MULTI-MILLION pound plans to develop and expand early years centres across North Ayrshire have been given the green light.

North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet has approved the £13million plans which will see improvement work carried out at dozens of centres over the next few years.

The redevelopment of the early years centres is being carried out as part of the expansion of early learning and childcare which NAC say will see children benefit from almost double the number of free childcare hours currently available.

That means many early years facilities will have to be refurbished and developed to cope with the increased provision.

In addition to the expansion plans, it is expected that up to 170 new full-time equivalent posts will be created, mainly for early years practitioners.

Councillor John Bell, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “By August 2020, all three and fouryear-olds and eligible two-yearolds can access 1140 hours of free early learning and childcare children each year – that’s nearly double the current amount of 600 hours.

“We need to make sure our centres are fit to deliver this expanded programme, so over the next couple of years, we will deliver improvements to early learning centres in every part of North Ayrshire.

“In fact, work is already well under way and we are already piloting the expanded hours at two centres. Glencairn in Stevenston and Loudoun Montgomery in Irvine started delivering 1140 hours in January and it’s going even better than we had hoped.

“100 per cent of families are taking up their entitlement to 1140 hours and are reporting positively on the impact and benefits of the increased provision on their children.

“Over the next two years, we will deliver the expanded hours to more and more centres across North Ayrshire and this investment will ensure they have the right facilities to give our children the best possible start in life.”

The increase to 1140 hours in early learning and childcare means that early years centres will operate from 8am till 6pm over 49 weeks of the year.

That system has been piloted at Loudoun Montgomery and Glencairn early years classes from January this year with a further three centres due to begin expanded hours from August – Abbey EYC, Dalry EYC; and Springvale EYC.

A further five centres will then offer the expanded service over the following months – Kilwinning EYC; Ardeer EYC in Stevenston; Castlepark EYC in Irvine; Stanley EYC in Ardrossan; and St John’s EYC, Stevenston.

These centres were selected for early implementation as they are considered to be in areas of greatest need.

Redevelopment and expanded hours will then continue to be rolled out across North Ayrshire ahead of the full implementation of 1140 hours in August 2020.

As part of the £13m investment – which is subject to confirmation of funding from the Scottish Government – a new Early Learning and Childcare and Training Centre will be developed at Montgomerie Park, Irvine.

Establishments currently delivering 1140 Hours from January 2018

* Loudon Montgomery Early Years Class

* Glencairn Early Years Class

Establishments Commencing Delivery of 1140 Hours from August 2018:

* Abbey Early Years Class

* Castlepark Early Years Class

* Kilwinning Early Years Class

* Ardeer Early Years Class

* Dalry Early Years Class

* Springvale Early Years Class

* Stanley Early Years Class

* St John’s Early Years Class

August 2019

* Blacklands Early Years Class

* Corsehill Early Years Class

* Lawthorn Early Years Class

* Springside Early Years Class

* St Luke’s Early Years Class

* Woodlands Early Years Class

* St Mark's Early Years Class

* Caledonia Early Years Class

* Garnock Valley Early Years Class

* Hayocks Early Years Class

* St Bridget’s Early Years Class

August 2020

* Dreghorn Early Years Class

* Elderbank Early Years Class

* Proposed new-build Early Years and Training Centre, Irvine.

* Arran Early Years Class

* Beith Early Years Class

* Cumbrae Early Years Class

* Fairlie Early Years Class

* Garnock Community Campus

* Gateside Early Years Class

* Largs Early Years Centre

* Mayfield Early Years Class

* Moorpark Early Years Class

* Skelmorlie Early Years Class

* St John Ogilvy Early Years Class

* St Peter’s Early Years Class

* West Kilbride Early Years Class

* Whitlees Early Years Class

* Winton Early Years Class