New funding of £1 million will mean more children can reap the benefits of outdoor play and learning, whatever the weather.
Nurseries and other Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings can apply to the fund for help to buy winter clothing for young children who need it.
“Our guidance advises ELC settings to reduce the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission by maximising the time that children spend outdoors. We also know that playing, learning and having fun outdoors helps to improve children’s wellbeing and resilience, as well as their physical and mental health.
“However, not every family can afford to provide suitable outdoor clothing for their children and not every ELC setting can fill the gap, which can present barriers to outdoor play in colder weather. This funding will mean more young children will be able to enjoy the many benefits of playing and learning outdoors in winter.”
The fund will be open to any setting delivering funded ELC and will ensure that three and four year olds and eligible two year olds have access to suitable outdoor clothing during their time in ELC, reducing inequalities in accessing the outdoors.
The Scottish Government already supports outdoor play and learning through funding to Living Classrooms for their Virtual Nature School (VNS) programme, providing training and support to ELC practitioners.
More than 1000 practitioners have benefitted from this training, which supported the delivery of outdoor play sessions to 40,000 families over the period of restrictions when many were unable to access childcare. A further 500 teams from across the ELC sector have been offered a place on the programme's winter cohort, to support the continued delivery of high quality, all-weather, outdoor experiences.
To date, the Scottish Government has provided funding of £208,860 for the VNS programme.
The £1 million winter clothing fund, which is part of the Scottish Government’s £100 million winter social package, will be open to ELC settings delivering the universal funded ELC offer.
The fund will be open for applications in January 2021. Inspiring Scotland has been appointed as administrators of the fund. Inspiring Scotland has worked extensively with the ELC sector to support outdoor play over the past few years and has administered numerous funds on behalf of the Scottish Government.