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MP calls for review over council nursery provision

A SCOTS MP has called for a review after a council, which became the first to refuse free pre-school education funding for children in private and community-run nurseries, imposed new restrictions because of a budget overspend.

East Dunbartonshire Council has placed an indefinite block on parents with changing circumstances, who already have funding, moving children to alternative nurseries.

It has further emerged it could continue to restrict funding to pre-school education after an applications deadline until June 2015.

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson, has called for a strategic review over how the council manages nursery provision and is seeking a meeting with head of education Gordon Currie.

The council has indicated it faces making cutbacks of around £7million over the next two years because of the funding deal offered by the Scottish Government.

The Herald revealed in October last year, that the council had stopped funding for pre-school education for three and four-year-olds at private nurseries, due to what it called financial constraints in a move that enraged parents and partner nursery owners.

And the authority is to continue capping nursery places in partner nurseries through a commissioning process in which partners nurseries are asked to tender for the provision of a set number of pre-school education places.

If a child is not registered by the end of July in any given year, the only option is a pre-school education at a local authority nursery, which does not provide full-time wraparound care catering for parents who work a full day.

All three and four-year-olds are entitled to 12.5 hours a week of free nursery education, paid for through a Government allocation to local authorities. But this is not ring-fenced.

Mr Currie said: "There are no ceilings on places; the number of places available are determined by the budget at any given point ... there is no budget available to increase the number of partnership places available or to facilitate the transfer from partnership nursery to another where there is an increase in cost.

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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