Early years can pave the way for a lifetime of achievement.- Joan Griffiths

Last week I was delighted to open one of our new state-of-the-art, early learning and childcare facilities in the city.

Seeing the joy on the faces of the youngsters as they interacted with the amazing team in the Granton centre drove home to me how important it is to provide the very best for our children from an early age.

This was one five new buildings - Craigentinny, Nether Currie, St John Vianney and St Mark’s are the others – which we have opened in recent months.

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It’s been a challenge getting to this landmark as the pandemic delayed the projects but we never gave up and now over 500 children are benefitting from these buildings.

All of them are designed on sector-leading research to support children’s learning and development and aim to be nurturing environments which are homely, inviting and calming.

The new settings helped us meet the additional 1140 hours funded early learning and childcare which was a huge undertaking. Thanks to our innovative planning we achieved it and praise must go to all the early years teams who supported us along the journey.

Our aims were underpinned by four key themes of quality, flexibility, accessibility and affordability, which helped us transform the early years learning and childcare landscape in Edinburgh.

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We’ve also been leading the way in Scotland in developing the very best for our children and our proactive approach has resulted in great links with partner providers and the Scottish Childminding Association.

One of the jewels in our early years crown are the amazing Forest Kindergartens which have been going from strength to strength since the first one opened in 2017. We now have 10 up and running around the city and are looking to open more as we reconnect children with the outdoors and all the benefits that brings.

There are 31 local authority settings open from 8am to 6pm all year round and our Early Learning and Childcare Academy is helping grow and develop our workforce by delivering training and upskilling staff.

All these projects demonstrate how much focus we are putting on the stages of a child’s learning.

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The earliest years of a child’s life have a significant impact on their long-term development and what they learn during this stage will have a lasting effect on them. If we get the early years right, we pave the way for a lifetime of achievement.

That’s why as a Council we will do everything we can to ensure our children get the best possible start in life on their journey to becoming successful learners and confident individuals.

Cllr Joan Griffiths is Education, Children and Families Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council