Major £5.2m revamp for ageing city nurseries

An artist's impression of the new Duddingston nursery. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of the new Duddingston nursery. Picture: comp
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Four ageing nurseries are to be rebuilt as state-of-the-art learning centres in a £5.2 million upgrade.

Nurseries at Longstone, Corstorphine and Davidson’s Mains primaries, and Granton Early Years, will be completely replaced, while an already approved new facility at 
St John’s RC Primary is set for further expansion.

The revamp – funded thanks to a £7.5m cash boost from the Scottish Government – will help ensure the city meets a national pledge to boost free annual nursery provision for all three and four-year-olds from 475 to 600 hours.

Plans for larger buildings mean around 140 morning and afternoon places will be created once the new nurseries are open, with an additional 50 spots provided for two-year-olds.

Education bosses said the proposed works were part of a city-wide commitment to the very best early years childcare, adding that efforts were under way to locate opportunities for future upgrades in high demand areas such as Gorgie and Stenhouse.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “There are a number of nurseries across the school estate that are being provided in temporary accommodation.

“We have the opportunity here to make substantial improvements in our early years estate, with early years a real priority at this moment in time.

“It’s absolutely right that we focus on early years to ensure that there’s a good learning environment for every child in a nursery class.”

Among the most ambitious projects is proposed construction work at Granton Early Years centre, where a brand new nursery will offer 80 morning and afternoon spots.

The nursery at Davidson’s Mains Primary School is also in line for major expansion, with replacement facilities providing 40 extra places, as well as space for 15 two-year-olds.

Carole Fisher, outgoing parent council chair at Duddingston Primary, where dilapidated nursery rooms are set to be replaced under existing plans, said: “It’s very positive – parents are normally being told about budget cuts and schools closing. The council needs to realise it has to invest in kids’ education and get a better outcome for them.”

Scottish Government ministers said proposals for new nurseries were proof of their determination to provide learning and childcare matching the best in Europe.

A spokesman said: “We have been working closely with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and local authorities to expand annual funded provision for three and four-year-olds to almost 16 hours a week and to extend this to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds over the next two years.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com