Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald, has announced Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders will be the first three locations for Early Learning and Childcare expansion trials. The trials, which form part of the Scottish Government’s drive to increase the flexibility, quality and quantity of provision, will commence in January 2017 and will test out a variety of models including extended days and cover over the holiday period; ‘Stay and Play’ for two year olds, where parents are reluctant to leave their children, and improved access to outdoor learning.
Mr McDonald said: “High quality early learning and childcare plays a vital role in narrowing the attainment gap, that is why this Government has gone further than any other in our commitment to expanding free entitlement. But, the Scottish Government is not simply determined to increase the amount of early learning and childcare. We are also determined to deliver the flexibility that families need to make best use of high quality childcare.” Mr McDonald continued: “As highlighted in new research from Heriot-Watt University for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, quality childcare is a key contributor to reducing poverty and tackling inequality.”
Councillor Cammy Day, Education Children and Families Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “It’s important for children to experience a diverse education from an early age and the Forest Kindergarten trial project is a really innovative way of enriching their learning as research shows that education outdoors has a really beneficial impact on young people.”
In Edinburgh, Craigentinny and Ferryhill nurseries have been identified as potential settings. Around 10-12 children in each setting will receive the additional hours, accessing a half day within the nursery setting and then transported to a woodland site to access the additional hours.