Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has today called on the Scottish Government to step in to provide additional funds to help councils deliver the planned increase in free early learning and childcare hours in the event that movement restrictions are lifted by then. The call comes as some councils announce their new plans for the autumn.
Many private nurseries are closed because of the virus and are struggling financially. Councils are permitted to use the expansion funds for key worker early learning and childcare arrangements during the virus and will therefore need additional support to fund the expanded hours in the autumn.
Ms Wishart said:
"Many young children have lost out on important early years education as a result of the virus and I don’t want them to lose out any more in these precious early years. That's why we need to move ahead with the roll out of the expanded free hours this autumn if logistically possible.
“Liberal Democrats have been strong supporters of early years education as it provides for the best start in life and improves life chances, so we are eager to make up for lost time.
“Some construction and renovation work for nursery buildings has been delayed because of the virus so that will result in delays, but the expanded hours should proceed where the buildings are ready. I am pleased that some councils have announced already where they are expanding the hours but it is important that children in every part of the country are given the opportunity.
“The councils will need additional funds to make this work. Private nurseries who have closed during the virus will be struggling so will need support too. I urge the Education Secretary and Finance Secretary to come together to resolve this issue and allow the provision of expanded hours to go ahead where it is safe to do so.”