Scottish Liberal Democrats today said the SNP Government is "systematically stripping expertise from nurseries" after it was revealed that the number of teachers working in Early Learning and Childcare has fallen to 729, compared to 1,200 in 2014 - a drop of 39%.
The number of two year olds from the least well-off backgrounds using the entitlement to funded ELC also decreased.
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP commented:
"The SNP Government is systematically stripping expertise from nurseries. These figures show a 39% reduction in teachers working in early learning and childcare since 2014.
"In February, the First Minister refused to ask why her SNP councillors in Edinburgh were removing all 80 nursery teachers from the capital's nurseries.
"Cuts like these don't match up to Nicola Sturgeon's claim that education is her top priority. If you have the best qualifications, you become too expensive to keep. Quality doesn't seem to matter to the SNP. Instead, the ELC workforce expansion is being accompanied by de-skilling.
"Scotland has also fallen way behind in the uptake of free early learning and childcare for two-year-olds from the least well-off backgrounds. Experts have warned that this low uptake jeopardises the work to close the poverty-related attainment gap.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats worked hard to successfully persuade the SNP Government of the value of expanding early learning and childcare. Every part of the sector should be thriving but that's not happening. It needs a government with a needle-sharp focus on giving children the best start in life."