Families in Orkney are being encouraged to enrol their children for fully funded early learning and childcare ahead of a major expansion this summer.
The Scottish Government has given a commitment that from August, all three and four-year-olds, and a number of eligible two-year-olds, will be entitled to 1140 hours of early learning and childcare free of charge.
This is almost double the current yearly entitlement of 600 hours.
In Orkney, enrolment will take place during the week beginning Monday 20 January, slightly earlier than in previous years – with families able to choose how many hours they require for their children.
Information about the options available are available here and in the Public Notices section of The Orcadian on Thursday January 16 – along with contact details so parents and carers can get in touch with their nearest nursery or childcare provider to enrol their children.
OIC’s Head of Education, Peter Diamond, said: “With support from the Government, we will meet the requirement from local families for their expanded entitlement to early learning and childcare.
“We are aware that not all families will want to use all of the hours available to them – but to help us assess numbers of children, and hours required, we are encouraging parents and carers to enrol as soon as possible from January 20.”
Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “If you have a child who will be two, three or four, now is the time to see what they could receive from this August.
"Early learning and childcare helps to boost children’s confidence and communication skills, alongside access to more opportunities such as outdoor learning. It also enables mums and dads to get back into, or spend more time, studying, working or training.
“There is no cost to families who take up this offer, so the 1140 hours can save each family as much as £4,500.”
Taken over the school year, 1140 hours amounts to 30 hours per week. This will be provided during the school day in term time at smaller nurseries.
In larger primary schools, Dounby, Glaitness, Papdale, Stromness and St Andrews, the nurseries will be open from 08:30 to 17:00 or 17:30 depending on demand.
It is intended that the larger nurseries will operate 47 weeks of the year and provide early learning and childcare during the school holidays, again depending on demand.
For further information please contact the Council on 01856873535 extension 3204 or by email.
In order to provide the near doubling of entitlement, OIC will be recruiting more nursery staff, both qualified Early Years Practitioners and unqualified trainees, including modern apprenticeships.
These jobs will be advertised in the Orcadian and via the myjobscotland website in the coming months.
If you are interested in working in our nurseries and would like to find out more, please phone Karen Walter or Catherine Diamond on 01856873535 extension 3204 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
If you are considering a career change, or a return to the early years’ workforce, evening information sessions will be run from 19:00 to 21:00 on Wednesday 29 January, Wednesday 5 February, Tuesday 11 February, Wednesday 26 February and Wednesday 4 March.
These will take at Keelylang, Pickaquoy Road, Kirkwall (to the rear of Glaitness school).
If you are interested and would like to book a place or find out more please contact Catherine Diamond on 873535 extension 3204 or by email.