Plans have been lodged for a massive expansion of a Perth nursery as the council prepares for extra free early learning.
From August 2020, three and four year olds will have 1140 hours of free education, almost double the current 600 hours.
As part of work to prepare for the influx of youngsters, Perth and Kinross Council will extend the nursery at Letham Primary School to accommodate more than 100 pupils at a time.
A planning application submitted by the council said: “As part of a programme to enable this [increased] level of childcare to be provided, education and children’s services have identified Letham Primary as one of several schools which will be extended and altered, in this case allowing 116 children to be accommodated in the nursery at any one time.
“In order to facilitate this enhanced provision, major alterations and an extension are planned to the existing nursery.
“The proposed nursery is a facility that will undoubtedly benefit the community and create additional outdoor usable space from the grassed area between the existing security fence and Struan Road, a space that is currently underutilised.”
As well as extending the building, the work will see a dedicated access created for the nursery, allowing it to be open outwith school hours.
Five drop-off parking spaces will also be made exclusively for parents of nursery pupils.
The extension will be paid for with funding given by the Scottish Government
The application was welcomed by the council’s lifelong learning convener, Caroline Shiers.
She said: “Planning permission is being sought to enhance and enlarge the nursery facilities at Letham Primary School as part of the increase in funded nursery hours which come into place from August 2020.
“Funding for the nursery building is part of the allocation of capital funding for the expansion of early years and childcare in Perth and Kinross from the Scottish Government.
“This is an exciting project which will help make sure that through the combination of private provider nurseries, childminders and this expanded nursery, families in north Perth will have choices to ensure that they can access funded nursery places for three and four year olds in the way which best suits their individual needs.”
As well as nurseries in schools, the council works with 36 partners to provide nurseries, which will be increased to accommodate the increased hours.
Children at nursery for a whole day will get a free meal and a “family mealtime” approach encouraging children to eat and chat together is being trialled.
Councillor Shiers said: “The feedback from the children, staff, parents and carers to date has been fantastic.
“Children are sitting down together at lunch and experience a family meal type environment, they are trying new foods and parents are reporting back that the children are also eating better at home and open to trying foods that they would never have expected.”