An Cotan Childcare Centre in Stornoway

Statement on the future of An Cotan Childcare Centre in Stornoway

UHI Outer Hebrides is working with community partners to explore alternative childcare options for local parents after making the difficult decision to begin consultation on the proposed closure of its An Cotan Childcare Centre, Stornoway. 

Hannah Ritchie-Muir, Principal and Chief Executive of UHI Outer Hebrides, said: “It is with deep regret we have made the difficult decision to begin consultation on the proposed closure of our An Cotan Childcare Centre, which is located in the grounds of our Stornoway campus. We wish to sincerely apologise for the difficulties this will cause local parents.  

Significant staffing challenges have forced us to reduce the service in recent months and despite repeated attempts to fill gaps, we can no longer guarantee a reliable service to local parents. We have also been subsidising our childcare centre for several years and it is simply no longer sustainable for us.  

Parents have been informed and a consultation has started with staff, who we are working with to support. If following consultation, the proposal goes ahead, An Cotan Childcare Centre will close from 5pm on Friday 28 April unless a viable alternative solution can be found.  

Childcare provision is a long-standing issue in our community, and we have been in discussions with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to explore alternative options for local parents. These discussions will continue.  

We will also approach our partners through the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership to see how we can work together to address the lack of childcare provision, particularly for 0–2-year-olds, in our community. We will do everything we can to support this and would welcome discussions with any childcare providers who may be interested in taking over or running a childcare service from our building. 

The viability of our college-run nursery has been a concern for several years and is not connected to our planned merger with UHI North Highland and UHI West Highland, which will create a more sustainable organisation with combined capacity and resource.” 

A dedicated email has been set up for consultation feedback  


For more information, please contact Kathryn Lamont Smith, Marketing Manager, at or 07817530062.   

Notes to editors: 

  1. UHI Outer Hebrides is the trading name of Lews Castle College.  
  2. UHI Outer Hebrides is a partner of UHI, a diverse tertiary partnership serving our communities and connected to their needs. We offer flexible and supported learning from access level to PhD, as well as research opportunities rooted in place and purpose. The diversity and flexibility of our partnership is our greatest strength, allowing us to deliver more.  
  3. UHI Outer Hebrides has five learning centres and campuses throughout the Outer Hebrides including Stornoway, North Uist, Benbecula, Barra and Cnoc Soilleir in South Uist. 
  4. UHI Outer Hebrides offers a range of senior phase, further education and higher education courses including Gaelic, Sustainable Development, Engineering, Art and Music.  
  5. UHI Outer Hebrides is led by Hannah Ritchie-Muir, Principal and Chief Executive.  
  6. Find out more about UHI Outer Hebrides by visiting 
  7. UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland will merge in August 2023 to from UHI North, West and Hebrides, pending Scottish Government approval. By coming together, we will create a more sustainable organisation with combined capacity and resource to grow the curriculum, research, and innovation; develop existing and new partnerships to support employers address skills gaps and retain, attract, and nurture talent; and become more responsive to the social, cultural, and economic opportunities in our regions. Lydia Rohmer has been appointed Principal Designate of UHI North, West and Hebrides.