national policy

As the national intermediary organisation in Scotland for school-age childcare, the Scottish Out of School Care Network is involved in advocacy work on behalf of the sector. We are often asked to provide expert opinion and offer views, on proposals, issues or policies affecting the sector either now, or in the future and this can be at national, local or even international levels.

The government, both Scottish and UK, alongside the Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) often seek opinions on proposed changes to legislation, new policies and strategies- we ensure that school-age childcare is taken into consideration and what affect any proposals may have on the sector. Often we shall seek the views of the sector to ensure that we are accurately representing its views. Sometimes the views and opinions from the sector are divided and in such instances we must decide on a response which will support the best overall result for children and young people using school-age childcare services.

Currently SOSCN sits on a number of national policy forums, working and reference groups on a range of issues and focus areas.

In terms of highlighting and discussing policy developments we have a regular e-bulletins; policy seminars and occasional consultation events. We also conduct surveys and consultations of our own the sector, as required.

Irene Audain and Andrew Shoolbread lead on the policy work of the Scottish Out of School Care Network.

School age childcare: national children's charter

In 2022 and 2023 A Place in Childhood and Scottish Government worked with children in schools across Scotland to design a Charter for school age childcare in Scotland.

Short film: Co-designing a Children's Charter for School Age Childcare in Scotland (short version)

School age childcare delivery framework

Sets out the Scottish Government's commitment, action areas and the approach they will take over the next two to three years to deliver a system of affordable and accessible school age childcare which will be funded for those families who need it most.

National School Age Childcare Framework in Scotland

2003- Publication of “School's Out- Framework for the Development of Out of School Care. Childcare and Activities for School-Age Children and Young People”

In 2003, the then Scottish Government published “School's Out- Framework for the Development of Out of School Care. Childcare and Activities for School-Age Children and Young People”. This framework recognised the importance of school-age childcare and had the following aims, to

  • promote the benefits and effects of good-quality out-of-school care);
  • help and encourage the development of good-quality, accessible and sustainable OSC in response to parental demand; and
  • deliver on 3 priority areas which were identified as:
    • sustainability;
    • services for older children and young people; and
    • Strengthen fragile provision by developing quality and financial sustainability.

It was recognised that:

“We need to ensure that the right types of service are available for the parents whose children need them, in the right numbers, of the right quality, and at the times they are needed. Subject to local demand, this may include setting up suitable clubs for older children and young people, including services linked to study support. It will also involve providing OSC places for children in need, including children from vulnerable families and children with additional support needs.

This will require an increase in provision, and, in some areas, a more active role for local authorities and others in the planning, delivery and support of OSC.” (p100)

Read and download ‘School's Out':

2008 - Publication of the “The Early Years Framework”

The Early Years Framework was not specific to out of school care, but it did have an impact on the sector: although it was focusing on pre-birth to 8 years old, much of it was also seen to be relevant to children beyond the age of 8.

The framework was about “giving all our children the best start in life and the steps the Scottish Government, local partners and practitioners early years services need to take.” It also introduced the concept of early intervention in supporting children and families, which was seen to be of most relevant in the earliest years; this subsequently shaped policy development for the next decade.

Read and download “The Early Years Framework”:

2019 - Access to Childcare Fund

In June 2019 a £3million ‘Access to Childcare Fund' was announced which would fund community-based after school care and holiday childcare services to provide places for low-income families. [The fund was to run from April 2020 until the end of March 2022. In total 15 projects were funded and the fund was managed by Children in Scotland.]

Access to Childcare Fund- Children in Scotland

2019 - A Draft Framework for Out of School Care Consultation

In August 2019 a public consultation on a draft framework for out of school care in Scotland was launched- the framework was the culmination of 18 months of discussions, surveys and work conducted by a dedicated Out of School Care team in the Scottish Government.

Out of school care in Scotland - draft framework: consultation (30th August 2019)

2020- Publication of results of the draft framework consultation

In November 2020 the Scottish Government published the results of the previous year's consultation.

Out of school care in Scotland- draft framework: consultation analysis (16th November 2020)

2021 - Commitment to expand out of school care provision in “A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021 - 2022”

In September 2021 the Scottish Government published their programme for government 2021 - 2022 which included a commitment to “Build a new system of wrapround childcare- ensuring low income families with school age children have access to free childcare, before and after school and over the holidays.”

In ‘Chapter 2: Scotland as a Land of Opportunity', it states:

“We will also build a system of wraparound childcare by the end of this Parliament, providing care before and after school, all year round, and supporting parents- on low-incomes - to have secure and stable employment. Those on the lowest incomes will pay nothing, and others will make fair and affordable contributions. This offer will also reduce inequalities in access to a range of activities around about the school day, particularly for those children who may benefit most. To inform policy development, we are supporting 18 pilot projects, testing innovative models of school age childcare for families most at risk of poverty, and will undertake an evaluation of these by September 2022. Over this year, we will establish a diverse and inclusive panel made up of parents and carers and children and young people, and run a series of workshops to ensure user experience is front and centre in our system design. And, we will publish a 5 year delivery plan within the next year, setting out the phasing and timescales for delivery to the end of Parliament, engaging stakeholders in its development.

No child should be hungry when in school or early years provision. We will ensure that children have access to high-quality, nutritious food, in both early learning settings and schools. Within the government's first 100 days, we have reached agreement with local authorities to introduce free school lunches for primary 4 and 5 children, building on existing provision for P1-P3 pupils. We will now roll this out even further - from August 2022 we will fund free lunches for all primary school pupils. In the next year, we will develop plans to deliver free breakfasts to all primary and special school children, and start to pilot provision. We will also commence the phased roll-out of a food offer during the school holidays, starting with those who will benefit the most. As we design a system of wraparound childcare, we will integrate food and childcare provision wherever possible.”

(p40, A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-2022)

Read and download “A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-2022”

last updated: 29/11/2023