A construction programme is under way at schools across the north-east which will see new nurseries built to meet ambitious childcare targets.
The Scottish Government has committed councils to doubling the amount of free hours available for three and four-year-olds from 600 to 1,140 hours by 2020.
They have provided local authorities across Scotland with revenue funding of an additional £567 million per year by 2021-22, the first full financial year of the expansion.
Councils will also receive total capital funding of £476m over four years to support buildings projects to create new indoor and outdoor capacity to deliver the expansion.
Plans have been submitted for a new nursery to be built at Kingsford School in Sheddocksley and major expansion plans have also been announced for Tullos Primary School in Aberdeen.
Works have already begun to increase capacity at Westhill Primary School and to improve facilities at Elrick School, ahead of the increase in hours being introduced.
Meanwhile, a new-build nursery is expected to open at Gordon Primary School in Huntly in spring next year and Portlethen Primary School is due to have its refurbished and expanded nursery open next month.
Other new-build early learning and childcare facilities will also be created in Peterhead, Portlethen and Insch, and work is already under way on the kitchen in Ellon Primary School.
A new school staff room, learning plaza and staff toilets will be created at Westhill Primary along with a kitchen, extension to the existing toilets and a new large open play room.
At Elrick, vinyl flooring will be laid in the playroom to improve flexibility with the floor space available, nappy changing facilities will be built and an upgrade to toilets.
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “A construction programme is under way across Aberdeenshire and will continue throughout next year.
“It will include new-build early learning and childcare provision in Peterhead, Portlethen and Insch, alongside a number of refurbishment projects, with major projects already under way in Ellon and Westhill.
“It is anticipated that a new nursery at Gordon Primary School will be complete and operational in spring next year and a refurbishment and expansion to the nursery provision at Portlethen Primary School is due to be complete next month.”
The Evening Express previously revealed that school extensions could also be built at schools across both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and certain modifications, including new kitchens, created to accommodate the increase in childcare hours.
By offering more free childcare, Holyrood hopes parents will find it easier to work or study, but concerns have been raised among education bosses that targets are “too ambitious”.
In the city alone, officers estimated an extra 300 practitioners could be required to work in nurseries to cover the additional time children will be in their care.
However, Councillor Gillian Owen, chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s education and children’s services committee, said the local authority was “well on track” to complete the roll-out of additional hours.
The council has already started rolling out expanded hours in some pilot areas, with feedback that it is working well.