More than 2,200 young children in Perthshire and Kinross are being provided with additional time at nursery.
Despite the Scottish Government requirement for expansion of free early learning and childcare to 1,140 hours being delayed, Perth and Kinross Council said it was making very good progress in implementing the extra hours.
Some 50 local authority nurseries in the area are already able to deliver the longer sessions, with the number of children in them up from 578 last year to up to 2,205 from this academic year.
It is hoped that eligible children – all three and four-year-olds and some two-year-olds – will be offered the full entitlement in the coming months.
Across Scotland nursery entitlement is being increased from 600 hours a year to 1,140 hours, but the government’s August 2020 deadline was ditched in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Local authorities, including Perth and Kinross, had to halt some construction projects to extend, alter and build new nurseries, but are pressing ahead with rolling out the enhanced offering to families.
Perth and Kinross councillors will be given an update on progress when the lifelong learning committee meets on Wednesday.
Committee convener Caroline Shiers said: “From the outset, we have sought to plan thoroughly and effectively for delivering increased early learning and childcare provision in Perth and Kinross.
“The update before the committee reflects the very wide-ranging work undertaken to achieve this, and the positive impact that this has had on access to high-quality, affordable early learning and childcare, even with the added complexities of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am confident that, together with our funded provider partners, we are in a solid position to move on to full entitlement in the months ahead.”
The enhanced provision is being made at council-run nurseries and with funded providers, including private nurseries and childminders. A variety of different sessions are offered to families.
I am confident that, together with our funded provider partners, we are in a solid position to move on to full entitlement in the months ahead.”
Councillor Caroline Shiers
Infrastructure works were delayed by the pandemic at Coupar Angus, Inchture, Letham, Longforgan, Oakbank, Newhill, Rattray and St Ninian’s primary schools but once they are complete they will provide a further 285 places.
Work has been completed at Blair Atholl, City of Perth Early Childhood Centre, Crieff, Glenlyon, Kirkmichael, Murthly and Royal School of Dunkeld.
It also started in the summer at Logierait, and outdoor provision is being created at Goodlyburn and Robert Douglas Memorial primary schools.