West Lothian Council is on track to meet demands by the Scottish Government to provide 1140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) by August.
In a report to the council’s education executive officers outlined progress including increased recruitment, higher wages and more ELC centres. By 2022 the Scottish Government will have given West Lothian just over £17 million since 2017 to increase childcare in the area.
A report said the second phase of the new scheme was now complete. “All 61 council run ELC settings within West Lothian now provide increased hours of free high quality ELC either up to 760 hours or 1000 hours for parents/carers with effect from August 2019.”
Other options of placement for the 2019/20 session include: up to 1000 hours with a partner provider (private nursery, playgroup or family centre); 1140 hours with a registered childminder as part a pilot scheme being offered in partnership with the Scottish Childminder Association (SCMA).
The extended opening hours in ELCs from August has resulted in an increase in staffing across all council ELC settings, from 293 full time equivalent posts (FTE) in 18/19 to 436 FTE in 19/20.
There has been no recruitment issues, with recruitment to specific posts and the supply register continuing throughout the year.
In January 2019, ten new management posts were appointed in order to support the headteacher and staff in each setting based on a geographic area.
It is proposed to appoint an additional seven posts from January 2020 to support the increased number of settings open for 50 weeks per. The Early Years Development team based in the Civic Centre has also increased to cope with the increased workload with the additional of 2.4 FTE to support partner providers, childminders, Regional Improvement Collaborate and additional support needs.