PARENTS at a Kilwinning nursery school have been left furious after their children’s agreed nursery placements were scrapped and places determined by a ballot.

Children at St Luke’s Nursery had been given their agreed places for the new extended nursery hours in June, however that agreement was scrapped last week and put to a ballot with almost 60 children vying of one of only seven 9am to 3pm places.

One parent said she had arranged her working hours around her daughter’s agreed nursery hours and was “appalled” that North Ayrshire Council had ‘gone back on their word’.

She said: “This was all sorted before the kids went back and now they have told us those places aren’t ours anymore and it has to go to a ballot. It’s appalling that they have gone back on their word. They have no regard for the kids or the parents. They have made a mess of this whole extended hours thing.”

Parents at St Luke’s say the new hours were supposed to start in August but have been delayed until October.

One angry mum told the Times: “It’s very clear that these changes are focused on providing childcare and not in preparing our children for school, which is what the role of the school nursery should be. Private nurseries are there to then support additional childcare needs for those who need it.

“The council have promoted this as choice for parents when in fact there is not a lot of choice as there are limited places allocated to certain slots and it has resulted in the luck of the draw with parents waiting on ballots determining whether their child has a place that suits them or not.

“I have witnessed a lot of stressed and concerned parents who now after having placements and times confirmed in June are now three weeks from the new hours and are still waiting to hear what place their child will have and if it works for them.

“The school have tried their best to navigate a process that has been forced on them and it is clear that nobody sees this as a good idea, not parents or teachers. The only promoters of this appear to be the office-based council staff.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “The feedback from parents and carers has been overwhelmingly positive to the changes we’ve introduced to bring in 1,140 hours across all our establishments.

“This has been a massive undertaking and was never going to be a completely straightforward process as this is not only new to us but also to the parents and carers.

“As we have been developing our 1,140 hours programme, we have gathered feedback from parents. From this engagement, a 9am-3pm option has been introduced as an additional choice. We felt that this should be introduced across our establishments, including St Luke’s, as soon as possible.

“We’ve tried to be as flexible as possible and provided 16 different options for term time and 12 options for those needing the service all-year round. We are confident we will find a solution for everyone and hope that can be agreed next week.”