Nurseries set to offer more flexible hours

More flexible hours could soon be on offer at Fife Council nurseries, while Cllr William Campbell is urging parents of two-year-olds to check if their children are eligible for free places.

More flexible hours could soon be on offer at Fife Council nurseries, while Cllr William Campbell is urging parents of two-year-olds to check if their children are eligible for free places.

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Families in Fife could soon have access to more flexible early learning and childcare if recommendations to Fife Council are approved next week.

Members of the executive committee will be asked to consider a series of proposals to offer more flexible nursery hours for eligible two year olds and all three and four year olds, which could mean parents having more options when it comes to sending their child to nursery.

The move follows the decision by the Scottish Government earlier this year to increase nursery hours from 475 to 600 a year, and the Council has consulted parents and carers on a number of possible options.

At the moment, the only option on offer is five half-day sessions per week.

Councillors will be asked to approve further options of four four-hour sessions per week; two full-day sessions per week; and extended hours early learning and childcare in Fife’s Family Nurture Centres.

If the recommendation is agreed, these options will be offered from August 2015.

Carrie Lindsay, area education officer, said: “Our aim is not just to provide the required 600 hours per child per year, but to offer families a more flexible way of accessing quality early learning and childcare in Fife, giving children the best start in life and helping families adapt to the increased hours more easily.

“We hope by giving parents and carers more flexible access to early learning and childcare we can ensure all families in all areas of Fife are supported.”

The report also recommends increasing the number of Family Nurture Centres in Fife, including one in Cupar.

Meanwhile, parents and carers of two-year-olds in north east Fife are being encouraged to check whether their children are eligible for early learning and childcare.

More than 253 two-year-olds in Fife are now attending nursery, but there are still many more eligible families who have not yet taken up the opportunity.

Councillor William Campbell, early years ambassador, said: “We want to make sure all eligible families are aware their child can access an early learning and childcare place.”

For families in north east Fife, nurseries currently able to accommodate two-year-olds are Westfield Nursery School in Cupar, St Andrews Nursery and Auchtermuchty Primary School Nursery.

A list of the benefits which qualify for being eligible and a copy of the application form is available on the FifeDirect website.