Scotland’s care watchdog, the Care Inspectorate, today published its annual childcare statistics. The figures show how, where and to whom childcare is provided. 

 The report looks at both childminders operating in their own home, and day care services such as nurseries, playgroups, out of school clubs and holiday play schemes. This is the third year these statistics have been produced. Any person or organisation in Scotland providing care must be registered with the Care Inspectorate.

The total number of registered childcare services fell slightly 10,159 in 2011 to 10,099 in 2012. This represents an increase of 25 childminders looking after children in their own home, but fewer forms for day care – something also seen in previous years.

The rise in the number of childminders to 6,274 was mirrored by a rise in the number of children attending them. Around 30,390 children attended a registered childminder on census day 2012 – over a thousand more children than in the previous year. 

The number of children attending day care services fell from 193,210 to 191,270 over the course of the year, during which time Scotland’s child population actually increased by over 1,300.

Day care centres are most likely to be operated by local authorities (45.1%), up slightly on previous years. The private sector accounted for 28.3%, a slight fall, and the proportion of not-for-profit services decreased slightly from to 10.6%.

In general, there were more services per head of population in rural areas, compared to urban areas, but services in urban areas had more children attending them. Children/family centres, crèches and holiday play schemes are mainly found in urban areas. Very few rural areas have such service types. In large urban areas, children/family centres have an average capacity of 56 children, which is higher than all other service types.

There were over twice the number of childminders per head of population in remote small towns compared to large urban areas, but the number of children they looked after was similar across urban and rural areas – rising to six, from five last year.

There were half as many childminders per head of population in the most deprived areas compared to the least areas, but day care centres were more evenly spread across the least deprived and most deprived areas.

The extent of provision of pre-school education is very similar to the previous three years.  Overall, 92% of all nurseries were providing pre-school education through either local authority or partnership-funded education, falling to 68% in children/family centres and 66% in playgroups.

Annette Bruton, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said:

“These figures paint a picture of how children in Scotland are looked after, with clear patterns that will help inform childcare plans.

“Children are now less likely to be cared for in a nursery or playgroup, matched with a steady increase in the number of childminders. 

“Local authorities are still  the main provider of nurseries, family centres and playgroups with a reduction of places in the private and voluntary sector.

“The difference in the number of childminders between the most and least deprived areas is concerning, even though other forms of childcare are more equal. This is an area that needs to be carefully monitored to see whether all parents have a choice of settings for the care of their children. 

“Scotland has a strong history of combining childcare and education in nurseries, so it is encouraging to see family centres and playgroups following suit.”

Read Childcare Statistics 2012

Read supporting excel file