Laura Dover

ELC Development Worker | Everyone’s Children Project

In 2016, the Scottish Government announced ambitious plans to expand the number of funded childcare hours from 600 hours to 1140 by 2020 – for all 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds too.

The expansion will almost double the funded childcare available to parents and will require investment and development of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) services across all sectors. At Everyone’s Children we wanted to explore the role the Third Sector could play in supporting these plans, what sort of challenges they might face and what kind of advice and support GCVS and the Third Sector Interface (TSI) could provide to help unlock the Third Sector’s potential.


A Mapping Exercise

We wanted to begin by building a map of provision in the city and found the information we required on the Glasgow Family Information Service website. It allowed us to analyse the type of provision available in each area, the number of places provided, opening hours and information on the availability additional support for learning and funded entitlement. We placed this data on a Google Map to show provision across the city, coded by Third, Private and Public Sector facilities.

Our mapping exercise showed around 35 Third Sector nurseries across Glasgow. However, this number includes nursery facilities only and there is a vast array of other Third Sector organisations who deliver play sessions and family support across the city.



Challenges & Barriers to Growth

We conducted qualitative interviews with Managers and Staff from 15 organisations. The sample was made up of a variety of Third Sector nurseries and other organisations providing early years services. We asked for their views on the proposed ELC expansion, their ability to play a role given their current circumstances and what, if anything, GCVS and the TSI could do to support them to grow, develop and diversify. Through these interviews we were able to identify a number of key issues that challenge our colleagues and their organisations and have limited – or could limit – their ability to achieve their potential:


  • Many Third Sector organisations do not meet the statutory definition of ‘early learning and childcare’ and so do not qualify as a ‘funded place’ provider;
  • Some had entered into partnerships with the Local Authority in order to be able to deliver ‘funded places’; others had decided not to because of the levels of bureaucracy involved;
  • Partnership agreements with the Local Authority were not appealing to some organisations because it would require a significant change in their services and delivery model;
  • Delivering services in low-income areas can create cash-flow issues as some parents experience difficulties in paying;
  • While there is demand for the services but there’s a lack of available premises or funding to refurbish suitable premises and so the opportunity to grow is lost;
  • Funding can limit the salary on offer and this impacts staff retention, meaning that some services find it difficult to recruit and retain skilled staff.


A role for GCVS & the Third Sector Interface

As our Everyone’s Children project is hosted by GCVS and funded by the Scottish Government, we wanted the research to consider the role EC, GCVS and the Third Sector Interface could play in supporting this agenda going forward.

It was clear throughout our interviews and analysis that there is a clear role for GCVS and the TSI in helping our Third Sector Early Learning and Childcare colleagues overcome some of the challenges they face – e.g. information, capacity building support, HR advice.

We will continue to advocate for the Sector and promote and showcase the amazing work they do while also exploring how we can create simple pathways that link organisations to the help, advice and training they need.

We will use our research to inform our discussions with strategic partners and decision makers at city-wide and national level. You can stay informed about our work by signing up to the Everyone’s Children Newsletter here.


On a personal note, I’d just like to thank all of the organisations and staff who took part in this research for their input and honesty which really helped us to understand challenges, barriers and needs. It has given us here at GCVS and Everyone’s Children a clear idea of our role and where we can be most beneficial to you and ultimately to Glasgow’s Children and Families.


Read the full report – Third Sector Role in ELC Glasgow