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Additional graduates for nurseries in most deprived areas.
Every nursery in Scotland's most deprived areas will have an additional qualified childcare graduate to work with children by 2018, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The new approach will begin now and will see 25,000 children benefit from more face to face time with graduates, helping them reach their full potential whatever their background.
The funding is designed to raise educational attainment, one of the First Minister's key priorities after she placed education at the heart of her Programme for Government.
Previous announcements include the £100 million Attainment Fund and the establishment of a new National Improvement Framework to monitor progress.
The First Minister said:
"Access to high quality early years education for children from deprived backgrounds is the most effective way to reduce the gap in attainment.
"We have already announced plans to double childcare provision to 30 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds. That's a commitment worth £4,500 a year for families.
"Nursery education is not just about helping parents back to work. It's about giving children the best start in life. That's why quality is so important.
"We intend to substantially increase the number of qualified graduates working in nurseries.
"Every nursery manager is already required to have a childcare degree, but we will go further. I can announce today - as a first step - that, by 2018, every nursery in our most deprived areas will have an additional qualified teacher or childcare graduate.
"Helping children reach their full potential whatever their background is my driving mission."
The First Minister also confirmed the Scottish Government will work to improve the flexibility of childcare.
She said she realised the importance of childcare and wanted to make sure parents had the ability to shape it to suit their family needs:
"Of course, childcare does also help parents. It helps mothers in particular get back to work.
"It's no coincidence that as we have expanded childcare, levels of female employment have risen.
"That's good for families as well as for our national prosperity. But we will do more.
"As we expand the hours that children are entitled to, we will also increase the flexibility of it.
"We will ensure that parents can opt to take their available hours of free childcare to better suit their working patterns. They will, increasingly, be able to take them as full day sessions as well as half days. And they will have the right to spread these hours over the summer holidays as well as term time."
More on the Programme for Government: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/A-stronger-Scotland-1c7c.aspx
More on the Attainment Scotland Fund: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Smart-money-on-attainment-15d2.aspx
The Scottish Government is investing around £329 million over two years to expand annual free early learning and childcare from 475 to 600 hours (almost 16 hours a week) for 3 & 4 year olds and to extend this entitlement to more vulnerable 2 year olds.