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National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare

DescriptionThis national practice guidance sets the context for high quality Early Learning and Childcare as set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The guidance seeks to support practitioners in all settings and areas of Scotland who are delivering early learning and childcare.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateAugust 21, 2014


ISBN 978 1 78412 753 4 (Web only publication)
DPPAS 34990

This document is also available in pdf format (4.7MB)

The following terminology is used throughout this guidance:

  • Practitioners - is a single term which encompasses all staff and adults who work with children under 5 years old until they start school and includes childminders, teachers, managers, supervisors, support and out of school care workers.
  • The Act means the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
  • Early Learning and Childcare (ELCC) - encompasses all previous terminology related to pre-school provision and early education. It also refers to the different types of settings, such as private providers, Gaelic medium settings, local authority settings, voluntary groups and childminding.
  • Additional Support for Learning and issues of equality and diversity, although not specifically noted, are taken as being implicit throughout the text and are integral to the delivery of high quality early learning and childcare.


Executive summary

Introduction: Building the Ambition

Section 1: Why do we need this?
1.1 Background
1.2 Why the terminology early learning and childcare?
1.3 Who needs to take account of this change?

Section 2: What we know from policy and research
2.1 Context
2.2 Getting it Right for Every Child
2.3 Growing up in Scotland
2.4 The Early Years Collaborative
2.5 Review of the workforce

Section 3: What makes the difference for children and families?
3.1 The image of the child
3.2 Case Study: Ross
3.3 Involvement of the family

Section 4: What do we mean by play and learning?
4.1 How are play and learning connected?

Section 5: Understanding attachment
5.1 Attachment theory - a definition
5.2 What should a practitioner do to help?
5.3 Case Study: Mandy

Section 6: Early Learning and Childcare - what do children need?
6.1 The question of developmental stages
6.2 What are the key characteristics of being a baby, toddler and young child?
6.3 The baby
6.4 Moving on to being a toddler
6.5 Being a young child
6.6 The importance of transition

Section 7: Putting pedagogy into practice
7.1 What do we mean by pedagogy?
7.2 Essential aspects which drive early learning
7.3 A focus on babies - what do they need?
7.4 A focus on toddlers - what do they need?
7.5 A focus on the young child - what do they need?

Section 8: What are the key elements of quality in a setting?
8.1 What do we mean by quality?
8.2 What does quality mean for children?
8.3 What does quality mean for practitioners?
8.4 Quality matters
8.5 Quality assurance and improvement
8.6 External quality assurance and regulation

Section 9: Conclusion