In this parliament, the SNP’s most transformative infrastructure project will be a revolution in early years education and childcare.
Free childcare has already been increased to 16 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds – up from 12.5 hours in 2007 – and extended to 2 year olds from low income households. By the end of this parliament, we’ll hit 30 hours a week, more than doubling spending to £990 million and saving families over £4,500 per child per year.
We will make sure that this expansion in childcare provision is founded on quality, flexibility, accessibility and affordability. Every child and family is different, and so we will focus on the individual and what works best for them. We will remove barriers to private and third sector providers delivering funded Early Learning and Childcare, and ensure parents have genuine choice of provision across sectors.
This means that parents can choose a nursery or childminder that best suits their needs and ask the local authority to fund it, so long as the provider meets the agreed standards.
Alongside these measures, we will create 600 new early learning and childcare centres, and recruit 11,000 new staff into the childcare profession by 2020.
This year a record number of early learning and childcare Modern Apprenticeships are expected to start – building on a 22 per cent increase over the past five years. In addition, the number of foundation apprenticeships, which gives young people work experience while still at school, are expected to more than double to more than 700.