Nursery expansion close to finish line
A massive expansion in Falkirk’s early years service is close to the finishing line, councillors have heard.
With both Borrowstoun Early Learning & Childcare Centre (ELCC) and Carron Primary ELCC now having opened, there are just six nurseries still to be completed.
By the end of this year, another four will also be ready: Carronshore Primary, Woodburn ELCC in Falkirk, Woodlands Nursery ELCC in Callendar Park and Glendevon ELCC in Maddiston.
Work has now started on Denny Primary’s nursery with a target date of Easter next year, while Inchclair ELCC should be open by the end of January 2022.
Since August all children aged three and four in Falkirk district – and some two-year-olds – have been offered 1140 hours of nursery education, almost double what had been available before.
The huge project, fully funded by the Scottish Government, had to extend almost all of the district’s nurseries in order to create enough space as well as working with some private nurseries and childminders in a bid to give children more time in nursery and their parents more flexibility.
Members of the education, children and young people executive also heard that after talking to parents about how the new hours had been working for people, some changes to the admissions policy were being proposed.
These are that children with a sibling already attending their preferred nursery will now be prioritised for a place in the same establishment, while children with ASN or affected by ASN will also be considered a priority.
In addition, all ELCCs have been aligned with local primary schools within their Wards to allow a priority to be given to children who would have been within the catchment of the nursery class prior to these becoming ELC centres.
They also promised to provide greater clarity to parents when split placements are in place.
All of the changes were agreed by the committee.
Councillor Adanna McCue, the education spokesperson, said: “We’re almost there and what a journey we’ve been on!
“I cannot fault the dedication our staff have shown to get these projects open and to get them across the line for our children and their families – so, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been involved and continues to be involved.
“Not only were we working on getting these projects open as quickly as possible, we have reshaped the learning experience for our children and their families.”
The committee also heard that there has been an increase in the number of two-year-olds who are eligible for a place.
Falkirk Council is already offering places to two-year-olds whose parents are care experienced, making them well ahead of the Scottish Government’s request for this to happen.
However, rising numbers of people on benefits mean there is also an increasing number of families who qualify for a place for their two-year-old.
Councillors heard a further 10 places are now being provided at Nethermains ELCC in Denny in addition those already offered at Borrowstoun and Langlees.
The education team will continue to look at how to redistribute staff so that all those eligible can be accommodated.