Work is under way at a Barrhead primary school to build a new nursery for the area.

Cross Arthurlie Primary nursery class, which will be linked to the existing school, will provide 60 places for local children and will be complete by August 2020.

The facility, which is being built on a previously unused grass area in the grounds of the school, will also include external pram and cycle shelters.

The work is part of the council’s ambitious project to build six new nurseries across East Renfrewshire to meet the Scottish Government’s target of almost doubling the amount of free childcare available for families.

Local authorities currently provide 600 free hours a year and this will increase to 1,140 in August next year, which is in effect a rise to 30 hours per week, matching the time children spend each week in primary school.

Among reasons for the increase is to close the poverty-related attainment gap and increase family resilience through improved health and wellbeing of children and parents. It is also seen as a way of helping parents get into work, study or training.

Councillor Paul O’Kane, convener for education and equalities, said: “I am delighted to see work under way at this new facility in the heart of the Barrhead community.

“Once completed it will provide 60 places for our youngest learners, with amazing indoor and outdoor space to allow them to expand their curiosity through play.

“We are committed to providing the very best learning environment for all the children and young people in East Renfrewshire and this project will deliver just that for our residents.”

Cross Arthurlie Primary head teacher Fiona MacDonald, who will also have responsibility for the new nursery, added: “This project is so exciting for the Cross Arthurlie school community and more widely across Barrhead.

“This brand new nursery facility will add another dimension to our educational offering and we can’t wait to see it progress in the months ahead.”

In addition to Cross Arthurlie Primary nursery class, a new nursery will be built at Overlee Park, in Clarkston, Glenwood Family Centre, in Thornliebank, will be replaced, a new family centre will replace the dilapidated Crookfur Pavillion, in Newton Mearns, and two new centres will be built within the grounds of Busby and Eaglesham primaries.

As part of the work to create the new nurseries, improved community and sports facilities will also be incorporated within the Crookfur and Overlee centres.

Also being developed as part of the expansion plan are improved facilities at Hazeldene Family Centre and Carolside Nursery Class.