Proposals to deliver almost double the amount of free early learning and childcare have been approved by South Ayrshire Council and will now go to the Scottish Government for consideration.
If agreed, South Ayrshire could see hundreds of new jobs created in the sector alongside significant investment in early learning facilities.
An existing Scottish Government policy will raise early learning and childcare entitlement from 600 hours to 1140 hours a year by 2020 for all three and four year olds, and for eligible two year olds. The overall objectives are to improve outcomes for children, maintain high quality early learning and childcare provision, and to provide more flexibility for parents who wish to work, train or study.
To help meet the national target, South Ayrshire Council has identified what additional resources it expects will be required to deliver the policy in full. A bid has been submitted to the Scottish Government to secure an additional £28 million to help pay for an anticipated programme of extensions and new builds. Should the proposals be accepted, it’s expected that more than 300 new staff would need to be employed to help service the forecast rise in demand.
Councillor William Grant, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning said the proposals would soon transform the sector, “We’re committed to delivering a service that satisfies the national policy and provides high quality early learning and childcare for our parents and carers.
“This is a major piece of work that will enhance the high standards families already enjoy, while also delivering a significant change to overall provision that will leave a lasting legacy.
“We’ll now work closely with colleagues at the Scottish Government who will be considering similar bids from across the country, with their feedback helping to shape the future provision of early learning and childcare in South Ayrshire.”
The new national entitlement will be phased in over a three-year period with the full programme scheduled to be operational by August 2020.
The proposals will now be submitted to the Scottish Government who will consider the case for additional funding.