Nurseries across East Renfrewshire have seen a bumper crop of new staff members thanks to a council drive to improve childcare. 

A year ago, existing staff members in clerical and pupil support roles across the authority were offered the chance to go back to college and study for an HNC in Early Childhood Practice. 

The move was part of East Renfrewshire Council’s drive to meet new Scottish Government targets for free childcare by 2020.

Local authorities currently provide 600 free hours a year for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds, but this is increasing to 1,140 hours.

Eighteen staff members from schools across the area attended West College Scotland on a part-time basis and undertook 60 days of placement within an early learning and childcare setting, while continuing in their currents roles.

And in a first for the college’s course, the entire class graduated with straight As and most have since secured roles as Child Development Officers (CDOs) within the council’s early learning and childcare centres.

Among the graduates and newly qualified CDO’s is Yvonne McIlwham who was previously working as a Pupil Support Assistant (PSA) at St Ninian’s High School in Giffnock, but has since secured a position at Arthurlie Family Centre in Barrhead.

The 51-year-old said: “Taking this opportunity is the best thing I have ever done.”