A NEW nursery class is expected to be created at an Alexandria primary school to help meet demand in the area for early learning and childcare facilities.

The class being created at Christie Park Primary will be located in the main school building and will accommodate a proportion of children whose parents have deferred their entry into primary school.

Additional deferrals have been received each year since the Covid-19 pandemic, moving from 30 in the 2019/20 term to 100 for the 2022/23 term.

The council’s recent expansion of early learning and childcare, coupled with the new classroom in Christie Park, will ensure all communities in West Dunbartonshire have capacity to provide deferred placements.

Councillor Clare Steel, convener of educational services, said: “It is important that children are given the chance to develop and begin their primary education at the right time and when their parent or carers believe they are ready.

"We have invested a lot in expanding our ELCC offer, and the facilities we have across West Dunbartonshire are modern, spacious and purpose built for learning through play.

"I am pleased that the addition of this new classroom in Alexandria means that we can fully support all requests for deferred entry in all areas of West Dunbartonshire, and ensure our children are continuing their learning, be that in school or nursery, in a nurturing and safe environment.”

Members of West Dunbartonshire Council's educational services committee were also told that increased deferrals, and children beginning primary one at a later stage, would mean some adaptations may need to be made to early years curriculum to meet the needs of a wider age range.

This includes the further roll out of the one-ery model of curriculum delivery, based around play pedagogy and nurturing approaches, which was piloted in campus schools and early learning centres during 2021/22.

Changes to legislation also mean any child whose entry is deferred is entitled to benefit automatically from an additional year of 1,140 funded hours of early learning and childcare from 2023.

Councillor Michelle McGinty, vice convener of educational services, added: “The pandemic changed so much and young people especially missed out on so many experiences, so I understand why some families feel deferral is the best option for their child.

"Although the early years curriculum for both nursery classes and primary one classes is based around the play, it is pleasing to hear that officers have considered the impact on our young people and whether changes may be required for any pupils who are beginning their primary education when they are slightly older.”