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Steady rise in pre-school numbers continues

Nearly all three and four-year-olds receive nursery education and there has been a substantial rise in the number of after-school clubs, the latest Scottish Executive statistics show.

In January this year, 85 per cent of three-year-olds and 100 per cent of four-year-olds in Scotland attended pre-school education, against 83 per cent of three-year-olds and 99 per cent of four-year-olds the previous year. There are 2,800 providers of pre-school education, with nursery classes accounting for 40 per cent and standalone nursery schools making up the other 60 per cent.

Gaelic-medium education is on the increase, with 1,236 pre-school children benefiting, up 9 per cent on the previous year. There were 62 providers of Gaelic-medium education, virtually all local authority run or voluntary.

Thirty-two centres were attached to primary schools, 22 operated mainly as playgroups and eight were standalone nurseries.

Three per cent of children in pre-school education have English as an additional language, the highest proportion (15 per cent) in the Western Isles with Glasgow and Edinburgh next (10 per cent and 6 per cent).

Provision of out-of-school care has expanded substantially with more than 1,000 clubs, 174 of which were set up in the past year. Most operate from school premises (53 per cent) or community centres (23 per cent) and are provided by the voluntary sector.

On average they are open 42 weeks a year and cost pound;26 for five sessions a week. Nine per cent are open all year round.

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