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29/06/13 13:41

The future of childcare

Best international systems considered for independent Scotland.

Extended parental leave is among a number of options being considered for an independent Scotland.

Speaking at a celebration of the life of Mary Lily Walker, who established Scotland’s first infant health service, Minister for Children Aileen Campbell confirmed the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) will shortly begin work to consider the economic and social impacts of improving levels of childcare provision in an independent Scotland. International comparisons research on childcare was also published by the Scottish Government today.

Speaking from the University of Dundee after addressing delegates at the Mary Lily Walker conference, Ms Campbell said:

“To make Scotland the best place to grow up, we need to have early learning and childcare that takes its place among the best in Europe. We’ve already started to improve our system and the Children and Young People Bill will increase provision to 600 hours, saving families around £700 a year.

“I want to go further. Clearly there are issues to consider, but, in an independent Scotland with control of our welfare and taxation I know we can do even more to protect our most vulnerable children and families.

“Independence would bring with it a fundamental opportunity to improve outcomes for all our children, while also contributing to a just, equal and prosperous economy through a transformational shift towards a system of high quality, flexible, early learning and childcare.

“There are a range of options that we could consider in an independent Scotland, for example, a fully integrated universal system of early learning and childcare, with a legal entitlement for all children from age one to school-entry. This could be coordinated with maternity and paternity leave to ensure that there is no gap in support.

“A strong early learning and childcare entitlement will benefit our children, by getting their learning journey off to the best start. It will also help ensure families have the support they need to return to work and allow more Mums to take up jobs and boost our economic future.

“That is why, as the First Minister has said, we want a childcare system which is amongst the best in Europe in an independent Scotland. The Council of Economic Advisers will consider the economic and social impacts of improving levels of childcare, which will guide our thinking on changes in policy that could provide the best system for children, for families and for our economy.”

Notes to editors

The research that has been published today - Early Childhood Education and Childcare Provision: International Review of Policy, Delivery and Funding - can be accessed via: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/03/4564