Outdoor Clothing (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 27th January 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Elena Whitham Elena Whitham Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to extend financial support for outdoor clothing to early learning and childcare settings. (S6O-00676)

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

Childcare providers have worked creatively over the pandemic to increase opportunities for outdoor learning, as evidence shows that the risk of transmission is reduced outdoors. To support that, we launched in December 2020 a £1 million outdoor clothing fund for providers of funded early learning and childcare as part of our wider winter support package. The fund was used to buy outdoor winter clothing for children who needed it most. A total of 1,040 childcare providers successfully bid for that funding, and children continue to benefit from the clothing this year.

We continue to work closely with the childcare sector to monitor the impacts of the pandemic and to keep the need for further financial support under review.

Photo of Elena Whitham Elena Whitham Scottish National Party

I thank the minister for that answer. Will she outline what steps are being taken to increase children’s access to outdoor play?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

We are supporting the growth of outdoor learning and practitioner confidence in that area in a number of ways. During the pandemic, we funded a virtual nature school programme, which supported more than 2,000 practitioners and 40,000 children and family members to have quality outdoor experiences. We funded Inspiring Scotland through the early learning and childcare expansion to increase outdoor play and learning activities. We continue to add to our “Out to Play” practitioner guidance series, and the national practice guidance “Realising the Ambition” is also supporting practitioners to deliver more outdoor play. We will work with practitioners to develop strong communities of practice.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

We have a supplementary question from Colin Smyth, who joins us remotely.

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

The minister will know that, at the moment, pupils are not just in need of warm clothing outdoors. To be frank, they are freezing indoors in classrooms. What additional financial help is being made available for parents to keep their children warm inside schools? Teachers are having to open windows in the middle of winter in place of proper classroom ventilation.

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

As Mr Smyth will be aware, the Scottish Government provides school clothing grants to school-age children. That provision has increased over the years, and we will c ontinue to support families who need our assistance to provide adequate school clothing.