Education bosses have confirmed Aberdeenshire Council’s commitment to delivering expanded early learning and childcare hours.
Aberdeenshire Council had begun a programme of works to ensure the region was ready to expand the funded early learning and childcare (ELC) hours to 1,140 from 600 by August.
However, the Scottish Government relaxed this statutory need, and no new date for when the hours should be available by has yet been set.
Some parents had raised concerns about the hours not being available, and questioned the local authority on its commitment to providing the extra funded places.
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Councillor Gillian Owen, chairwoman of the education and children’s services committee, addressed this during the live session yesterday.
She said: “We know many people were looking forward to the extended early learning and childcare provision that equates to 1,140 funded hours per year. We also know many are anxious to find out if they will still be able to access this.
“While the local authority had planned for the successful delivery of an increase to 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare for all three to five year olds by August this year, the statutory requirement for this was revoked by the Scottish Government.
“We are now considering a new timetable for the rollout of 1,140 extended early learning and childcare hours alongside national colleagues and will update parents as soon as we possibly can.
“We’ve written to all funded providers to explain our position and we will keep them fully informed.
“I’d like to emphasise we are committed to ensuring that the expansion will be delivered in full it’s just a matter of when and we will be developing a detailed implementation plan in consultation with the wide range of partners.
“We know everyone wants to know, but we’re just not quite there yet.”
She added that the coronavirus pandemic had meant time was lost in preparing some of the building projects, as well as funding that was set aside for the scheme being used to support key worker childcare hubs.