PARENTS across Glasgow have reacted angrily to changes in their children's nursery provision.
Today Councillor Stephen Curran, Executive Member for Education and Young People, outlines how the Partnership Nursery Procurement Process works
A LOT has been written recently about the council's purchase of additional nursery places from private companies and I wanted to clear up some misunderstandings and explain our open and transparent legal process.
We know that this is an emotive subject for families - choosing a nursery for their child is one of the biggest decisions a parent will make and so it should be.
But in a nutshell, Scottish Parliament legislation states the local authority has a duty to provide sufficient places for eligible three and four-year-olds - it does not specify that this is a nursery of your choice.
As a council we try to help families by offering a high- quality early years service and we expect nothing less from our partnership nurseries.
To offer flexibility to working families and to meet demand, we award partnership contracts to private nurseries to complement the number of places in council nurseries.
These places are purchased via a transparent legal pro-curement process - we have just awarded the second three -year contracts and it is on the back of this process that there have been some misunder-standing among families.
The most important fact is that there is no reduction in the number of purchased nursery places across the city.
We have in fact increased the number, as well as funding per place by 26% with the new contracts.
The number of extra places will vary in different areas - it is basic supply and demand and based on the estimated population figures for areas.
That said, we recognise there can be greater demand in certain areas - in particular the city centre - where the population figure will be less but parents who work in the city centre may want childcare close to their work. So we purchase more places in the city centre to assist them.
However, families can have different childcare needs and as parents choose nurseries for a range of reasons it is not straightforward to be able to meet all those specific needs.
Our early years officers have worked with private nurseries in the run up to the new tendering process to make their applications as easy as possible and in simple terms contracts are awarded:
l 80% on quality
l 10% on provision of extended hours
l 10% on links to further education
This means that parents can be assured the best provision is chosen and they can have confidence in the service.
This brings me back to my original point - parents need to be equipped with the correct information when choosing a nursery for their child and they need to be aware at this stage that if they choose a private nursery - there is no guarantee that this nursery will have partnership status for the duration they need to access the service.
This can be a minefield for new parents and to help families, we are working on a new Family Information Website to be launched at the end of August.
The one-stop shop for parents to access the most up-to-date information from partners - council, voluntary and private - explains everything a family will need to make informed decisions about early years education.
I have met parents and nursery owners over the last few weeks to explain the procurement process and to listen to their concerns and we will continue to support families.
Let's be clear - we are not withholding funding from parents and we are not breaking the law. We want the best for each child in Glasgow and our process ensures we are delivering this.