Expanding Early Learning and Childcare
30th May 2018
The trial expansion of early learning and childcare in 6 centres in Highland was welcomed by Members of Highland Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee today (30 May 2018).
The aim of the expansion is to provide high quality, flexible early learning and childcare that is accessible and affordable for families.
Scottish Government is committed to nearly doubling the entitlement of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) to 1140 hours a year by 2020 for all 3 and 4-year olds and eligible 2-year olds. Highland Council, as part of this phased expansion is trialling 1140 hours from August 2018 in six centres:
Merkinch Primary School Nursery
Merkinch Family Centre
Fliperz Day Care Centre
Obsdale Primary School Nursery
Kyle Primary School Nursery
Bun-sgoil Ghaidhlig Loch Abar (BSGL)
Cllr Andrew Baxter, Chair of the Care, Learning and Housing Committee said: "Expanding early learning and childcare provision supports the Council’s Programme commitment to ‘provide services that support all our children to have the best start in life’. This is great news for children, parents and families in the trial centre communities. In addition to improving early learning it also enable parents and carers to get back into the work place hence boosting our local economies.
“Members will be asked to consider more centres throughout the Highlands moving to 1140 hours in August 2019 based on the level of funding Highland received from the Scottish Government next year."
Councillors welcomed the multi-year funding allocations to deliver the expansion of 1140 hours by 2020, of £26.469m recurring funding for service delivery and funding of £32.590m to enable capital works to go ahead.
Bill Alexander Director of Care and Learning said: “This is a welcome development, of great benefit to children and families. It will enable the Council to support the development and learning of children and assist with closing the attainment gap.
“The funding will also be used to employ graduate staff to provide additional support to children in nurseries in areas of deprivation.”
Police in Lochaber can confirm that a 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged consumer protection offences in Fort William. It follows an investigation by Police Scotland and Highland Council Trading Standards, after a report was received this week of "bogus workmen" in Fort William and alleged fraudulent activity relating to charges for work carried out on a house in the town.
DETAILED analysis of the Scottish Government's funding settlement, which makes up the vast proportion of the Council's budget, has been carried out and the net result is that the Highland Council will see a reduction in its grant funding to provide the current level of services. This, together with the additional pressures equates to a £31.2M budget gap for 2019-20.
Highland Council Trading Standards have produced guidance on how to spot the signs of scams that target businesses and also remind businesses to inform their employees on what to look out for when dealing with unsolicited telephone calls, emails and texts. All businesses as well as non-profit organisations (such as charitable organisations) may spend a lot of time dealing with potential scammers.
The Highland Council has written to parents and carers of school transport pupils to inform them that D&E Coaches have recently transferred a number of Highland Council contracts to Stagecoach and some school transport routes are included. These changes are to take effect from the first day back after the school holidays, Monday 7th January 2019 and timetables have been supplied for the routes affected.
Twenty nine members of The Highland Council's Care and Learning team have celebrated their success in completing the Council's 15 month ‘Lead On’ programme. ‘Lead On’, is a programme designed to develop practitioners’ understanding of change leadership and apply this through a change initiative in their place of work.
Highland Councillors are looking forward beyond the current Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal and asking: "What next and where?". Following publication of the Deal's annual report, Leader of The Highland Council Cllr Margaret Davidson said: "A meeting will be convened in the New Year with Councillors who have a particular interest in the City-Region Deal to talk about where we can go next and what we can do.".
Work underway to determine Highland's Budget allocation. Commenting after the news received last night of Councils' individual allocations, from the Scottish Government’s draft Budget, Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "Having received the details of our allocation just last night, it will take some time to work through the proposed settlement and do a detailed analysis.
THROUGHOUT the month of November, The Highland Council's Chief Executive and members of the budget team have met with staff, groups and communities across the length and breadth of the Highlands. These sessions were part of a budget engagement exercise which also included facebook chats, survey, leaflet, video, and a budget challenge to raise awareness of budget challenges and gather views and priorities.
The Highland Council is to carry out a public consultation on the implementation of a transient visitor levy in the New Year. During the Council's public engagement activity during November, a strong theme was support for raising income from tourism, including a tourist levy, which could support local infrastructure, as well as the tourism sector itself.
Members have agreed six priority commitments in a revised Council Programme at today's council meeting. The six themes within the Programme are: A Council that Champions the Highlands; A Place to Live; A place to Thrive; A place to Prosper; A Welcoming Place; and Your Highland Council These themes and the actions which the council has agreed to, reflect priorities which have emerged through the round of public engagement during November.
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