Fife is ready for major changes to early learning and childcare

Capshard Primary, Kirkcaldy - extension to nursery (Pic: Darren SJ Mason)
Capshard Primary, Kirkcaldy - extension to nursery (Pic: Darren SJ Mason)

Fife is ready to embrace major changes to early learning and childcare.

A new Scottish Government iniutiative will see provision almost double for all three and four-year olds, and eligible two-year olds from next August.

That means significant changes are taking place at schools, nurseries, playgroups and childminders across the region to prepare for the roll-out of 1,140 hours fully funded childcare per year.

Councillors were briefed on the progress this week on the expansion in childcare, from 600 hours to 1140 hours, which follows legislation aimed at supporting children and families.

In Fife, this will provide children with high-quality early learning and childcare that can make a significant contribution to their development.

Work is underway extending or re-furbishing some existing nurseries, as well as creating new nursery provision.

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The number of private and voluntary sector nurseries and childminders coming into partnership with Fife Council continues to increase, offering more choice and flexibility to families.

The Early Years Apprenticeship Programme has helped recruit 160 officers since August 2016, with another 25 apprentices due to start next month.

Councillor Fay Sinclair, convener of the education and children’s services committee, said: “I’m pleased to hear that work is progressing and that we’re on track to be able to provide the increase in ELC, to 1,140 hours, for eligible children.

“We have mounting evidence that shows investment in early years plays a very important part in closing the attainment gap. An increase in the free hours available will give parents flexibility and access to high quality care for their children in a way that best suits their family.

“Along with this, the early intervention which we can provide can have a huge impact on future outcomes, benefitting all families with young children across the area.”

Councillors also agreed the adjustments needed to the ELC admissions policy to reflect the ‘funding following the child’ approach identified by the Scottish Government.

A range of provisions will be available, and parents will be able to apply for places that will support their family and childcare needs.

For the latest information go HERE or follow the Fife Families Information Service Facebook page – @fifefamilies.