Aberdeen City Council to consult with parents and carers over Early Learning and Childcare expansion plans

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Aberdeen City Council will be consulting and engaging with parents, carers and prospective parents over the summer as the city gears up to deliver extended early learning and childcare entitlements.

An information document has been produced and distributed by the council’s Early Years’ team to brief and update parents on plans for the city-wide delivery of the Scottish Government’s proposed increase from 600 to 1140 hours in childcare and early learning provision in 2020.

The document also announces the various strands of the consultation which will include an online survey followed by a series of focus group meetings and parent and carer information evenings from September onwards. Information will also be shared regularly on a dedicated website, on social media and through partners, community groups, locality events and electronic events.

An Aberdeen City Council Guide to Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) for Parents and Carers will also be available from August.

Councillor John Wheeler, Education Operational Delivery Convener, said: “This an exciting time and we welcome the opportunity to expand funded early leaning and childcare services from 600 to 1140 hours per year by 2020. We recognise how the expansion of ELC can reduce the poverty-related attainment gap and improve long term outcomes for children and families.

“We have a programme of delivery in place. The Aberdeen City Council Early Learning and Childcare Delivery Plan places an emphasis on the provision of outdoor learning to support wellbeing, on accessibility to increase uptake, on delivery of family learning to meet the needs of families within each of our communities.

“It is vitally important that we involve parents and carers as much as possible and capture as many views as possible as we progress towards roll-out of the service expansion next year. That is why we have an extensive consultation and engagement programme in place for the coming months”.

Aberdeen City Council is adopting an area by area approach, prioritising the areas of greatest need and will adopt a flexible approach to the provision of expanded services to help ensure needs are met.

The settings will include council nurseries and associated sites, private funded providers and childminders. Among the suggested flexible models are a full day provision, a half day (morning or afternoon) offering or a blended approach of council and funded provider / childminder.

During the next school session 2019/20, the council’s Early Years team will be trialing increased hours in some of its ELC settings in the priority areas. This will include longer days, more flexible hours and split placements. In the eventuality of demand being greater than availability, eligibility criteria will be applied.

The trials will enable different models to be tested out and to identify the best working model for children and families in each locality.