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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

Progress at new Early Childhood Centre in Netherthird

Scottish Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP, popped in to view progress at the new Early Childhood Centre at Netherthird this morning.

The Minister was joined by Councillor Elena Whitham, Depute Leader of East Ayrshire Council, Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Skills and Learning, Alex McPhee, Depute Chief Executive and Linda McAulay Griffiths, Head of Education as she toured the construction of the new build development.

The new centre will replace the current facility and is due to be completed in April 2020.  It will deliver 1140 hours care for 83 children, with spaces for 9 children aged 0 to 2 years, 10 children aged 2 to 3 years and 64 children aged 3 to 5 years, along with admin and staff working spaces.

The building will feature large windows to maximise natural daylight in the internal spaces and facilities include upper floor galleries within the 3 to 5 playroom to offer children different spaces and perspectives. Children will benefit from a combination of both indoor and outdoor learning.  

Opportunities and experiences outdoors will be different to and complement indoor experiences.

The outdoor space will be natural with a mix of

surfaces and textures to provide opportunities and space to experience nature.

This will include space to run, use wheeled toys, explore nature and wildlife, plant, dig, get dirty, play with natural materials, climb and to provide elements of risks for children to manage.

With much more scope for learning and play outdoors, the centre is now all geared up for August 2020, when the Scottish Government’s Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland  comes into effect. This will nearly double the number of hours of funded early learning and childcare from 600 to 1140 hours, giving parents and carers a range of choices of how and where to access this.

Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd said: “It was excellent to see the progress being made on the new Netherthird Early Childhood Centre in Cumnock. The centre will provide an innovative and stimulating environment for local children to develop, play and learn.

“The centre is one of many new infrastructure projects being delivered ahead of the expansion of funded early learning and childcare in August. Over 270 projects have already been completed, with a further 600 in development or construction as we move in to the final stages of implementing the most generous early learning and childcare offer in the UK.

“We are ensuring that all three and four-year-olds, and around a quarter of two-year-olds, will have the opportunity to benefit from high quality ELC in a setting in their neighbourhood.”

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning, East Ayrshire Council was one of a party of officers and  local members also in attendance at the Minister’s visit.

“This new development is coming along apace. There’s so much to learn through play,and this new learning environment at Netherthird will ensure we can continue to giving local children an opportunity to experience the very best  possible start in life.

“For parents, the new extra hours provision will make a huge difference, with more flexibility in the system, meaning they can choose either to use  up to 30 hours a week through school term time or take advantage of up to 23 hours a week across 48 weeks. This will be available to all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds.

“This new system allows parents or carers to choose between full days, part days, term time or year round or even mix and match providers, including childminders. For those who’re working, studying or caring for others it should help with that difficult work/life balance and open up new possibilities, knowing children are being well looked after in a safe, stimulating educational environment.

“In East Ayrshire we’re well on the way to completing an extensive programme of redevelopment in all our centres and look forward to meeting the challenge of extra provision in  August 2020. We’re confident it will be lifechanging for children and parents throughout East Ayrshire in years to come.”

Construction is being undertaken by HUB SW and their appointed Contractor GRAHAM, on three new projects being delivered for East Ayrshire with a total project value of  £5.75 million. These developments commenced in summer 2019, and are scheduled for completion by April 2020.

GRAHAM Contracts Manager, Gerard O’Hare, said: “The GRAHAM team working on the Netherhird Early Years Centre were delighted to welcome MSP Maree Todd to site and show her around the exciting new development. The facility has come on leaps and bounds over the last few months and once complete, will provide the community with a safe, educational and creative space in which local children can learn and play.

“We’re thrilled with the progress we’ve made so far and we’d like to thank MSP Maree Todd for taking the time to visit and see the development coming together first hand. We look forward to opening the doors to this fantastic community facility in due course.”

Registration for early learning and childcare places in East Ayrshire will run from 17-28 February 2020. Parents and carers should contact their local centre. Information will be available on the Council website as will the Parent Guide to Early Learning and Childcare and the Allocation Policy.


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