The Care Inspectorate has today published ‘Early Learning and Childcare Statistics 2021’, which shows the availability and quality of early learning and childcare (ELC) for children and families across Scotland.

All services were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in different ways during 2021. Many services continued their provision albeit with significant adjustments, some were closed for parts of the year while many others had shorter periods of closure due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

The annual publication, covering 2021, shows that compared to 2020 there are fewer early learning and childcare (ELC) services operating, but despite this, the number of places available has once again increased.

The quality of services remained high overall with 92.8% of childminders and 87.7% of daycare of children services found to be good or better for all quality themes. This compares to 92.6% of childminders and 88.7% of daycare of children services achieving this standard in 2020. The proportion of services with all themes found to be weak or unsatisfactory remained very low.

There is no correlation between prevalence of good quality funded services (those evaluated as good or better in all themes) and levels of deprivation, indicating that a consistent level of good quality funded provision is available in all areas.

The total number of children registered with early learning and childcare services has increased compared to 2020. The main driver in this is a large increase in the number of children registered with nurseries and a notable increase in children registered with out of school care services.

Jackie Irvine, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “High-quality early learning and childcare services help children across Scotland to have the best start in life, supporting them on their learning journey as they grow.

“These vital services can play a key role in reducing the poverty-related attainment gap, and provide a crucial service for families. The availability of good, local care can also support parents to access employment or training.

“Every child in Scotland has the right to good quality, safe care which meets their needs and respects their rights.”

“Again, we have seen examples of excellent early learning and childcare services across local authority, voluntary and private sectors, and we will continue to offer services our support to improve where needed."

Contact Information

Care Inspectorate Media

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Notes to editors

The full report can be read here.

The supporting tables can be read here.