Sturgeon: Free holiday childcare for poorer families

Holiday childcare announcement marks rare mention for education in speech dominated by Brexit and Scottish independence

Henry Hepburn

Sturgeon: Free holiday childcare for poorer families

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced free childcare for primary pupils from poorer families during school holidays.

In a speech lasting nearly 50 minutes at the SNP conference in Aberdeen this afternoon, education was barely mentioned until she announced this policy towards the end of her time at the podium.

Ms Sturgeon said: "If the SNP is returned to government after the next Holyrood election, we will expand childcare into the school holidays for primary pupils from the poorest backgrounds."

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This would result in "full days of high-quality childcare", with the effect of "freeing parents to work, to help them lift their families out of poverty".

She also flagged up the doubling of free childcare for pre-school children that is due to come into force from August 2020.

Aside from that, however, education – which Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said is her biggest priority since becoming first minister in 2014 – was scarcely touched on in a speech dominated by Brexit and the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum.

On the doubling of free childcare, she said: "When I became first minister, I set my government a clear priority – education.

"And there is no policy more transformational and with more potential to raise attainment in the years to come than the expansion of early learning and childcare."

She added: "By August next year we will have all but doubled the hours children receive.

"They will benefit from 30 hours a week of high quality, free care and education. And it will save families £4,500 a year for each child."

Concerns have been raised, however, about the early years sector's ability to deliver this flagship policy.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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