Deferred entry to school means that children start primary school one year later than the typical start date.

All parents and carers have the legal right to defer their child’s entry to primary school if they are not yet 5 years old at the beginning of the start of term in August.

In the current system, the youngest children (those with a January or February birthdate) are automatically entitled to an additional year of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) at their nursery, childminder or playgroup, when they defer entry to Primary 1.

Children with a birthday on or after the first day of term in August to the end of December can still defer their school start, but have to apply to the local authority to request a funded year of early learning and childcare for that year via a Deferred Entry Panel.

 

From August 2023, a change in the legislation means that all children who are eligible to defer will automatically be able to access an additional year of funded ELC.

A small number of local authorities will be piloting these changes in advance, to help to plan for the full roll out in August 2023. Stirling Council is one of these pilot authorities.

List of local authorities participating in the pilot.

From August 2022, as part of the pilot roll out of increased eligibility to a funded deferred year, all children whose 5th birthday falls on or after the first day of the school term in August, up until the last day in February are automatically eligible for an additional year of funded early learning and childcare.

List of local authorities participating in the pilot.

Generally, children in Scotland start school when they are aged between 41/2 and 51/2.  Their eligibility to start school depends on when their 5th birthday falls:

  • If your child’s 5th birthday is on or between 1 March and the day before the first day of school in August, your child will usually start school in the August of the year they turn 5.
  • If your child’s 5th birthday falls between the first day of school in August up until the last day in February, your child will usually start school in the August before they turn 5, however, you have the option to defer your child’s entry to school.

You will need to submit your deferral application to the local authority in which you live. Please let your Stirling ELC provider know you have applied to defer your child’s entry to school and if your application to your own authority has been successful.  Some local authorities may not be able to fund an additional year of early learning and childcare if you don’t meet their current criteria.

All deferred entry forms should be submitted by 31 January in the year your child would start school.

Please submit your deferred entry form to your current ELC provider if your child currently attends a Stirling nursery, childminder or playgroup. This will let your provider know to ring-fence a continued place in ELC when they are allocating places for the next academic year.

If you are new to Stirling, please submit your deferred entry form to ey@stirling.gov.uk.

You should still enrol your child at your catchment primary school. This usually happens in January of each year. This also safeguards your child’s place in Primary 1 should you change your mind.

Choosing to defer when your child starts primary school is a big decision.

Before you make your mind up, it’s worth finding out a bit more about the primary school your child will be attending. If you’ve not visited a school recently, then you might be surprised at how much has changed since you were in Primary 1. Much of the learning in the early stages of primary school is based in play. This helps create a smooth transition for children moving from ELC into Primary 1.

Speak to the headteacher or depute headteacher about any specific concerns you might have, and if you think your child might benefit from a bit of extra support to settle in, then find out what the school can do.  

Your ELC provider will also be able to give support and advice to help you reach your decision.

If you are thinking about deferring your child’s Primary 1 entry, here are some things you might want to consider:

  • If you are worried about ‘school readiness’, then please remember, it’s not the job of the child to be ‘school ready’, it’s the job of the school to be ‘child ready’.
  • What support would the school be able to offer your child if you choose not to defer?
  • What feedback has the ELC setting given you? You can ask for a discussion to get advice from the nursery, playgroup or childminder
  • If you choose to defer your child, what support and challenge will they receive from the ELC setting?
  • What deferral will mean when your child is older, for example when they are 12, or 16, and they might be one of the youngest or one of the oldest in their class. 
  • What this will mean for gaining qualifications - if a child is deferred then that might mean they would be able to leave school at 16 without achieving any qualifications.
  • What this will mean for young people who choose to go on to further education - young people who did not defer entry to school will be the youngest in their year group and may not be able to participate in some of the social aspects of college or university life.

 

Schools and teachers focus on the needs of the child, not their age, whether they are in ELC or at school. Children are supported to progress through the Curriculum for Excellence at an appropriate rate. Children aged 3-5 in ELC settings and children in Primary one classrooms, usually work within the Early Level of the Curriculum for Excellence.

There has been a change in culture in schools over recent years, with a real focus on play and outdoor learning in many schools.

Any deferral should be based on the individual needs of your child. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to deferral.  Children with additional support needs don’t normally automatically defer. Instead, the school will consider what support to put in place for your child. 

If starting school at this point isn’t in your child’s best interests because of their individual needs, then deferring entry to primary school can be considered. It’s worth chatting to your ELC provider and school about any concerns you have for your child.

Further information on deferred entry can be found here:

Further information about deferred entry can also be found on Parent Club Scotland, a Scottish Government website, which provides information for parents and carers, as their child moves through the various stages of nursery, primary school and secondary school.

For any other enquiries, please contact ey@stirling.gov.uk.

Last updated: Monday, November 29, 2021 4:14 PM