Coronavirus: Plea for patience as early learning and childcare places delayed

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1140 free childcare hours no longer have to be supplied from August.

Fife Council has had to delay its implementation as a result of the chaos caused by the virus.

The Scottish Government announced that the 1140 free childcare hours would no longer have to be supplied by local authorities from August.

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This is partially due to a stall on construction of expanded and new nurseries, due to working restrictions introduced to protect public health.

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In a statement to parents, Fife Council said: “If you have a child due to begin nursery, or return to nursery, in August 2020 you may have been waiting on a letter from us.

“We had planned to let everyone know about the allocation of nursery spaces, but, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to look again at how we are going to do this.

“The Scottish Government has told all local authorities that we should review plans for the 1140 hours of funded early learning and childcare from August. You’ll appreciate this ia a huge and difficult task.

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“We’ll be in touch as soon as we have any more information but, in the meantime, thanks so much for your continued support and understanding.

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Councillor Fay Sinclair, who convenes the education committee, added: “It is too early to say exactly what this will mean for each nursery.

“We still don’t know exactly how long the lockdown will last and that’s what’s holding up construction and recruitment.”
She said the council remained committed to delivering the extra care, but its timetable was now up in the air.

“Our Early Years Team is working through the implications this will have locally, but please be patient as this is an unknown situation for everyone,” she added.

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Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People, and Stephen McCAbe, COSLA spokesman, issued a joint statement on the delay.

They said: “Before the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic became clear a couple of weeks ago, Audit Scotland confirmed we were on track to deliver 1140 hours of early learning and childcare from August.

“However, in these exceptional circumstances it is not realistic or reasonable to expect that local authorities can deliver their original expansion plans to secure high quality experience for all children in time for August this year.  The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible to continue with the planned recruitment and infrastructure projects required to support expansion.”