East Ayrshire Council have outlined their priorities for their Early Learning and Childcare Plan 2022-24.

Council chiefs say it is a priority to ensure that the youngest learners have access to high quality and flexible educational opportunities.

This is despite education facing a £1.8m cut to accommodate £8m worth of savings needed due to the impact of Covid, skyrocketing energy prices and the overall cost-of-living crisis.

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The council’s capital investment programme along with the capital funding for ELC expansion has ensured that 1140 hours can be delivered in East Ayrshire by increasing capacity for funded ELC places for three and four year olds and eligible two year olds.

Future priorities also include the offer of funded ELC to one and two year olds.

1140 hours is the national entitlement in Scotland for all three and four to access free education.

EAC carried out its third statutory consultation on ELC provision with parents and carers in May and June 2022. 

The consultation sought views on the use of funded ELC, flexibility of funded ELC and the additional year of funded ELC for parents and carers who wish to defer the start of P1.

90.2 per cent of parents and carers were satisfied with the types of funded ELC providers available and many provided very positive comments about the quality of care, support and learning experiences for their children and the dedication of ELC staff.

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The children were also asked their view and their responses included "Nursery makes me happy" and "I get sad at home time", however feedback also included "I miss my mummy" and "I get tired sometimes and that makes me sad".

Councillor Elaine Cowan, Cabinet Spokesperson for Lifelong Learning, Education and Skills and Culture said: “Our council recognises the importance of Early Learning and Childcare for our children and their parents and carers and has prioritised the roll out of 1140 hours across East Ayrshire. 

"Evidence shows that attending Early Learning and Childcare improves children’s outcomes and helps close the poverty-related attainment gap; it increases family resilience through improved health and wellbeing of children and parents and carers and importantly, supports parents and carers into work, study or training.”