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Education / Nurseries to close early for building work

The Happyhansel Primary School in Walls has had an extension built to provide additional space for early years activities. Photo: SIC

FOUR early years facilities in Shetland will be forced to take a longer summer break to allow for building work as part of an expansion of early learning and childcare.

Shetland Islands Council has advised parents that work will be undertaken at the early years settings at Bell’s Brae, Sound and Cunningsburgh Primary Schools and at Baltasound Junior High School this summer.

The council says that each setting will close one week before the start of the schools’ summer break to allow building work to begin.

Work is expected to continue through the summer holiday period into first two weeks of the new term, with the four early years settings due to be closed during this time or until the building work is completed.

It is part of a wider capital programme that will make improvements to most of Shetland’s early learning and childcare settings as the Scottish Government looks to increase the hours of free early learning and childcare across the country from 600 to 1,140 hours per year by 2020.

Among the work planned this summer is changing the layout of rooms to create areas for children who will be attending for longer hours.

The new layouts will provide necessary spaces for activities like meal preparation and dining, and areas for children to sleep and rest, as well as improvements to allow children to have access to outdoor spaces, the council said.

Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee chairman George Smith said: “It’s an exciting and busy time for our early years settings as we expand our early learning and childcare service across Shetland.

“There’s a lot of work underway on staff development in many settings and at these four schools we also need to do work to the buildings.

“We understand that this will have an impact on parents and carers at these schools but hope that they can support us while we do this necessary work, to meet our commitment to offer 1,140 hours of free early learning and childcare across Shetland by 2020.”

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021