ARGYLL and Bute Council has become one of the few local authorities to deliver 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare to young children – even though the pandemic meant they were no longer required to do so.

A total of 80 childcare settings and 29 childminders are providing the service to all children aged three and four, and all eligible two-year-olds, in the area.

Prior to the pandemic, councils across Scotland were under a legal obligation to provide 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare (ELC) per annum on or before August 1 this year.

But in March the Scottish Government announced that because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the legal requirement to increase provision from the previous level of 600 hours a year had been extended beyond the initial deadline.

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Argyll and Bute Council says the 1,140 hours provision is now in place across the area, though some of the locations where the service is being provided are being used on a temporary basis.

The local authority also says that it has created almost 80 new full-time equivalent jobs to ensure the service is provided.

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, Argyll and Bute’s policy lead for education, said: “We have been committed to getting this scheme up and running in Argyll and Bute since day one and, despite the deadline being extended, we have continued to move ahead at full steam.”

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