Nursery shake-up set to cause heartache

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CUTBACKS to nursery provision will affect parents across East Dunbartonshire and beyond, it is feared.

The council has announced it is now unable to fund any further places in its partner private and voluntary nurseries because of “budget constraints”.

Parents who previously registered their children HAVE been allocated places in a local authority or partner nursery.

But from now on, any parent wanting to put their child in a private or voluntary facility, change to another provider or increase hours, won’t be able to – until next year’s budget is considered at least.

Instead parents will be offered places in a council-run nursery.

All children in Scotland over the age of three are entitled to 12.5 free hours at a nursery each week, paid for by the Scottish Government to local authorities.

However, the money given to the council is not ring-fenced, meaning it doesn’t have to allocate it all to pre-school education.

This year, the council has pledged £1,316,845 to partnership centres.

Mum Aileen O’Donnell, from Bishopbriggs, says parents are worried.

She said: “They are being forced to select nurseries which can be a considerable distance away from their homes instead of being able to opt for their local nursery.The new process does not allow for flexibility within the funded year, for example, parents who move into East Dunbartonshire.”

Some private nurseries in Kirkintilloch and Lenzie have started an ‘EDC Campaign Against Nursery Cuts’.

Gordon Currie, head of education at the council, said: “The council has not, and has no plans to, axe free places in private and voluntary nurseries.

“At its budget meeting in February the council agreed to make changes to the way nursery places are allocated. As a result, all 29 voluntary and private nurseries were asked to tender for a set number of free places and these have been allocated for this year.”

The council is continuing to review nursery provision.