This week, the Scottish Executive trumpeted that on top of near universal provision for four-year-olds, around 80 per cent of three-year-olds now benefit from nursery (page five). Local authorities have shown over the past three years they can respond quickly by creating partnerships - sometimes uneasily - with the voluntary and independent sectors to provide places.
Ministers and authorities deserve credit. Yet their success merely throws up other key issues. Places are still part-time and parents have largely to fend for themselves in the remaining hours. Even the Chancellor's favourite family support schemes leave many short and as a recent report showed, grandparents remain important providers of care. The education versus care friction has yet to be resolved.