Children in East Lothian will benefit from an increase of funded early learning and childcare hours with the roll out of the Scottish Government’s 1140 hours policy.

I’d like to thank everyone involved in transforming how they work and their commitment to children and families in East Lothian

Parents can choose to take their hours in a council setting, with a private funded nursery, childminder or playgroup – or a blend of these options.

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In 2015 the Scottish Government announced its intention to increase funded early learning and childcare from 600 to 1140 hours a year for all 3- and 4 year-olds, and eligible 2 year-olds. The implementation date was due to have been August 2020 but as the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic became clear, the statutory date was moved to August 2021. 

Over the last few years, East Lothian Council and its funded provider partners (nurseries, childminders and community groups) have worked together on plans to roll out this new policy across the county. A phased roll-out programme was introduced in a number of areas before the pandemic and, from August 2021, all local authority and funded providers will offer the increased hours.

The plans, approved by the Scottish Government, have had to be adapted to take account of restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure that all settings comply with Scottish Government guidance and public health advice. This includes restrictions on the number of children who can be in a group, limits on staff working with different groups of children, enhanced cleaning regimes and limits on blended placements where children attend more than one nursery setting in the week. 

Full details are available from a newly-created website:

Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services Councillor Fiona Dugdale said: “The increase in the number of hours that children can attend early learning and childcare settings– with no additional cost – will make an enormous difference for families. Parents may be able to access extra employment, training or education without the worry of further childcare costs and in turn, children will benefit from high-quality early learning and childcare.

“Crucially they can choose the option that will work best for them whether that’s a council or funded private nursery, childminder or community group. 

“I am especially pleased that this increase will support eligible 2 year-olds to make sure that families who need this most will receive it. 

“Our teams have worked closely with our staff and our funded partners from across the sector to ensure we are fully ready for this increase in hours. I’d like to thank everyone involved in transforming how they work and their commitment to getting this right for children and families in East Lothian.”

The council’s own nursery settings will offer parents one of two models depending on the setting:

  • 38 weeks: children will attend Monday to Thursday full days and a Friday morning, term-time only.  
  • 48 weeks: children will attend full days – either Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday and alternate Fridays throughout the year (including Easter and Summer holiday periods) except Christmas holidays and public or in service days. This has been calculated to accommodate closures on a Friday/Monday due to public holidays with the hours being divided across the full year. This means that each child will receive their full entitlement of hours regardless of the days they attend.

The model in place in each setting has been developed in line with this guidance and to ensure children receive their full entitlement of the expanded hours. There are no catchment areas for nurseries therefore parents have flexibility to choose either the setting or the model that suits them best across all settings including local authority and funded providers. 

East Lothian Council will be emailing families from 19 May to confirm nursery allocations in its own settings for 2021/22 based on applications it received. Parents can use the dedicated website to see what options are available to them across all 1140hours providers in the county. 

Visit the 1140hours website

Published: Monday, 17th May 2021