FOUR dilapidated and crowded nurseries are to be revamped as part of a multi-million pound investment drive.
Leith and Ferryhill primaries, together with Tynecastle and Blackhall nurseries, have been lined up for the £4 million funding boost, which will see existing buildings replaced, improved or expanded.
The spending plans come after the annual free childcare entitlement for all three and four-year-olds, and vulnerable two-year-olds, was increased last year from 475 to 600 hours.
Scottish Government ministers have also provided nearly £10m to city education leaders to achieve the rise.
Teachers today welcomed news of the investment, which they said was sorely needed given the age of many nursery buildings.
Stella Brown, headteacher at Tynecastle Nursery, said: “The existing nursery was built in 1929 and has served the children and families of Gorgie and Dalry throughout the 20th century.
“It is now very exciting that the local community has an assured plan for a quality provision for the 21st century.
“The current building has stood the tests of time and served generations of local families well but it needs to be updated to create space and meet the requirements for working with younger children and providing support for parents.”
New blueprints have revealed replacement childcare space is to be built for Leith and Ferryhill primaries, and Tynecastle nursery.
Blackhall Nursery – which is voluntary and run by an independent management committee at Ravelston Park Pavilion – will receive around £15,000 for repairs and maintenance.
However, education bosses have decided against ploughing significant funds into major new facilities for Blackhall, with investment instead set to be focussed on financing a standalone nursery at nearby Ferryhill Primary.
Teachers said it would be crucial to strike a balance between providing high quality buildings with sufficient space and maintaining good outdoor play opportunities.
“A nursery for young children is about the whole environment, indoors and out,” said Ms Brown.
“The current site [at Tynecastle] is a very important green space where children play and learn outdoors, benefitting from fresh air and energetic play every day.
“In a city centre nursery, placing value on the improved building whilst maintaining the ‘oasis’ outdoors is vital.”
City bosses said the investment demonstrated their commitment to ensuring the best education outcomes for the Capital’s youngest children.
And they said they were hopeful that fresh funds would be made available in future for improvements at other nurseries.
Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “We really are prioritising younger children in Edinburgh.
“The really important thing in this is that we have a requirement to house eligible two-year-olds. These new nurseries will have space for these children. It shows we’re increasing provision and we’re targeting younger children across the board.”
He added: “We have a continuing commitment to prioritising early years. I’m hopeful there will be future funding rounds and that we’ll be looking at other nurseries to prioritise.”