ALMOST half a million pounds is to be invested in early years centres and nurseries across the city over the next year.
Among the local authority’s plans to improve services for pre-school children is the relocation of Pilrig Child and Family Centre – which provides support to vulnerable children and their parents – to Craigentinny Primary School, as the current building is in need of substantial upgrading.
The centre would be set up alongside the existing pre-school nursery class, with the option of increasing the number of places for two to three-year-olds. Other plans include increasing staff levels and places for two to three-year-olds at Fort Early Years Centre, and opening an early years centre in the Clermiston/Drumbrae/East Craigs area.
The council also plans to offer an early years service at Oxgangs Primary School for families with children up to three, as well as opening a class for two to three-year-olds at Royal Mile Primary School and offering a year-round service for children aged three to five.
Councillors will be asked to give the plans the green light at the education, children and families committee meeting on Thursday – the first since the new Labour/SNP coalition council was formed.
City education leader Paul Godzik said: “Traditionally, the council has provided a service that has been for a certain point in the day and has not been delivered over the school holidays, and if you’re a working parent, that’s clearly a barrier.
“It’s about trying to make a more accessible, flexible service for working parents, and allowing them to take up council provision in the centres we run.”
Funding for the plans is provided by the Early Years Change Fund, which is funded by the council, Scottish Government and the NHS, as well as savings made following the closure of three city nurseries – Westfield Court Nursery, High School Yards and Princess Elizabeth.
The Government ratified the council’s decision to axe them, with a condition that any savings should be reinvested in early years provision.
In a written report to members of the education committee, the city council’s director of children and families, Gillian Tee, said: “Work is also under way to take forward the coalition commitment to establish a citywide childcare co-operative.”
The planned improvements
• Expansion of service provision at Fort Early Years Centre.
• Relocation of Pilrig Child and Family Centre to Craigentinny Primary.
• Open a class for two to three-year-olds at Royal Mile Primary School and make the three to five years class year-round.
• Provide a service for 0-three-year-olds at Oxgangs Primary School.
• Open an Early Years Centre in the Clermiston/Drumbrae/East Craigs area.