Nurseries of the future welcome new children

A new vision for transforming the landscape of early years learning and childcare is behind the creation of three brand new nurseries built by the City of Edinburgh Council.

Fox Covert Nursery officially opened

The nurseries – at Duddingston, Wardie and Fox Covert Primary Schools – have been designed based on sector-leading research to support children’s learning and development.

Early years staff and designers at the Council have laid the foundations for radically changing the way early years learning is provided in Scotland, providing a nurturing, holistic and natural environment. Research has shown young children respond positively to natural colours and materials and this has greatly influenced the interior and external design of the nurseries.

Innovations at all three nurseries include:

  • flexible learning spaces for children and staff
  • playzones for arts and crafts, home corner, messy play and outdoor play
  • large sliding doors providing views to nature, natural light and encouraging outdoor play
  • use of natural materials such real timber from Council parks
  • integrating technology such as interactive screens and specially designed ‘tablet logs’ for learning
  • using social enterprises to provide materials such as the Grassmarket Community Project (bespoke wooden furniture) and North Lanarkshire Industries (natural fabrics for upholstery items)
Council Education Convener Councillor Paul Godzik officially opened Fox Covert Nursery, today (Wednesday 23 September) - one of the largest in Scotland which can cater for 70 places each morning and afternoon with another 15 places for two-year-olds.

He said: “The contrast between traditional ‘old school’ nurseries and what the Council are starting to provide now is quite ground-breaking. The light, open design of these nurseries gives children the opportunity to express themselves and can only help stimulate them in such a fantastic learning environment.  

“We really want our children, staff, parents/carers and communities to enjoy their new buildings and what they have to offer. All these amazing design elements will help children on their journey to becoming successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

“Investing in early years and delivering quality, affordable childcare is a priority for the Council.  We are committed to providing the best start in life for every child and ensuring they are ready to succeed as they grow up.”

Janie Jones, centre manager for the new Fox Covert Nursery, said: “This is an amazing facility which is giving our children great opportunities for them to develop. They are having a fantastic time, working, exploring and investigating. 

“It’s a huge development for the local community and will support all our families to give their children the best start in life and make them the best in Scotland.”  

The Fox Covert opening comes just weeks after the Council was singled out for praise in an independent workforce review commissioned by the Scottish Government on early learning.

Professor Iram Siraj identified the approaches used by the Council as an example of best practice, saying: ‘The City of Edinburgh Council is one example of the best early learning focuses within Scotland. This is based on the professional development they provide for early years staff, much of which follows the Froebel model. 

‘This model is child-centred with a play-based pedagogy, and is underpinned by a knowledge and understanding of child development which supports assessment, evaluation and planning’.

And the Council already has plans to increase nursery provision in the capital with £4.2m of further investment for new early years facilities.  This includes the replacement of existing facilities at Ferryhill Primary School and Tynecastle Nursery, both with increased capacity, and also provision for permanent replacement nursery provision at Leith Primary School and improvements to Blackhall Nursery, a voluntary sector partner provider.

This follows previous investment of £5.7m which will deliver replacement and /or expanded early years facilities at Longstone Primary School, Granton Early Years Centre, Davidson’s Mains Primary School, Corstorphine Primary School and the new St John’s RC Primary School.

In total 10 new or replaced/extended nurseries have been identified. 

The new nurseries at Duddingston, Fox Covert and Wardie were all developed in partnership with Hub South East Scotland.   

Roddy Clark, Development Manager for Hub South East Scotland, the Council’s Development Partner, said: “We are proud to have delivered three more educational facilities in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council. We are encouraged by initial feedback from staff and pupils and hope they continue to enjoy their modern, inspiring new learning spaces.”

Allan Lyttle, Construction Manager for Morrison Construction said: “We are delighted to hand over these new nursery facilities to the City of Edinburgh Council on behalf of our partner Hub South East Scotland.  They truly are magical spaces, which will serve the children well and help them lay down the firm foundations of a first-class education.”

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