Midlothian is to pioneer new childcare trial

Eliza Waye, deputy manager at Sure Start Midlothian, is excited about the new trial.
Eliza Waye, deputy manager at Sure Start Midlothian, is excited about the new trial.

Midlothian is one of the 11 locations chosen by the Scottish Government for the next round of early learning and childcare trials.

The pilot scheme will see local childminders working closely with existing services through Sure Start and Mayfield Nursery School.

In the local trial, parents will be able to use childminders before and after nursery as part of their free childcare allowance – meaning they can fit their hours around their work.

Sure Start deputy manager Eliza Waye said the centres would team up with the Scottish Childminders Association (SCMA).

She said: “We are really excited to be able to be part of the trial.

“The proposal is that we work closely with the SCMA and if a parent opts to have the blended model – part of the time with the childminder and part of the time with Sure Start – we’d then partner with a childminder and work out the best plan of care for that particular child.

“For some children being in a nursery setting can be quite daunting, particularly if they are coming in at two years old and they haven’t experienced that before.

“It will allow us to sit down and look at the individual needs of the child and decide what’s best.”

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for education, Councillor Bob Constable said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been chosen.

“We’re already finding that being flexible is key to encouraging parents of take advantage of the free 600 hours of early learning and childcare for eligible two-year-olds and three and four-year-old children.

“By offering early learning hours that fit in with a family’s needs, not only can children benefit from high quality education, but also parents are then able to pursue other opportunities such as jobs, training or a college course.”

Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald said: “I particularly welcome this pilot because it will involve a blend of different types of early learning and childcare. This is a more flexible model that we know parents want to see more of.”

The total number of trials taking place to test out different delivery models is now 14.