By Aileen MacLennan
Significant changes have taken place in schools and nurseries across Argyll and Bute over the summer holidays, as the council prepared to roll out 1140 hours fully funded childcare provision to more areas.
The expansion in childcare, from 600 hours to 1140 hours, is part of a Scottish Government initiative aimed at providing young people with a high quality experience that can make a significant contribution to their development, and help close the poverty related attainment gap.
To accommodate the increased hours, a new early years room has been created at both Sandbank Primary near Dunoon, and Cardross Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) unit, near Helensburgh.
Significant building work also took place to alter the existing ELC units at Carradale, Dalmally, Drumlemble, Tarbert, Tighnabruaich and St Joseph’s Primary Schools, whilst Campbeltown Nursery Centre has opened an additional unit at Aqualibrium.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “Our expansion to 1140 hours is going very well. A total of 52 of our ELC units are now offering these increased hours, and we are well on track with the rest.
“Our early years staff have worked extremely hard to meet tight deadlines and ensure that quality provision is in place for our young people. They have worked tirelessly with their colleagues in catering, property services, environmental health and members of the Care Inspectorate, to make this happen.
“Staff have taken part in a range of outdoor learning training too. This is really important as 50% of learning within nurseries will be done outdoors by August 2020.
“We want the very best start for our children and young people and, with very exciting things happening in our early years service, I have no doubt that we are helping to make that happen.”