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Early learning and childcare expanding this summer

Early learning and childcare in Orkney will undergo a major expansion this summer, as youngsters become entitled to more hours of care. 

The Scottish Government has given a commitment that from August, all three and four-year-olds, and a number of eligible two-year-olds, will be entitled to 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare free of charge. This is almost double the current yearly entitlement of 600 hours.

In preparation families in Orkney are being encouraged to enrol their children for fully funded early learning and childcare ahead of time.

Enrolment in the county will take place during the week beginning Monday, January 20, with families able to choose how many hours they require for their children.

OIC’s head of education, Peter Diamond, said: “With support from the Government, we will meet the requirement from local families for their expanded entitlement to early learning and childcare.

“We are aware that not all families will want to use all of the hours available to them, but to help us assess numbers of children, and hours required, we are encouraging parents and carers to enrol as soon as possible from January 20.”

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “If you have a child who will be two, three or four, now is the time to see what they could receive from this August.

“Early learning and childcare helps to boost children’s confidence and communication skills, alongside access to more opportunities such as outdoor learning. It also enables mums and dads to get back into, or spend more time, studying, working or training.

“There is no cost to families who take up this offer, so the 1,140 hours can save each family as much as £4,500.”

Taken over the school year, 1,140 hours amounts to 30 hours per week.

These hours will be provided during the school day in term time at smaller nurseries. While in larger primary schools — such as Dounby, Glaitness, Papdale, Stromness and St Andrews — the nurseries will be open from 8.30pm to 5pm or 5.30pm depending on demand.

It is intended that the larger nurseries will operate 47 weeks of the year and provide early learning and childcare during the school holidays dependant on demand.

Information about the options available are available from www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/P/Early-Learning-and-Childcare.htm and in the public notices section of this week’s The Orcadian — along with contact details so parents and carers can get in touch with their nearest nursery or childcare provider to enrol their children.

For further information please contact the council on 873535 extension 3204 or by email to ELC@orkney.gov.uk

In order to provide the near doubling of entitlement, OIC will be recruiting more nursery staff, both qualified Early Years Practitioners and unqualified trainees, including modern apprenticeships. These jobs will be advertised in the coming months.

If you are interested in working at a nursery and would like to find out more, please phone Karen Walter or Catherine Diamond on 873535 extension 3204 or by email to karen.walter@orkney.gov.uk or catherine.diamond@glow.orkneyschools.org.uk

If you are considering a career change, or a return to the early years’ workforce, evening information sessions will be run from 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday, January 29; Wednesday, February 5; Tuesday, February 11; Wednesday, February 26 and Wednesday, March 4.

These will take place at Keelylang, Pickaquoy Road, Kirkwall (to the rear of Glaitness Primary School).

If you are interested in these information sessions and would like to book a place or find out more please contact Catherine Diamond on 873535 extension 3204 or at catherine.diamond@glow.orkneyschools.org.uk

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