The Labour party in Scotland has issued a local authority circular even before taking office outlining how councils and pre-school providers should prepare for the replacement of the nursery vouchers project, which is due to become a national scheme next August.
Helen Liddell, spokeswoman on education, says that Labour's plans would "turn the shabby, misleading voucher scheme" into one that would guarantee a place for every four-year-old, leading to a target of every three-year-old having nursery care and education. She added that money saved from vouchers would be used to pilot "early excellence centres".
The circular gives a guarantee that any child who has been issued with a voucher, and is eligible for pre-school provision from August and beyond, will be entitled to that place until reaching school age. No further vouchers would be issued.
Labour suggests that each local authority should convene an early days forum no later than March to bring together local providers and parent and employer representatives to review the situation and plan the development of under-fives services from August.
Where vouchers have not been distributed, the money provisionally allocated for the scheme will be distributed among local authorities to begin the expansion of places for all four-year-olds.