The number of nursery inspections carried out by Scottish Government agency Education Scotland has fallen by one-third in the last five years, it has emerged.
Labour expressed alarm at the decline in the number of inspections, arguing they are essential to ensuring nurseries meet a high standard.
The reduction came to light in answer to a parliamentary question in which education secretary John Swinney admitted that the number of inspections fell from 201 in 2011 to 135 in the last year.
The estimate for 2016-17 also suggests that numbers will continue to fall, with projections for the current financial year at just 99 inspections. Labour estimates that if current rates continue, it would take more than 18 years for every nursery to be inspected by Education Scotland.
Labour’s education spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “These are worrying figures. Inspections in our nurseries should be regular and thorough because so much of the work we can do to cut the attainment gap between the richest and the rest can begin there.”
A Scottish Government spokewoman said: “Ensuring a high quality experience for children is the key objective.”