Early Learning Centres Still On Pause For Extension to 1140 Hours
7th August 2020
Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) update.
At yesterday's (6 August) meeting of the Education Committee, Members were updated on the Council's provision of ELC, as part of the return of school and ELC settings.
At the previous meeting (2 July), a report on ELC was presented with national updates, including the removal of the statutory duty for Local Authorities to provide 1140 hours from August 2020. Members heard that due to wider impact and implications for ELC arising from Covid-19, plans on the further expansion of ELC settings to provide 1140 hours were paused, subject to further clarity from the Government on the Council's statutory duty.
The Government has since issued a letter reaffirming that this duty is still removed, therefore, the final phase of our delivery plan to provide 1140 hours for the remaining settings in August, remains paused.
Current focus is on the re-opening of Schools and ELC settings, from August onwards.
Since the date of the last committee, we have received further clarity on how ELC settings can operate as part of their reopening.
Three of the most recent developments are:
Children are no longer required to remain in small groups of 8
There is to be an ease on the current restrictions regarding blended placements.
And both breakfast clubs and out of school care can operate under revised Scottish Government guidance
On receiving this clarity, Chair of Education Committee, Councillor John Finlayson, said: "We welcome these changes from the Government as they will have a positive impact in our ability to deliver Early Learning and Childcare in all of Highland’s settings. The easing of these restrictions will allow parents and carers more flexibility to balance home and working life.
The safety of our staff, children and young people remains a priority, and we will continue to be directed by national guidance".
Highland Councillors have commended the Council's ongoing efforts to reduce carbon consumption over the past year. Members have welcomed the information that the Council has saved over 6,000 tonnes of carbon this year.
Virtual education in Highland - Supportive, Interactive, Engaging. The Highland Council can support and deliver education to any pupils who are asked to self-isolate by the Health Protection Team, in all of our 203 schools across the region.
Young people at school are the winners as a result of discussions between High Life Highland and The Highland Council that will see the Charity's staff phased back into schools after the October break. Speaking about the arrangement, High Life Highland Chairman, Ian Ross said, "I am delighted that once again our partnership working arrangements with colleagues in The Highland Council mean that High Life Highland staff will be able to recommence their work with young people during the school day and within school buildings.
The Highland Council is calling on the UK Government to help resolve the inequity of fuel poverty experienced in the Highlands of Scotland where people pay more for fuel and energy than other regions in the UK. Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson has written to the UK Government's Minister of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth) The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP calling on the government to replace the current electricity distribution system with one that replicates that of gas and telecoms and share the cost of energy distribution equally across the UK.
To mark Scotland's Climate Week for 2020, which runs from today until the 20th September, The Highland Council has organised a range of virtual events to share information and seek views from Highland residents and Council employees on climate related topics. Whilst the circumstances for Climate Week 2020 are very different to previous years, it still provides an important opportunity for organisations and communities to celebrate and showcase what they are doing to tackle climate change.
Highland residents are being warned that letters claiming they have won a share of £425,000 in a ‘postcode lottery' is a scam. The letters appear to be targeting the Skye area but are likely to be sent to various addresses across the Highland area.
Fiona Malcolm, has been appointed by The Highland Council as Interim Executive Chief Officer with immediate effect for Health and Social Care, pending recruitment of the permanent ECO post which is currently taking place. A qualified solicitor, Fiona has worked within the legislative and policy frameworks in place for both children's care and adult social care since joining The Highland Council in 2001.
Communities in The Highland Council area are to benefit from Crown Estates funding to be disbursed by the local authority. Councillors have agreed a funding distribution model to enable the disbursement of over £3million Crown Estates funds across the region.
Council today agreed an urgent motion by Cllrs Margaret Davidson, Andrew Jarvie, Alasdair Christie and Jimmy Gray with a call for more detailed local information sharing on Covid-19 for members in local government. The motion is as follows: "Throughout the pandemic we have received information on national and Highland wide numbers infected with Covid 19.
At the meeting on 9 September 2020 of the Council's Housing and Property Committee, Officers confirmed that house building targets will be met despite lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Chair of the committee, Cllr Ben Thompson, said: "I am delighted that we are able to continue to meet our targets for the Council house building programme.