“Excellent progress” being made in West Lothian to meet new childcare target

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The council says “excellent progress” is being made to ensure every eligible child in West Lothian receives 1,140 hours of free high-quality Early Years Childcare per year from August 2020.

The Education Executive received an update last week, which showed that West Lothian is on track to have facilities and staff in place to provide increased hours in all 61 council- run Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) establishments.

Parents/carers can also choose a funded placement with a private partner provider, playgroup, family centre or a childminder based in West Lothian.

A pilot of free school meal ‘Marvellous Meals’ is planned in the summer term in four ELCs to give children access to a free nutritious meal, ahead of all ELC children receiving free school meals from August 2020.

Executive councillor for education David Dodds said: “We are delighted that everything is in place to ensure all eligible children in West Lothian will have access to 1,140 hours of free high-quality Early Years Childcare per year from August 2020. It’s important to give our children the best start in life, and these extra hours of free high quality childcare will both help their development and support working parents.”

The number of ELC staff employed by the council rose from 293 in 2018/19 to 436 in 2019/20 to provide the increased hours and flexibility with many nurseries now open from 8am until 6pm, 50 week per year.

There have been “no significant issues” with recruiting additional staff to date, with work taking place with West Lothian College to ensure a supply of trained staff.