Extra early years graduates for poorest areas promised
Scottish Government pledges £1.5m for extra early years staff in deprived areas
Nursery by Emily Goodstein
Nurseries in the most deprived parts of Scotland will get a new graduate-level member of staff each by 2018, the Scottish Government has promised.
The promise has been backed with £1.5m funding and forms part of plans to tackle the attainment gap between pupils from the wealthiest and poorest backgrounds.
The full-time equivalent graduate will be either a qualified teacher with early years expertise or a graduate practitioner with a BA in childhood practice, according to the plan.
The funding will go into upskilling existing practitioners or hiring already qualified teachers to provide 435 additional staff for the 432 nurseries located in the most deprived 20 per cent of Scottish communities.
The pledge comes amid fears the expansion of free childcare to 1140 hours will compromise on the quality of early years education.
Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald said: “During this expansion our priority is to ensure quality remains at the heart of the program and a diverse, highly skilled workforce is key to achieving this.
“We will work closely with local authorities to deliver this commitment in a way which maximises the number of children who will benefit.”
Charity Save the Children welcomed the additional funding. Policy manager in Scotland, Vicky Crichton, said early language skills had a direct impact on later learning.
“Early years teachers and graduates have the expertise to create settings that capture children’s imaginations and inspire learning through play and fun,” she said.
“Children are born ready to learn - studies show that the vast majority of a child’s brain development happens well before they reach school.”
Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone called for the Scottish Government to ensure all nursery staff are paid the Living Wage.
"We need to see all childcare staff paid the Living Wage at the very least, and this is something Scottish Ministers should consider in the forthcoming budget," she said.
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