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    First Minister visits Sauchie Nursery

    Written by on October 2, 2019

    The First Minister has been visiting a Forth Valley nursery today for updates on a policy to increase the amount of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

    Nicola Sturgeon’s travelled to Sauchie Nursery – which is one of the first in the country to offer 1,140 free hours of care.

    That’s a rise from the current funded 600 hours of care.

    The Scottish Government’s aiming to roll out the £2 billion policy by next August.

    Ms Sturgeon said, “From August 2020 all three and four-year-olds across Scotland, and around one-quarter of two-year-olds, will benefit from the most generous early learning and childcare offer in the UK.

    “High quality learning and care in the early years is the foundation from which every child can develop and reach their full potential and it also makes a key contribution to closing the attainment gap.

    “Our ambitious £2 billion programme will give children access to almost twice as many funded hours annually, worth up to £4,500 per child every year.

    “It will also give parents and carers more flexibility to explore work, education or training opportunities.

    “With less than one year to go many local authorities are making good progress with more than a third of eligible children now accessing expanded childcare and nearly half of additional staff needed in post.

    “That’s major progress but we know the next ten months will see a big effort from everyone to make sure we deliver on time in August.

    “We are confident but we do not underestimate the hard work ahead.”

    At the moment, a third of 3 and 4 year olds are now receiving more than the minimum 600 hours of free care.

    Figures from the Scottish Government also show 214 nurseries have been built, extended or refurbished since last March, in a bid to get childcare providers across the country ready for the new level of funded care.

    Marie McMeechan, whose daughter attends Sauchie Nursery, commented, “The introduction of the 1,140 hours at Sauchie Nursery has been excellent and very beneficial to me and my family.

    “As a single mother with school and nursery aged children the introduction of this has made a massive difference enabling me to go out to work without the added cost of childcare.

    “My daughter can be a fussy eater but introducing her to lunches has encouraged her to try different foods that she sees her friends eating – so now her diet is much more balanced and healthy.

    “I have so much to thank for the 1,140 hours and hope this continues to support families for many years to come.”

    The First Minister also spoke to our reporter Andrew Baxter about the latest Brexit developments: