Building a future for early years learning in Edinburgh

Young children across the Capital are benefitting from an innovative approach to transforming the early years learning and childcare landscape by the City of Edinburgh Council. 

Ferryhill Nursery
Ribbon cutting ceremony at new nursery for Ferryhill Primary School

Five state-of-the-art new buildings, all designed on sector-leading research to support children’s learning and development, have opened this year. 

The nurseries at Ferryhill, Corstorphine, Longstone and Davidson Mains Primary Schools plus a new Granton Early Years Centre, will be able to accommodate over 300 children. 

This is the third year of extra early learning and childcare provision in the Capital due to a rising birth rate, continuing rising rolls, a growing demand for nursery places and an increase in the number of hours required to be provided for early learning and childcare. 

In response to the Scottish Government's commitment to increasing funded nursery hours to 1140 by 2020, the Council is proposing an expansion plan to provide the additional hours, and this will be discussed by Councillors on the Education, Children and Families Committee next week. 

Early years staff and designers at the Council are radically changing early years learning in Scotland to ensure children get the best possible start in life, by providing holistic and natural environments with free flow access to the outdoors. 

Established research shows young children respond positively to natural colours and materials, this and bringing the outdoors inside, has greatly influenced the interior and external design of the nurseries. 

Edinburgh’s new early learning and childcare buildings are designed to be: 

  • nurturing environments which are homely, inviting and calming
  • flexible environments which use natural resources to promote active, open ended play and
  • exciting environments which offer opportunities for exploration, free play and continuous access to the outdoors.

Councillor Ian Perry, Convener for the Education, Children and Families Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council, officially opened the new nursery at Ferryhill Primary School yesterday (Wednesday 3 October).

He said: “The care and thought that has gone into the designs for our new nurseries is quite ground-breaking and so different from when I was a young child! The light, open design allows children the opportunity to express themselves and can only help stimulate them in such a fantastic learning environment.  

“Investing in early years and delivering quality, affordable childcare is a priority for the Council which is shown by our £9m investment in new buildings in the past two years.” 

Councillor Alison Dickie, Vice Convener for the Education, Children and Families Committee, and a former teacher at Ferryhill Primary School, said: “This is an exciting time in early years. Children, parents/carers and practitioners have been really positive about the new nurseries and thanks must to go to our dedicated staff for all their work in achieving such fantastic buildings.

“The designs are part of ensuring children are given the best start in life on their journey to becoming successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.” 

Stewart Crabb, Head Teacher of the new nursery at Ferryhill Primary School, said: “Our children, families and staff are all delighted with our new nursery building which has built the natural world into it with real timber both inside and outside. Solid wood furniture has been used as much as possible to create a nurturing yet exciting play environment which promotes creativity, imagination, flexibility and the opportunity for children to move. 

“We’re thrilled to be at the centre of trialling new flexible placements including the 1140 hours provision and to take forward the city’s provision for two-year-olds. This builds on our successful work last year with the innovative forest schools nursery nature kindergarten approach.” 

The Council started their programme of new nurseries in August 2015 which has resulted in eight new nurseries being built since then. 

The team involved in this exciting design development from the Council are short listed in three categories including ‘Pupil Experience’, ‘Inspiring Learning Space’ and ‘Client of the Year’ in the forthcoming Education Buildings Scotland awards in November 2017. 


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