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Scotland's council-run nurseries not open 'long enough' for working parents

Article By: Melissa McAlees

Only one in 10 council nurseries provide sufficient hours of childcare to allow parents to work full-time, new research has revealed.

Credit: Olimpik/

A freedom of information request from Fair Funding for our Kids found that only 139 out of 1,369 settings across Scotland are open between 8am-6pm or longer.

The campaign group said that parents need access to nurseries that are open between these hours in order to hold down a job.

Carolyn Lochhead, a parent volunteer at Fair Funding for our Kids said: "Our research shows that the system is just not set up for working parents – the very people the Scottish Government say they want to help. If you don’t have grandparents nearby who can help with drop-off and pick-up, then it’s almost impossible to make use of a council nursery place."

The campaign group requested details on nursery opening hours from Scotland's 32 local authorities.

In Glasgow City Council, Scotland’s largest local authority, almost two fifths of council nurseries are open between 8am and 6pm.

In East Renfrewshire, all 17 of the council run nurseries were open between 8am and 6pm, with 67 per cent in East Dunbartonshire also operating between these hours.

But 19 councils do not have nurseries which are open for business between 8am and 6pm, including Edinburgh City Council.

The campaign group says that a “full-day place is impossible for many parents to access”. One council defines 'full-day' as 9am-3.30pm, while another says its 'full day' ends at 4.15pm.

Lanarkshire parent Moira Gibb said: "I have had to change my working hours to 30 hours over five days so I can collect my daughter at 4pm, and even that wouldn’t work if my dad didn’t do a 40-mile round trip every day to take her to nursery."

In light of these findings, Fair Funding for our Kids is calling for:

• An end to councils capping the number of places in partnership nurseries they will fund

• A national agreement on funding children who live in one area but need to attend nursery in another

• Ring-fenced childcare funding

• A minimum hourly rate to be paid to providers by local authorities

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, Liz Smith, said: "It's clear that, right across Scotland, childcare just isn't flexible enough.

"If this issue isn't addressed now, parents will continue to struggle to get back into work and the economy will suffer as a result."

Fair Funding for Our Kids was set up in 2014 to campaign for parents to receive their legal entitlement to free childcare.


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