Building work for new early learning and childcare provision continues

The construction works for 27 upgraded or new buildings to support additional early learning and childcare (ELC) provision is continuing at a good pace, a committee heard today.

Members of the City Council’s capital committee were told there had been delays due to the first coronavirus lockdown. However, the Scottish Government deadline for being able to provide the expanded ELC provision was changed from August 2020 to August 2021 due to delays nationally caused by the first lockdown.

A report to committee said since Aberdeen City Council moved into Tier 4 restrictions as with the rest of mainland Scotland, works onsite have continue following a review of health and safety measures and in compliance with Scottish Government guidance.

Aberdeen City Council capital committee convener Councillor Marie Boulton said: “It is great to see the building works for the new ELC provision are continuing at a good pace.

“The new centres will be high quality facilities which will provide high quality family learning, outdoor learning, and a localised offer to benefit local communities.

“Our thanks go to all the teams and contractors involved as there has been considerable changes due to coronavirus.”

The report to committee said design team and main contractor continue to evaluate the impact on the programme of Government guidance and the requirement to comply with physical distancing measures.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, work has continued behind the scenes with Aberdeen City Council officers preparing for the reinstatement of the extended ELC provision.

The City Council’s £23 million building programme will see 27 new or upgraded local authority nurseries across the city to cater for the enhanced provision including two new innovative outdoor learning settings at Hazlehead Park and Duthie Park.

By August 2021, all local authorities in Scotland will have duty to provide 1,140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare for eligible two-year olds and all three and four year olds. The current number of hours is 600. The expansion should prioritise a high-quality experience for the child to capitalise on the significant contribution that Early Learning and Childcare can make to a child’s development and to closing the poverty related attainment gap.

All local authorities were asked to develop an Early Learning and Childcare delivery plan to guide expansion plans. The Aberdeen City Council plan highlights a focus on the provision of outdoor learning to support wellbeing, on accessibility to increase uptake, on delivery of family learning to fully capitalise on the expansion programme, and on the provision of a ‘localised offer’ to meet the needs of families within each community.