in the first post-baseline sample which accounted for 16 per cent of all private, public and voluntary pre-school centres open at September 2013.
Of those inspected, 94% were evaluated as satisfactory or better in all of the three Reference Quality Indicators, 74% were evaluated as good or better and 32% as very good or better in all three Reference Quality Indicators. Positive criteria were not met in 6% of pre-school centres inspected.
These percentages have all shown an improvement over the baseline figures. There has been a statistically significant increase in the proportion of pre-school centres evaluated as very good or better however the improvement in those receiving a satisfactory or better evaluation is not statistically significant.
The data is available at the bottom of the page
A 'Performance Maintaining' arrow is suggested for this indicator as the percentage of pre-school centres that are receiving positive inspection reports has remained at a consistent level over the three years of data collected to date.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
Education Scotland (formerly Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIE)
Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS)
Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
Wealthier and Fairer