Angus Council is committed to delivering on its offer of up to 1140 hours a year of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) to all eligible children in Angus from August 2020.
This is despite the significant restrictions created by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, not least the suspension of a number of construction projects.
Convener of Children and Learning, Cllr Derek Wann said: “The ELC application window closes on Friday 24 April. After that, the number of applications for each location will be fully considered and, where necessary, appropriate alternative arrangements put in place.
“Parents and carers across these locations will be contacted before the summer and can be assured that the council’s principle aim of providing high quality ELC to all children will be at the forefront of our planning.”
In contrast to primary schools, which have one intake of new P1 children in August, the applications in ELC are spread across the school year with four intake dates in August, October, January and April.
Those suspended construction projects are essential to meet the accumulating demand throughout the school year, but it is anticipated that initial applications for August in most areas can be met from within existing school provision and through a new and expanded framework of ELC partner providers.
Angus Council has invested heavily in its relationships with trusted providers in the private and voluntary sectors over many years. More recently, the Council has worked to develop relationships with local childminders – a key strand of the Scottish Government’s plan to expand funded ELC provision in Scotland.
As a result, from August a total of 63 private nurseries, playgroups and childminders will offer funded ELC in partnership with the council, more than double the number of providers available at present. All providers offering funded ELC will meet the same quality standard, agreed nationally.
More than half of the essential building projects had been completed in Angus prior to the decision to suspend works nationally in March as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
This means that the planned expansion of hours can continue unaffected in the Arbroath, Kirriemuir and Monifieth localities. In the Brechin and Forfar areas, the existing range of funded providers, including schools, will be able to accommodate all initial applicants while construction work is completed on essential projects.
In some other areas, there may be a need to arrange temporary alternative accommodation. In Carnoustie, the delayed completion of the new ELC Centre will likely mean that temporary alternatives are required from August. The same may apply for some applicants to school nurseries in Montrose and Birkhill as result of large expansion projects currently being on hold in these schools.
Cllr Wann said: “Angus Council firmly believes that during a time of increased and unexpected financial stress and concern about the future, it is more important than ever for families to be able to plan ahead, confident that they will not have additional financial concerns regarding childcare in the new school year.
“We are proud to be able to continue with our offer of expanded ELC provision and would ask families to bear with us while we create the best possible solutions for affected areas.”
The Special Education Committee meeting will be held remotely at 2pm on Thursday 23 April.