17 August 2021

First day back in Aberdeenshire and "raring to go" with early learning and childcare expansion

As children and young people across Aberdeenshire enjoy their first day of the new school term, some of the local authority’s youngest residents are benefiting from beginning their learning journey at one of 70 refurbished or newly built facilities.

Fishermoss Primary School in Portlethen is one of four schools supported by Aberdeenshire Council to benefit from a brand new nursery building. £1.8m has been spent on creating a large, new early years setting, designed to meet the highest standard of early learning and childcare provision across the globe, both inside and out.

It’s part of the local authority’s 1140 expansion of early learning and childcare, with the extended hours now available to all families – at both council settings and funded providers, such as private nurseries, childminders and playgroups.

Fishermoss Head Teacher Margaret Ferguson commented: “We are really looking forward to welcoming all the children back to school and nursery as the new term begins. The state-of-the-art nursery is a fantastic place for children to learn and play and for the dedicated and supportive team to work in.”

As part of the design process in bringing settings up to scratch, a dedicated learning estate project team has undertaken extensive benchmarking, looking at the latest examples of design and supporting research from across the world. 

Director of Education and Children’s Services Laurence Findlay explained: “We are really pleased to be welcoming more than 40,000 children and young people back to our schools and early years settings today. We hope you enjoy a great start to the new term!

“You may have heard previously about our Aberdeenshire Primary School Building Brief, which has set a standard for all new primary school building projects across the local area and is cited as an example of best practice across Scotland. This work builds on that, with specific emphasis on ensuring our early years settings provide the best possible, fully accessible environment. It’s brilliant to see children now enjoying these facilities.”

Schools and early years settings across Scotland are working to address the latest guidance provided at a national level to ensure appropriate mitigations continue to be in place against Covid-19. Measures including an increased focus on handwashing and hand sanitising are likely to be in place for some time.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee said: “Colleagues across our early years settings have been raring to go with the 1140 expansion of early learning and childcare, with a number of settings piloting holiday opening hours during the school break. It is fantastic to see 1140 in action now, in full, right across Aberdeenshire.

“The facilities here at Fishermoss are second-to-none and testament to our world class estates team and their close working with staff in settings, families, contractors and of course factoring in feedback from children themselves. We’re really pleased with all of the work done through this extensive programme which will continue to benefit children across Aberdeenshire for generations to come.”

Brand new building projects undertaken as part of the wider programme also include Gordon Primary School Nursery, New Machar School Nursery and Dales Park School Nursery. A whole host of refurbishments have also taken place, with transformational upgrades at Strichen, New Deer, Clerkhill, Portsoy, Portlethen, Banchory, Ellon and Kellands school nurseries among others. 

Committee Vice Chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “The new and upgraded provision feels more spacious, bright and inviting, and this has a direct impact on the safe and stimulating play and learning environments staff are able to provide. It’s great to see children enjoying these fantastic new settings as we look ahead to another busy term.”

More information about early learning and childcare in Aberdeenshire is available on the Council’s website: Early learning and childcare places - Aberdeenshire Council