Fair Funding for our Kids has renewed calls for nursery reform after our research revealed nine out of ten council nurseries don’t provide the cover working parents need.
Just one week after a damning Audit Scotland childcare report, our Freedom of Information requests show just one in ten council nurseries are open between 8am-6pm or longer. Nineteen councils had no nurseries which were open between 8am-6pm: the hours that campaigners say most parents need, if they’re to hold down a job.
Although twenty-three councils claimed they offered at least some children “full-day” places, in fact only 3% of all children attending council nurseries have nursery places starting at 8am or earlier. And just 2% have places ending at 5.15pm or later.
Carolyn Lochhead, parent volunteer at Fair Funding for our Kids said,
“Our research shows that the system is just not set up for working parents – the very people the Scottish Government say they want to help. If you don’t have grandparents nearby who can help with drop-off and pick-up, then it’s almost impossible to make use of a council nursery place”.
In Glasgow, less than two-fifths of the 110 council nurseries are open between 8am-6pm. What’s more, despite the council’s claim that 43 of its nurseries do operate these opening hours, it appears few children are benefitting from them: just 6% of children start at 8am or earlier, and only 4% finish at 5.15pm or later
Lanarkshire parent Moira Gibb commented,
“I’ve had to change my working hours to do thirty hours over five days, so I can collect my little girl at 4pm. And even that wouldn’t work if my dad didn’t do a 40 mile round trip every day to take her to nursery”.
The campaigners say that even a “full-day” place is impossible for many parents to access: one council defines “full-day” as 9am-3.30pm, while another says its “full day” ends at 4.17pm. And there are other disparities in provision across the country.
In East Renfrewshire, all of the 17 local authority nurseries are open between 8am-6pm or longer, yet in neighbouring Renfrewshire, less than half of its 34 nurseries offer these hours.
This compares poorly to East Dunbartonshire, where over a third of children are able to start at or before 8am and over ten per cent can finish after 5pm.
Parents of children aged 3 or 4 are entitled to 600 hours of free childcare per year. And the Scottish Government says its early learning and childcare policy should “support parents to work, train or study, especially those who need help with finding sustainable employment.”
Fair Funding for our Kids is calling for:
- An end to councils capping the number of places in partnership nurseries they will fund
- A national agreement on funding children who live in one area but need to attend nursery in another
- Ring-fenced childcare funding
- A minimum hourly rate to be paid to providers by local authorities