With Holyrood pledging to almost double the number of nursery hours children receive by 2020, Councillor Gregor Murray says Dundee faces challenges to make sure the city is ready.
The council’s convener of children and families services told the Tele: “When I started, children got 450 free hours a year, which is now 600 hours — and by 2020 it will be 1,140.
“So it’s nearly doubling again after we had already put it up by 150 hours. It’s a huge leap forward in terms of what parents can expect, how many nurseries and nursery teachers we need and how many early years practitioners we’ll have.
“We will need some more new nurseries and more staff.
“It’s for all three and four-year-olds and some two-year-olds.
“Not every parent is going to want their two-year-old child at nursery all day so we need to remain flexible and offer choice.
“It’s not a huge timescale, three years, so that is a huge amount of work for us.
“However it definitely is achievable.
“We did the expansion before from 450 to 600 hours.
“This is a bigger step but because we already made that one big leap, we have experience of it already.”
Councillor Murray said many of the school buildings in construction across the city would help meet the demand, as well as addressing schools which are at — and in some cases, over —capacity, in terms of student numbers.
The councillor said: “Ballumbie is an example, in Whitfield. It’s sitting with about 200 empty spaces at the moment — purposely built that size as when it was built there were no houses around it, but now there are.
“I would say perhaps opposition councillors can be a bit critical in terms of school capacities.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that some of the schools in Dundee were built too small, like Craigowl or Claypotts Castle.
“But it was the Labour Party that built them so I agree with the Labour councillors that those schools were too small.
“We’ve inherited the problem, and we’re doing all we can to fix it by changing catchment areas, for example. This administration plans ahead.”