Nurseries run out of places

8th August 1997 at 01:00
An acute shortage of pre-school places in parts of the country will deprive many four-year-olds of a nursery place, the Government admitted this week after appealing to local authorities to step up action to fill the gaps.

Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities blamed the failings on the nursery voucher scheme, which the Government has reluctantly been forced to continue. Vouchers have, however, been abandoned in Wales.

Mr Wilson said: "The gaps in provision fully justify the Government's scepticism towards a voucher-based system and its determination to replace it with a commitment to universal provision."

Alex Thomson, Cosla's education convener, said: "We warned that nursery vouchers would not provide a solution to finding pre-school places when they were introduced and I am not at all surprised by the minister's comments.

"Cosla is clearly of the view that the needs of pre-school children should not be left to either the bureaucracy of vouchers or the inconsistencies of the supply and demand of the market-place. Pre-school provision should be planned by councils, guaranteeing a place, choice and quality for every four-year-old, as well as a smooth transition to primary education."

The Scottish Office has now issued a list of 2,200 registered centres that qualify to take part in the final year of nursery vouchers, of which 1, 261 are local authority nurseries and 945 are private, voluntary or independent.

Councils are being urged to study the list carefully and liaise with voluntary and private sector providers to close the gaps. Mr Wilson said it was "unrealistic at this juncture" to expect education authorities to create all the additional places for the coming session.

Two weeks after the election, the minister announced that the scheme would run for a final session because of the complexities in dismantling it. The administration has, however, been simplified. There will only be one issue of vouchers and the number of signatures required from pre-school staff has been cut by almost a million.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now