Pre-school entry set to change

Councillors are to be asked to agree to changes in the system for allocating pre-school places to 3 and 4 year olds, in a bid to make the system more ‘efficient’.

Currently, Aberdeenshire Council allocates places for all 3 and 4 year olds in both school-based provision and on behalf of private, voluntary and ‘independent partner providers’. However, at a meeting of the Education, Learning and Lifelong Learning on 27 October, councillors will be asked to approve plans which would see partner providers and local authority facilities manage their own pre-school admissions from the 2012/13 session onwards.

This would mean parents themselves contacting the provider they wish to use, rather than applying to the council.

Director of Education, Learning and Leisure, Maria Walker, said: “If committee agrees the recommendations, it will allow service staff to focus on strategic improvement within early-years services and for the individual placement of children to be organised locally.

“This move supports the council’s commitment to encourage local area decision making.”

As part of the proposals, there would be an annual assessment of parental needs to provide the council with detailed information about the early education and childcare requirements of families at a local level.

Officials hope that this will allow the service to respond more fully to the changing needs of children and families, while supporting anticipated future national developments within early-years services.