Options for nursery provision in Aberdeen as part of a national early learning and childcare shake-up can today be revealed.
The early learning expansion will see some providers operating all year round – not just during term time.
The application process for Aberdeen City Council went live today as part of the scheme to boost the number of funded hours.
From August there will be an expansion of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) for all three and four-year-olds, as well as eligible two-year-olds.
Brought about under Scottish Government legislation, the new provision increases ELC funded hours from 600 to 1,140 per year.
To help boost availability, Aberdeen City Council has committed to building new nurseries and expanding and refurbishing more, including an outdoor learning centre in Duthie Park and Hazlehead Park.
Parents will be able to use the funded hours in a range of different way, including the options of full and part-time days.
Hours can also be used up to 50 weeks a year depending on the provider, and families can also split the placement of the hours.
They could be taken in full where longer hours are required or in a pattern to suit the needs of the family.
As a result, many nurseries across the city will be operating longer to accommodate the extra hours.
Anyone who wishes to access their funded provision from a provider such as an independent nursery, playgroup or childminder should contact the provider directly.
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John Wheeler, education operational delivery convener, said: “Our commitment to the expansion means that by August, all eligible children will have access to high quality learning experiences in the best settings while parents returning to work or further education will feel supported by this enhanced offering.
“Above all, however, this is about our children’s development through play, exploring and learning… and having fun!”
Children who are turning three are entitled to an ELC place for term one if their birthday falls within August to December, or term two if their birthday is between January and March and term three if their birthday falls between April and July.
Funded hours can be accessed at any provider that meets the national standard and has a place available, which is willing to enter into contract with the local authority.
These include council-run nurseries, private nurseries, playgroups, outdoor learning and childminder places.
Currently the 600 yearly funded hours is either five sessions a week in the morning or afternoon in a local authority setting.
The new provision will still provide five sessions but will see the hours increased.
For year-round nurseries children will attend for 46 weeks.
There will be a set period of closure for two weeks at Christmas, one week at Easter and two weeks in summer – the second and third week in July.
The five in-service days remain – so effectively the nurseries will be open for 47 weeks a year. However, children will only be in the nursery for 46 weeks.
The term-time service will run 38 weeks of the year.
Aberdeen City Council has said it is committed to delivering flexible models.
These include a full-day provision, for example 9am until 3pm during term time for five days, or 8am until 6pm for two and a half days for 46 weeks of the year.
Other models are a half-day provision, a long morning or afternoon, or a blended provision which could be a combination of council provider and childminder for example.
As a result, there may be different times available at different nurseries, as several options are given.
Each nursery will have different provisions available, and parents are urged to check what is available for them.
Childminders will receive the money for each funded place from the local authority, which will set the rate.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “As is the case for all providers delivering funded early learning and childcare from August, childminders will receive a sustainable hourly rate per child from their local authority.
“Councils are responsible for setting these rates, to reflect local circumstances.
“The longstanding legal position is that funded early learning and childcare must be delivered without the payment of fees, meaning it is unlawful for providers to charge parents and carers top-up fees for a child’s statutory early learning and childcare hours.
“Families may, of course, choose to purchase additional hours and services from ELC providers.”
For more information on the funded provision of ELC, visit bit.ly/36qoMPW
A range of focus groups are also being carried out by Aberdeen City Council at associated school groups (ASGs), the feeder primary schools for each academy, in order to discuss the upcoming changes.
Some have already taken place, however, there are six still to go ahead. These are taking place at Manor Park School community room for Northfield Academy ASG tonight, Bridge of Don Academy hall for Bridge of Don/Oldmachar academies tomorrow and St Machar hall for St Machar Academy ASG on Wednesday.
Others will take place on February 3, at Kirkhill Primary for Lochside Academy ASG, Kaimhill Primary dining hall for Harlaw Academy ASG on February 4 and Cults Primary dining hall for Cults Academy ASG on February 5.
All sessions are scheduled to run from 6.30-8pm.