Nursery school sessions for pre school children in the Borders will be increased from August 2014, and parents are being asked how the additional hours should be applied.
Scottish Borders Council are wanting to hear from parents and carers of children aged 0-5 years about proposals to increase the number of hours per year of free early learning and childcare sessions provided for pre-school children, from 475 hours to 600.
A series of parental consultation sessions are being organised across the region throughout October and interested parents are urged to attend and share their views.
Limited crèche spaces will be available at the afternoon consultation sessions. Face painting and a play space will be available during the Saturday sessions.
Berwickshire sessions are on: Saturday, October 5, in the Volunteer Hall, Duns, 10am–12 noon; and Wednesday, October 23, High School Eyemouth, 12.45pm–2.45pm and 6pm–8pm.
Other sessions are taking place in Galashiels, Selkirk, Earlston, Hawick, Peebles, Kelso and Jedburgh.
Free pre-school nursery education is currently available at 79 nurseries across the region (29 based at local primary schools) for up to five part-time sessions of 2.5 hours per week (up to a maximum of 12.5 hours per week).
Last year, however, the Scottish Government announced that the amount of free nursery education was to be increased for children aged 3-5 years.
Through the new Children’s Services Bill local authorities are now legally obliged to deliver the minimum requirement and First Minister Alec Salmond said: “This Government has an ambition to make Scotland the best place for children to grow up. To make that happen it’s crucial we support families by providing better, more flexible nursery education.
He described it as “a legislative commitment to the future of Scotland’s children and families as well as the best package of nursery education provision on offer anywhere in the UK.”
“Improved nursery education will help support parents looking to get back into employment while also helping give our children the best start in life through increased early learning opportunities,” added Mr Salmond.
“We will continue working with local authorities, the Early Years Task Force and the childcare sector to develop childcare and early learning in Scotland to ensure it best supports our shared ambitions for the vital early years of life.”
A duty was also placed on local authorities to consult on delivery of expanded nursery services that are to take place over at least 38 weeks; sessions being more than 2.5 hours but less than eight hours.