By Monica Gibson

PLANS have been unveiled for 12 new nurseries across East Renfrewshire as part of a £44million investment.

East Renfrewshire Council (ERC) aims to carry out the work over the next seven years, creating more than 200 jobs.

The proposals are part of measures submitted to the Scottish Government outlining how ERC will provide the increased level of free early learning and childcare provision required by August 2020.

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

As well as providing a new nursery class at Cross Arthurlie Primary, in Barrhead, the investment package will create a new family centre in Overlee Park, Clarkston, a replacement facility for Glenwood Family Centre, in Giffnock, and a new family centre near Fairweather Hall, in Newton Mearns.

Fiona MacDonald, headteacher at Cross Arthurlie Primary, said: “The grounds within Cross Arthurlie Primary will provide an opportunity for learning to be developed for young children in the area, both indoors and out, and for families to be able to access this right on their doorstep is a huge bonus.”

“By working with children and families and establishing positive relationships from nursery onwards, we will be able to provide excellent learning opportunities closely matched to the needs of our children.”

ERC’s plans also outline proposals to extend other current centres and create nursery classes in existing facilities.

The increased provision will provide 400 new places for East Renfrewshire residents by 2020 and offer more flexibility to parents.

The proposals will create child development officer jobs, as well as headteacher, depute head, senior child development officer, teaching staff, quality improvement staff, facilities management and business support roles.

Councillor Paul O’Kane, education and equalities convener, said: “The experiences provided to the youngest members of our community are so important in shaping their approach to learning.”

“It is also vital that we continue to support parents by making our early learning and childcare provision as affordable as possible and nurturing a family-centred approach to learning.”

Once the council’s proposals have been considered by the Scottish Government, the intention would be to implement it in three phases.

The first phase would be developed in preparation for providing 1,140 hours by August 2020.

Nine Foundation Apprenticeships in Early Learning and Childcare would also be created for senior pupils in local schools.

A more flexible approach to nursery places will then be adopted as part of the following phases of the expansion plans, with sessions matching the school day, longer, if required, and/or stretched throughout the year, rather than just term time.

Relationships with partnership nurseries and childminders will also be enhanced to give parents the opportunity to access their free hours in a combined way.