Babies and young children are enjoying an exciting new initiative designed to benefit their earliest days.
Falkirk Council recently unveiled the early years campus at Kinneil Primary School in Bo’ness.
Provost Pat Reid, Bo’ness Fair Queen Ellie Sneddon (12) and head teacher Paul Fleming were among the guests when the ribbon was cut, officially opening the campus that offers learning and support for infants aged from six weeks to five years, every week of the year.
Principal early years officer Karen O’Hara said: “We want the community to know that we are here and open. “This campus will become an important part of the town and we are hoping to work with businesses to offer the kids the best possible experience.”
The campus offers a flexible attendance pattern to meet the needs of parents in work or in further education.
Karen said: “The children can be here all day or half days, five days a week or just one. We cater to the needs of the parents.”
Free child care places are also available to two-year-old children from households that receive certain benefits.
Since October 2014, parents who qualify have been able to apply for their two-year-old to receive up to 600 hours of free child care and early learning.
To qualify, families must receive one of the following benefits: income support, job seekers allowance (income based), employment support and allowance (income based), incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance or pension credit.
Councillor Alan Nimmo, spokesman for education, said: “These places not only help with child development but also support parents on benefits as they try to get into employment.
“We have received a good response since the early learning places became available but we want every eligible two year old in the area to receive their entitlement.”
The Scottish Government extended the number of free hours for three and four-year-olds to 16 hours a week from 12.5 hours. The extra hours created a strain on the council nursery places and local authorities had to look at ways to create spaces so Falkirk council decided to increase early years education provision across the district
Kinneil Primary School utilised unused space to create room for the Early Years Campus. A building was refurbished and three rooms were built for the different age groups.
Karen said: “Walls were torn down and the building was completely turned around. It looks fantastic and the kids also have an outdoor play area and a garden to explore.”
The building is now home to the Discovery Room, for children up to two years old, the Explorer Room, for two to three-year-olds and the Inventors Room, for three to five-year-olds.
Following the curriculum for excellence for the three-to-fives and the pre-birth-to-threes learning model for the tiniest pupils, the campus aims to educate in a fun and in spirational way.
Karen said: “We focus on literacy, health and numeracy for the older ones but always try to keep it interesting and fun. For our younger children we learn through sensory play and look to build their ambition.
“We have plans to get the kids learning in a variety of ways, from cooking to massages to looking after their own garden.
“We welcome any local businesses that could help us so please get in touch.”
Applications forms are available at www.falkirk.gov.uk, from the school or from Children’s Services at Sealock House.
For more information phone the nursery on 01506 778362.