Early years education is being modernised across South Ayrshire
Plans to almost double access to free early learning and childcare in one early years centre in Prestwick have been agreed by South Ayrshire Council. The pilot project forms part of a modernisation package being put in place to recognise the changing face of pre-school education and the needs of modern families.
The Scottish Government announced in 2014 that they planned to extend the hours for free early learning and children care from 600 to 1,140 by the end of the current Parliament. To help prepare for this the Council is running a pilot project at the Space Place Early Years Centre in Prestwick from August 2016 to June 2017 where the new entitlement for additional hours will be offered on a trial basis.
The project will be open to children aged 3-5 who were registered at the centre before May 2016. To help meet expected demand two temporary posts will be created at the cost of £58,000 for one year. There will be no additional cost for families for the extra hours, and no requirement to take the offer up if it is not needed.
Douglas Hutchison, South Ayrshire Council's, Director of Educational Services, said the pilot would help with future planning, "The way our early learning and childcare is being delivered is changing and by adapting the way we work now we'll be well placed to provide a more flexible service to the local community."
"With a national move due to increase free early learning in the next few years we feel it's important to assess levels of uptake, hear feedback from the public, and consider how to efficiently roll out the service when the time comes.
"The Prestwick pilot is part of a wider modernisation programme being put in place to give children the best start in life, and by continuing to adopt new ways of working we'll be ahead of the curve in the provision of early years education."
Wider measures being introduced include: the renaming of all South Ayrshire Council's Nursery Schools as Early Years Centres, to recognise the wider work now undertaken with children; reclassifying Nursery Nurses as Early Years Practitioners to recognise their wider working roles; approval of new guidelines to allow parents to purchase additional hours beyond the 600 free hours they're entitled to; and to create two new Centre Manager roles at Wallacetown and Girvan Nurseries to allow the centres to open in the future outside of traditional term times.
The pilot project was outlined in South Ayrshire Council's paper on 14 June, 2016.