Argyll and Bute Council is making positive progress in preparing for the implementation of the fully funded 1140 hours of free Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) in Argyll and Bute by 2020.
At a meeting of the council’s Community Services Committee today (Thursday), members heard how 27 ELC services in Argyll and Bute are already providing parents and carers with the option to access the additional hours, which are funded by the Scottish Government.
Plans are also underway to phase all ELC local authority, partners and childminding services in Helensburgh and Lomond, Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and Campbeltown to 1140 hour provision by August this year.
In order to help address the need for the additional, qualified staff required for the extended ELC entitlement, the council’s Education Service and Learning and Development Team have been working in close partnership with Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
As a result, secondary school pupils across Argyll and Bute were offered a Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services Children and Young People (SSCYP). Six young people started this qualification in August 2018, with a further 12 anticipated to start this year.
SDS is also delivering six Modern Apprenticeships in SVQ3 (SSCYP), and funding has been provided by the Scottish Government for three Graduate Practitioner posts to help enhance literacy, numeracy and outdoor learning.
The council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “We are committed to improvement, and to ensuring that our children get the very best start in life.
"These increased hours will benefit children aged three and four, as well as eligible two years, and will provide high quality, flexible early learning and childcare for families.
“Juggling childcare and work commitments can be a difficult task for parents, but these increased hours will help to give them with the flexibility they need to work, train or study.
“We are making good progress in implementing these additional hours and I look forward to seeing the benefits that families experience as a result.”