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£500m funding for childcare expansion

Published: 25 Feb 2016 00:01
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Education

More than 40 new or expanded nurseries since 2014.

The Scottish Government has provided £500 million funding to local authorities since 2014 to expand free early learning and childcare, the Children's Minister Aileen Campbell will announce today (February 25, 2016).

In 2014 the Children and Young People Act expanded free early learning and childcare to 600 hours per year for all three and four year olds and around 27 per cent of two year olds. Since then, the Scottish Government has provided local authorities with the first three years of funding needed to achieve this.

Speaking at the early learning and childcare national summit, the Minister will also highlight that at least 46 nurseries have been built or expanded by local authorities to help accommodate these additional hours, flexibility and children.

Ms Campbell said:

"We know the early years are a crucial time in a child's development and evidence has shown access to quality early learning and childcare helps improve educational outcomes. That is why this government has increased free provision by 45 per cent since 2007, and why we have committed to go even further and expand the hours to 1,140 per year.

"We have committed to fully funding this expansion and I look forward to working with partners, including local authorities, to create a flexible system of high quality early learning and childcare that meets the needs of families.

"Local authorities and partner providers have worked hard since 2014 to deliver the additional hours and I'm delighted that we are seeing investment in new infrastructure to provide the best environment for children to learn in. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is getting to visit nurseries across Scotland and I've seen first-hand how new and innovative indoor and outdoor environments can support children's learning.

"We are pleased with the significant changes achieved in the challenging timescales set. It is absolutely vital that the full funding allocated by the Scottish Government is prioritised on this major transformation over the next parliament."

Notes to editors

The national summit was announced by the First Minister to bring together council leaders and directors of finance and education from every local authority to plan for the future expansion of early learning and childcare: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Poverty-advisor-report-published-217a.aspx

The Scottish Government expanded free early learning and childcare from 412 hours to 475 hours for all three and four year olds in 2007. Through the Children and Young People Act 2014, free provision was increased from 475 hours to 600 hours for all three and four year olds and 27 per cent of two year olds. This recent expansion has been fully funded by the Scottish Government through £500 million investment for financial years 2014-15, 2015-16 and allocations for 2016-17.

For more information on eligibility for free early learning and childcare visit www.earlylearningandchildcare.scot