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Aberdeenshire Council updates on the status of 1140 early learning and childcare provision

By David Porter

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Before the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic became clear a couple of weeks ago, Audit Scotland confirmed that the Scottish Government was on track to deliver 1140 hours of early learning and childcare from August 2020.

Aberdeenshire Council has given an update on early years provision
Aberdeenshire Council has given an update on early years provision

Local authorities have already built or refurbished hundreds of buildings and recruited thousands of additional staff and in excess of 50,000 children were already receiving more than the current entitlement of 600 hours.

However, in these exceptional circumstances the Scottish Government has said it is not realistic or reasonable to expect that local authorities can deliver their original expansion plans to secure high quality experience for all children in time for August this year.

As a result, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it impossible to continue with the planned recruitment and infrastructure projects required to support expansion.

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council explained: "In terms of what that means for children and families in Aberdeenshire, the answer that we are not able to provide is when our schools and settings will reopen.

"Until we know that - and the long-term implications of the pandemic - we will not be able to say precisely when children will be able to access their 1140 hours.

"Aberdeenshire Council has already been delivering 1140 hours in 178 settings, including day care, childminders, playgroups and schools and when these settings reopen, they will continue to offer 1140 hours.

"Settings which were due to start delivering 1140 hours by August may still be able to do so and the early years team will be working with staff from these settings over the coming weeks and months to plan their next steps.

"We would ask that our communities bear with us as this 1140 planning work is being done in parallel to our current focus of ensuring that we have emergency childcare in place to support our key workers.

"This has to be the highest priority in fighting coronavirus and keeping us all safe and well."

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