Professor Iram Siraj to lead Scottish childcare review
One of the UK's leading experts in early years teaching is to review how it is carried out in Scotland.
Legislation is due to be passed at Holyrood later this week which will increase free childcare for three and four-year-olds.
The review by Professor Iram Siraj will ensure there are sufficient staff who have received the right training.
She will lead a team that will examine the skills and qualifications of those working in the sector.
The review will also look at how to ensure people are attracted to a career in childcare.
Children's Minister Aileen Campbell announced Prof Siraj's appointment the day before the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill is expected to be passed.
If approved, it will mean three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds, will receive at least 600 hours of funded care a year from August.
They currently receive 475 hours a year.
There are proposals for that to be extended to 1,140 hours of free childcare a year if the SNP was voted into power in an independent Scotland.
Prof Siraj, of the Institute of Education at the University of London, worked as an early years teacher in the 1980s and has spent more than 25 years working as an academic and researcher.
She said: "I am delighted to take on the role of chair for this review of the early years workforce. It is clear that the Scottish government has ambitious plans and a will to improve early learning and childcare in Scotland.
"There are a range of challenges and complex issues relating to the workforce which must be considered. I look forward to exploring these issues, together with a range of key stakeholders, in the course of the review."
Full membership of the review group will be announced later, but it will include key figures from local government, the voluntary sector and private sector, as well as trade unions and others.
Ms Campbell said she was "delighted that Professor Iram Siraj has agreed to lead an expert review to ensure the development of the workforce matches the scale of our ambition".
The children's minister added: "By boosting skills, ensuring high quality and recognising the value of those we entrust to give our kids the best start in life, we will attract the brightest and best to deliver the transformation in childcare.
"And by pursuing a shared vision we can secure the foundations for Scotland's future as the best place to grow up."
She said the provision of "high-quality learning and childcare" benefits children, their parents and their communities.
She added: "We can improve outcomes and attainment for our children and, by giving parents new opportunities to return to work, boost family incomes and support sustainable, economic growth."
There are currently about 35,000 people working in nursery schools and providing childcare across Scotland.