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Number of teachers in Scotland’s nurseries halves in a decade, Lib Dems say

There are now 219 fewer teachers working in taxpayer-funded nurseries north of the border than in 2017, the Scottish Liberal Democrats said (PA)
There are now 219 fewer teachers working in taxpayer-funded nurseries north of the border than in 2017, the Scottish Liberal Democrats said (PA)

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has said that “expertise has been systematically stripped from nurseries” after the party found the number of teachers working in early learning and childcare positions has more than halved in the past decade.

There are now 219 fewer teachers working in taxpayer-funded nurseries north of the border than in 2017, the party said. In 2021 there were 704, with 1,641 working in nurseries 10 years before.

Scottish local government elections
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton (Lesley Martin/PA)

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the party’s leader, said the figures showed that “expertise has been systematically stripped from nurseries” and “those with the best qualifications have their posts abolished because they are too expensive to keep”.

“Children have missed out on so much. The poverty-related attainment gap has got even bigger,” the Edinburgh Western MSP said.

“But parents and teachers are struggling to see any difference in what’s on offer. That says it all about the SNP’s priorities.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said the figures included a drop of 82 in the capital, where its city council took the decision to remove all teachers from its nurseries in 2020.

“Nicola Sturgeon refused to even pick up the phone to her SNP councillors in Edinburgh when they voted to get rid of every single nursery teacher,” Mr Cole-Hamilton said.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government have nearly doubled the number of fully funded hours of early learning and childcare available to eligible two-year olds, and all three and four-year-olds – making high quality early learning and childcare available to families across Scotland.

“Scotland is the only part of the UK to offer the equivalent of 1,140 hours to all eligible children regardless of their parents’ working, saving families up to £4,900 each year for each child.

“With 97% of three and four-year-olds in Scotland accessing funded early learning and childcare, this increased public investment has resulted in increased local government spending on pre-school education.”