Early Years

Expansion of Funded Early Years childcare

In October 2016 the Scottish Government published ‘A Blueprint for 2020 – The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) in Scotland’ that outlined the Government’s plans to increase funded hours of early learning and childcare from 600 hours to 1140 hours by 2020.  The expansion’s vision is to deliver high quality, flexible ELC which is affordable and accessible for all.

City of Edinburgh Council has been allocated capital funding from the Scottish Government to support the expansion of our nurseries to enable us to provide the increased funded hours.

Making high quality nurseries provides children with the skills and confidence to carry into school education and leads to increased educational attainment. To make these accessible, flexible and affordable we are providing ELC in convenient geographical locations.

How our Early Years environment has changed

City of Edinburgh Council’s Early Years Interior Designs were recognised as a finalist in the 2018 Society of British and International Design Awards.

Our new nurseries and have been influenced by the ethos of the environment as the third teacher and learning through play.

We want our early years learning environments to be:

  • Nurturing environments which are homely, inviting and calming
  • Flexible environments which use natural resources to promote open ended play
  • Exciting environments which offer opportunities for exploration, free play and continuous access to the outdoors




In this room are natural wooden furnishings and the flooring is a wooden colour. In the centre of the room is a traditional style rocking horse, a circular rug and two different wicker nooks. At the front are open shelving units with wicker baskets that show the contents easily
Prestonfield Primary Nursery




In the centre is a tall tipi style wicker nook, surrounded by a group of different sized wicker stools and a little bench carved from a log. Beside this is a blue sofa and at the rear of the room is a storage unit fulled with colourful blocks and three wicker owl shaped baskets.

Natural and Homely Designs

When you enter one of our new nurseries, you get a wonderful feeling of home, comfort and pleasure that is created by our use of beautiful natural wooden furnishing and decorations, plants and soft furnishings creating cosy corners.

The new nurseries have been informed by many documents and theories. One of the theories that shapes the appearance of the learning spaces is biophilic design. This refers to the innate relationship between humans and nature and our preference for a natural environment over an artificial one. In our nurseries we are using a palette of natural colours and materials to allow the people within the space to feel more connected with nature. We want to integrate some of the main principles of biophilic design into our plans to ensure we provide the very best learning environments.

  • Children using the outdoor space at Corstorphine Primary School Nursery
  • A comfy reading corner at Corstorphine Primary School Nursery
  • Numbers at Corstorphine Primary School Nursery

We also use these design elements when we are planning nurseries:

  • we want to make the learning spaces flexible
  • we use rugs to create cosy spaces
  • we add hatches into kitchens
  • we like sliding doors that allow children to move freely between the inside and outside play areas
  • we want lots of natural light from the windows
  • we like windows that are at the ground level so children can see outside
  • we like using wood, wicker, branches and fairy lights
  • we use low interactive screens so the children can use them at their height
  • we want to create lots of opportunities for natural and loose parts play
  • we like multi-purpose spaces for parents/carers and staff
A child kicks a ball on some astroturf

Free Movement Indoor to Outdoor

Our new nurseries ensure that the children are able to choose freely whether they want to play and learn inside or outside in the garden. The nurseries have floor to ceiling windows and doors which provide natural light and views outdoors that the nursery children can see easily.

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