The expansion of funded nursery places was always a big task. As admirable as the intentions are, the SNP Government only has themselves to blame for the mess it finds itself in.

Every three and four-year-old and some two-year-olds will be entitled to 1,140 hours of funded early years education starting in August next year. Now with only a year to go, the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) have warned the Scottish Government they are facing a “workforce crisis” that will affect the sustainability of many voluntary, not-for-profit and private providers.

The NDNA report that 71 per cent of providers are facing recruitment challenges. This is because many are leaving partner providers to move to council-run nurseries, where wages and conditions are much better.

I want to see early learning and childcare that is affordable and flexible that delivers for parents and children all year round.

Scottish Labour welcomed the proposal to increase the so-called free hours to 1,140, which is the equivalent of the school day 9am-3pm during term time. However, there has been warning after warning about the delivery of the plans by the SNP.

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Last year an Audit Scotland report showed the policy was underfunded. Councils warned of the financial challenges they face. Private nurseries spoke about their levels of staff retention.

We need high standard early learning and childcare to tackle inequality and improve the lives of children. We cannot have a system that could let families and staff down. I fear that is what we are heading towards.

It was announced last month that universities in Scotland will guarantee a place for care experienced applicants who meet minimum entry requirements. This is a positive step for hundreds of children and young people in Dumbarton and the Vale, and many more across Scotland.

Last year only 4.5 per cent of care experienced school leavers went on to study in higher education, yet there are no figures on how many went to a university.

Care experienced children and young people are some of our most disadvantaged people and this very welcome move by Universities Scotland, the umbrella body which represents Universities, will help ensure equality of access to higher education.

Being elected as an MSP to represent my community and the people of West Scotland has been an honour. At the next election in May 2021, I will be retiring as an MSP.

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I have been proud to help thousands of people from all areas of West Scotland and I will continue to do so until 2021.