Covid-19 hits West Lothian nursery hours roll out plan

West Lothian Council’s Education Executive was given an update on the local Early Learning and Childcare Expansion plan this week.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 7:05 am
Councillor David Dodds.

The local plan was originally created to enable the expansion of early learning and childcare from 600 to 1140 hours from August 2020, with all Scottish councils. The increase in hours could only be undertaken following a significant investment programme to increase capacity and staffing resource at various locations including; recruiting nursery and catering staff, appointing partner providers, installing new and refurbished nursery facilities and additional catering facilities.

The council has recruited over 200 (full time equivalent) members of staff and a programme of new build, refurbishment and extensions to nurseries is well underway.

Up to March 2020, the phased implementation on increased hours was progressing well across West Lothian. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government suspended requirement for local authorities across Scotland to provide 1140 hours from August 2020 with funding used to support emergency childcare for vulnerable children and keyworkers during lockdown.

No future date for implementation has been given yet but this will be reviewed in December 2020 and councils will be given six months’ notice on the new implementation date.

Currently, the council is providing up to 1000 hours per annum (20 hours per week) between 8-6 Monday to Thursday, providing the choice of morning, afternoon or full day sessions across 50 weeks per year across council settings and private partner providers.

Executive councillor for Education David Dodds said: “Across Scotland the Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on the delivery of services. Despite this, progress continues to be made and there’s a huge amount of work going on to ensure that the full 1140 hours can be delivered as soon as possible with West Lothian.

“It is now necessary to build in more time to undertake the building works required to provide additional free school meal provision, recruit more staff to serve and produce school meals, and complete construction work on new nurseries and extensions to provide flexibility and choice for parents and carers.

“It is anticipated that the full 1140 hours will be available across West Lothian from August 2021.”