Realising the Ambition - Being Me : National Practice Guidance for Early Years in Scotland

Crichton, Vicky and Carwood-Edwards, Jean and Ryan, Janine and McTaggart, James and Collins, Janice and MacConnell, Mary Pat and Wallace, Lesley and Diamond, Catherine and Grogan, Deirdre and Carey, Jenny and MacAulay, Liz and Shaw, Nicky and Gill, Catriona and Johnston, Kathleen (2020) Realising the Ambition - Being Me : National Practice Guidance for Early Years in Scotland. Education Scotland, Livingston.

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Since 2013 there has been a determined focus by the Scottish Government to work towards realising the ambition for Scotland to be the best place for children to grow up in and learn. Changes to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, have resulted in our youngest children, particularly those from birth to starting school, being at the heart of significant new developments. In 2014 Scottish Government started to increase the number of hours of funded provision to 600 hours for 3 and 4 year olds and some two year olds. The national practice guidance, “Building the Ambition” was commissioned at this time to complement the new policy developments and to support practitioners. The further expansion of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) to 1140 hours per year for all 3 and 4 year olds, and for around a quarter of 2 year olds will be available from August 2020. This expansion to 1140 hours seeks not only to extend funded places, but to also improve the quality of our ELC provision across Scotland. We know that the earliest years of life are crucial for every child. Evidence tells us that, if our early learning and childcare offer is to help children fulfil their potential and contribute to closing the poverty related gap in children’s outcomes, it has to be high quality. To support the expansion it was decided to refresh the original Building the Ambition, incorporating and updating relevant aspects of the Pre-Birth to Three guidance and extending across the child’s learning journey into the early years of primary school. This new guidance, Realising the Ambition: Being Me, reflects the original principles and philosophy of Building the Ambition and complements the current policy direction of ELC and early primary education. It aspires to support practitioners in delivering what babies and young children need most and how we can most effectively deliver this in Scotland to give children the best start in life. The practice guidance aims to support anyone who works with and for babies and young children across all areas of Scotland. It has been designed to: build confidence and capability of those who work with children and families from pre-birth to starting school and beyond; make links between practice, theory and policy guidance to reinforce aspects of high quality provision and the critical role practitioners play; clarify some aspects of current practice and provide a reference which practitioners can easily use; support improvement and quality by encouraging discussion, self reflection and questioning about relevant practice in each setting, and; provide advice on achieving the highest quality of ELC and early primary provision that will enable young children to experience and to play their own part in Scotland being the best place in the world to grow up.