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Education / Expansion of Aith early years given planning go-ahead

Aith Junior High School, which includes primary and early years departments.

UPGRADED early learning facilities in Aith have moved a step closer after work to expand facilities at the village’s school received planning permission.

The work, which would see the existing extension demolished and a new one put in its place, is part of a Scottish Government-funded expansion of free early learning and childcare (ELC) hours for pre-school children.

A report presented to members of Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee in June showed that the Aith project, which has an estimated cost of £330,000, is the second most expensive capital work due to be carried out in the isles as part of the ELC expansion.

Council planners ruled that the “new extension shall be considerably larger than the existing extension, but it will enhance the vitality and viability of the existing school building as it promotes well-ordered and sustainable development”.

General redecoration of the nursery will also be carried out, while existing external paths will be regraded and a play area constructed on existing hard standing.

The job will go out to tender shortly and it is anticipated that the work would commence on site in January before being completed in April.

Early learning children at Sound in Lerwick, meanwhile, were moved last month to the vacant old Eric Gray Centre because refurbishment works were not completed on time.

The bairns, however, will move back to Sound when the school holidays finish on 30 October.

The roll out of expanded 1,140 hours a year funded early learning and childcare is being phased in across Shetland in stages through to 2020/21.

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