Proposals to build four new Early Learning and Childcare Centres and carry out major extensions at three existing centres have been announced by Renfrewshire Council.
The council has submitted planning applications for new centres in Dargavel, Houston, Lochfield in Paisley and Kirklandneuk in Renfrew.
Plans to carry out major extensions at St Margaret’s Early Learning and Childcare Centre in Johnstone and Kilbarchan Community Nursery have also been submitted, alongside proposals to create a bespoke centre for Inchinnan Community Nursery at Inchinnan Primary.
Photo: Nursery pupils at St Catherine’s
The projects are part of a £14million extension and refurbishment programme to support the expansion of nursery provision in Renfrewshire. It will also help the council meet the Scottish Government’s target of 1140 fully-funded hours of early learning and childcare for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds by August 2020.
In 2019, Renfrewshire became the first local authority in Scotland to be rated ‘excellent’ by Education Scotland for its efforts to close the poverty-related attainment gap. The expansion to early learning and childcare is expected to support much of that work.
If the planning applications are approved, work on the new-build centres will begin in January 2020, and the major extensions in March 2020.
Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader and Convener of Education and Children’s Services, Jim Paterson, said: “These new centres and major extensions will ensure we are able to continue providing young children with the best possible start in life once the new expanded 1140 hours are introduced in August 2020.
“We are committed to providing the best learning environments for young children and are driven to maintain quality across all early learning and childcare centres and classes. The work we are proposing will support this, creating bespoke centres and facilities that will help young children in Renfrewshire thrive for years to come.”
The council launched a recruitment drive to support its 1140 Early Learning and Childcare expansion plans in April 2019, with a range of posts set to be advertised before the new expanded hours are introduced in August 2020.
Parents of three and four-year-olds and some eligible two-year-olds will see the number of free early learning and childcare hours they receive increase from 600 to 1140 in August 2020. Ahead of that deadline, eligible children will be offered 1140 ELC where there is space to do so. Parents wishing more information should speak to their local nursery.
The expansion will give parents more flexibility in their choice of nursery and childcare services, meaning they can choose from council, private and volunteer-run nursery classes, centres and childminding. They will also have plenty of choice when accessing their child’s entitlement, including options for 8am-6pm over 50 weeks, mornings or afternoons over 45 weeks, or 6 hours per day over the school year, as well as being able to select their preferred options of nursery or childminding sessions.
There will also be an increase in the number of places commissioned from funded independent and private nurseries.
Children attending a Council or funded private or voluntary nursery centres or classes during lunchtime will also be entitled to a free meal.
Parents and carers should continue to apply to their local nursery for a place for their child. When centres and classes have the capacity to accommodate 1140 hours before August 2020, parents will be contacted directly and asked to select their preferred option.
For more information on 1140 Early Learning and Childcare and our expansion plans, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/1140ELC.