'Super-nurseries' to build up support for deprived children
"SUPER-NURSERIES" complete with health clinics, community centres and pre-school classes are to be set up across the Capital.
The centres will help to identify and support vulnerable children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Education bosses believe that having a range of experts looking after young children under the same roof will make it easier to tackle any problems they face.
Counselling, family support and parenting groups will be integrated into the "one-stop shop" centres.
Schemes such as parent skill classes and social care facilities will also be provided.
The first centre is set to be opened in Granton within the next three years. Education chiefs are keen to move the scheme forward to offer disadvantaged families as much access to facilities as possible.
Edinburgh City Council officials have drawn up the proposals as part of a review into nursery education in the city and councillors will be asked to back the nursery proposals when they meet on Tuesday.
The review was approved by councillors last year, after the department linked up with social work to become the super-department Children and Families in a bid to ensure agencies offering support and care to children worked more closely together.
The plans for the "super- nurseries" are being based on early excellence centres which already operate in England.
These centres educate children as well as help families by providing parenting skills, family literacy and health advice.
City education leader Ewan Aitken said: "Our vision is to get more professionals working together, and by co-location, they can support the whole child and family. The creation of our new department is providing a great opportunity for us to shape the future of all our children's services, and our vision will help us to shape early years services."
While it has not been decided where the new nurseries will be built and what exactly they will contain, they will be centred in areas which lack facilities.
It is expected that they will operate alongside existing nurseries rather than replace them.
They hope that they will be similar to the centre which is being set up beside Royston Primary in Granton, which will house a nursery, a family centre and community facilities.
Carolyn Martin, early years officer for the city council, said: "Children who suffer from social and family problems are more likely to be badly behaved, or to perform badly at school in later life.
"Staff in these centres will talk to each other all of the time, which will make it more possible to intervene when a vulnerable child needs help."
SNP shadow education spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop said: "This idea should be welcomed. The SNP has been calling for such an approach for years."
Tory education spokesman Michael Dixon also gave the proposals a cautious welcome.
"It sounds pretty encouraging and if these proposals help families, then they are to be welcomed," he said.
"But what we do not want is for the council to interfere with families."
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