It was straight As for a group of 18 staff currently working in schools across East Renfrewshire who went back to college to develop their careers.
A group of clerical staff and Pupil Support Assistants (PSAs) – whose role is to provide support to pupils and teachers – were given the opportunity to enrol in a course at West College Scotland to complete an HNC in Early Childhood Practice.
The move was part of East Renfrewshire Council’s drive to meet new Scottish Government targets for free childcare by 2020.
Local authorities currently provide 600 free hours a year for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds, but this is increasing to 1,140 hours.
As well as this requiring the council to increase the number of nurseries, more than 100 additional Child Development Officers (CDOs) will also be needed.
Having completed the course with flying colours – the first time a whole class at West College Scotland has achieved As across the board – all these staff can now apply for jobs as CDOs within the council’s Early Learning and Childcare Centres.
Councillor Paul O’Kane, Convener for Education and Equalities, said: “This is a fantastic achievement by this group of staff, who will become a real asset to our nurseries and family centres. We pride ourselves on the quality of education offered to all our children and young people, so it is great that these passionate staff will now be able to take on these new roles.
“This approach to expanding our workforce is just one way in which we will meet this need, but it offered a great opportunity to this dedicated group of staff to develop their careers.
“Our preparations for implementing the increased level of free childcare is already moving forward at pace and I’m delighted that our first phase of this roll-out will start in August.”
Staff who completed the HNC were given paid day release by the Council to allow them to attend college, and also spent a minimum of 60 days within an early learning and childcare setting in order to complete the course.
Another group of staff have now embarked on this qualification, as the Council continues to drive forward its expansion plan.
The first phase of the Council’s approach to increasing free early learning and childcare provision across the area is being introduced in August.
As well as instantly providing some children and families with increased free early learning and childcare, the phased approach will allow the Council to test new staffing models and introduce hot lunch provision.
Starting in August, two nursery classes and two family centres will extend the provision offered in order to give families more flexibility and choice.
With greater capacity now available at Arthurlie Family Centre, Isobel Mair Family Centre, Braidbar Nursery Class and Busby Nursery Class these facilities will be first to roll-out the increased provision.
Until the Council’s expansion plan is fully implemented, access to increased free childcare places will be limited and so criteria are also being put in place to identify children who are eligible to benefit.
To find out more about how to apply for increased childcare, visit www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/earlylearningandchildcare.