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Revamped nursery buildings ‘nowhere near’ target level

​​​​​​​Figures show that target of 750 ‘built, expanded or refurbished’ nurseries remains some way off

Revamped nursery buildings ‘nowhere near’ target level

The Scottish government has a long way to go before it reaches a key target on nursery buildings, it has emerged.

Last year, first minister Nicola Sturgeon promised that by the end of the current Scottish Parliament, in 2021, around 750 nurseries across the country would be "built, expanded or refurbished".

However, in response to a written question by Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton, children and young people minister Maree Todd indicated that, so far, a total of 97 nurseries have been built, extended or refurbished since August 2017.

This represents 13 per cent of the nurseries needed to achieve the government's target of 750. The 97 nurseries include 72 completed refurbishments, 12 completed extensions and 13 completed new builds.

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The Scottish Conservatives say the government could fall short by around 500 nurseries if the current rate of progress is maintained.

The Scottish government has also promised to increase free childcare from 600 hours to 1,140 hours per year by 2020, one of its flagship education pledges.

Ms Hamilton said: "The SNP has made so little progress towards their own target on nursery capacity it is laughable.

"Nicola Sturgeon herself has promised that 750 nurseries will be built, expanded or refurbished by 2021, yet the SNP is nowhere near.”

She added: "The SNP has taken almost two years to upgrade or build 97 nurseries in total. With this kind of progress, how on earth can they promise each child will have 1,140 hours of childcare next year?

"Yet again, it seems that there is a massive gulf between the SNP's promises and the reality of their delivery."

In a piece for Tes Scotland in December, one of the leading voices for the early years in Scotland said that the target of 1,140 free nursery hours was "welcome".

However, Jean Carwood-Edwards, chief executive of Early Years Scotland, also pinpointed areas where there needed to be more progress: parents and children, for example, should have the choice to be together for at least part of their funded nursery entitlement, she said.

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