Stirling Council’s expansion of free early learning and childcare has enabled almost 40 modern apprentices to join the service’s training programme over the past two years.
Childcare expansion recruits celebrate their graduation

Participants in the scheme work full-time in a nursery and work towards a *SVQ 3 qualification in Social Services (Children and Young People) by attending a training provider in Glasgow each fortnight.

The first cohort on the programme graduated at Glasgow Caledonian University earlier this month, with six securing a permanent position with the service and five gaining a one-year temporary contract.

In 2018, the programme criteria was extended to include the 24+ age group to create more opportunities for local people seeking a change in career, resulting in 12 more successful candidates, a mix of men and women.

This year, the number of new modern apprentices increased again to 14, which included more people from other age groups.

Developing a high-quality workforce

Kevin Kelman, Stirling Council’s Chief Education Officer and Chief Officer for People, said: “We are thrilled at the success of our early learning and childcare modern apprenticeship programme and it’s fantastic to see our first cohort take up their positions – a huge congratulations to them all on their recent graduation.

“Recruiting and training these skilled and enthusiastic modern apprentices not only provides local people with employment opportunities but allows us to develop a high-quality workforce to help give children in our care the best start in life.”

These impressive numbers are another positive indicator that the Council is on track to deliver the Scottish Government’s free early learning and childcare initiative.

The programme will almost double the amount of free childcare hours from 600 to 1,140 by 2020 for pre-school children (those aged three and four) and some two-year-olds.

Stirling is ensuring it will be ready to offer this important benefit to all families next year by August 2020, which has included working closely with partners in the private, voluntary and independent sector by implementing a phased rollout of the increased entitlement.

Inclusive phased approach

Phase one started in August 2018, in the Bannockburn and McLaren learning communities, with phase two commencing at the start of this academic term across Wallace, Stirling and the rest of McLaren.

More than 1,500 early learning and childcare places are now available for the programme in local authority nurseries and with private nurseries, childminders and voluntary sector nurseries.

The final phase of the roll out will get underway in August next year as the Dunblane and Balfron learning communities join the programme.

Mr Kelman added: “Through this phased approach, we are leading the way among Scottish local authorities, with 75 per cent of places available to eligible children one year early.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for their dedicated efforts and we will continue to work hard to ensure we are ready to provide this important benefit to all entitled children in 2020.”


  1. *The Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) 3 in Health and Social Care (Children and Young People) at SCQF level 7 is based on standards developed collaboratively by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), TOPSS (England), Skills for Care, Care Council for Wales, the Northern Ireland Care Council and Skills for Health.